Methi Masala Chicken
Today’s production is very Indian in character and features chicken roasted in a green spice blend, or masala, whose central ingredient is dried Fenugreek leaf (known in India as ‘Methi’). In my post on the fresh Fenugreek Leaf, I noted that, whereas the fresh article is useful as a vegetable, when dried, the flavor becomes very concentrated and, as a culinary herb, lends dishes a very warm, almost maple-like flavor that is quite unique…
- 2lbs. Chicken parts;
- 3 tbsp. Lemon Juice;
- 1 tsp. Salt;
- ½ cup Yoghurt;
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and chopped;
- ¼ cup Methi (dried Fenugreek Leaf);
- ¼ cup chopped Parsley;
- 1 tsp. Garlic paste;
- 1 tsp. Ginger paste
- 1 tbsp. Coriander Seed;
- 3 tsp. Cumin Seed;
- ¼ tsp. Celery Seed;
- ½ tsp. White Pepper;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar.
If you like, you can substitute Cilantro (Coriander Leaf) for the Parsley, which would definitely be more Asian in spirit. Unfortunately, neither my wife nor I can abide the taste so I am using Parsley, not only for flavor, but for the attractive green color.
First, trim the chicken pieces of excess fat and make slashes in several places to allow the masala to penetrate. Rub the pieces with lemon juice and salt, working the salt under the skin and into the slashes, and then set aside for the time being.
Now, process or grind the Jalapeno, Methi, Parsley, Garlic and Ginger to a coarse paste.
Separately, toast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan until the seeds give off a nice aroma (be careful they do not start to blacken). Grind together the coriander, celery seed and two teaspoons of the cumin and then mix in the remaining cumin seeds.
Mix together the green paste, the spices and the yoghurt along with the pepper and sugar. Set this aside for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Now, use your fingers to loosen the skin on the chicken pieces and then work some of the masala under the skin and deep into the slashes in the meat. Coat the remainder of the pieces well and set aside to marinate for at least 3 hours (or even overnight in the fridge). You should have a little masala mix leftover, so save this for ‘basting’ during the cooking process.
To cook, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and then pop the chicken in (preferably on a wire rack over a pan) for about 30 – 40 minutes, turning a few times. Near the end of the cooking time you can, if you like, baste the pieces with the remaining masala mix as I did just before taking the above picture. You can also give the chicken a minute or two under the broiler at the very end so as to give that ‘Tandoori’ look…. I didn’t bother with that.
I served the chicken with turmeric spiced rice and some of my wife’s celebrated dal topped with a simple sambol of raw onion and tomato. I have to admit, here, that we ate this meal after a long afternoon imbibing (so our critical faculties may have been a little blunted) but we both thought the chicken was very good. I may play around with the recipe and perhaps add a few more citrusy notes to counterbalance the warm sweetness of the fenugreek, but I think this is one to keep for the repertoire…