Experiment: Chicken Haldi
This experiment arose out of not much more than a desire to have chicken for supper one evening and no clear idea as to how to prepare it other than to do something vaguely Indian. I wasn’t especially looking for anything too spicy or complex and I decided to play around with the warmly sweet qualities of both Turmeric and Fenugreek leaf. After settling on the spice blend I will share with you below, I had a hard time thinking of a name for the dish and I finally hit upon Chicken Haldi, as ‘Haldi’ is the Hindi word for Turmeric and the exotic sound of the name just somehow appealed to me…
- 1 dozen Chicken legs
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice
- 1 ½ tbsp. Salt
- 2 tbsp. Turmeric
- 1 tsp. Cumin Seed
- 1 tsp. Sugar
- 2 tbsp. minced Garlic
- 1 tbsp. minced Ginger
- 2 tbsp. dried Fenugreek Leaf (Methi)
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
First, slash the flesh of the chicken legs in several places and then rub then well with the lemon juice and salt. Let them sit for 20 or 30 minutes and then pat them dry of any excess juice. Now, rub the turmeric liberally over each leg, working it under the skin and into the slashes in the meat and then set aside.
Next, crush the cumin seeds in a mortar until they are nicely broken up but not completely pulverized. Put them in a bowl and add the sugar, garlic and ginger. Mash with the back of a fork until the garlic and ginger form a smooth paste with the other ingredients and then add in the oil and fenugreek leaf. Stir and then rub this mixture over all the chicken leg, working it well into the slashes and under the skin as you did with the Turmeric.
Finally, put the legs on a wire rack on a baking sheet and pop into an oven pre-heated to 425 degrees. Depending on the size of the legs they will take about 45 minutes and you should turn them once or twice during the cooking time. I didn’t do it on this occasion, but you may want to give the kegs a few minutes under the broiler after they have cooked so that you can get some nice ‘grill’ crispiness and browning. Either way, let the legs rest for five minutes or so before serving.
I served the chicken with a side of spicy roasted potatoes and peppers, as well as a little Patak’s Chili Pickle as a condiment. The potato dish was also an experiment I was trying out the same night and I will feature it in an upcoming post very shortly.
The chicken, I am proud to report, turned out very nicely and my wife and I enjoyed it very much. The warmth and sweetness of both the Turmeric and Fenugreek Leaf worked well together and the overall effect was mellow but tasty. I kept getting the odd little ‘spark’ of cumin as I ate and I said that I rather wished I had added more. My wife, however thought it was just fine as is.
There are only two things, I think, that might make this a better dish: First, this is the sort of meal that really lends itself to the grill rather than the oven and that is how I would cook it in future. Also, I think that replacing the oil with yoghurt and marinating the legs overnight instead of just an hour would really improve the flavor no end. Still, that being said, I was really pleased with the overall effect and will use the same spice blend again.
Oh… on a final note, my wife and I had the leftovers cold for lunch the following day and they were every bit as good, if not better, than the night before. Readers may like to consider trying this recipe as a nice dish to have on a picnic…