Moppalah Chicken

If you are the kind who judges a product by its packaging, then go ahead and read the post, you will change your view. If you are the kind who does not judge a product by its packaging, then go ahead and read the post, you will stick to your view. Seriously though, I  have never taken a worse picture of a such a flavorful and delightful dish !!!!!!

Moppalah Chicken

The Moppalahs happen to be Islamic residents of Kerela and this is a dish popular in the community. Raghavan Iyer, whose book – 660 curries – features this dish, has chosen a true keeper. The preparation is surprisingly simple, the ingredients not uncommon (although for anyone other than Indian, these might be truly unusual) and the flavor literally bursting. As for the taste, it is soon becoming one of my trusted chicken recipes.

I have adapted his recipe to yield a little extra gravy as well as enable the flavor to permeate the chicken pieces more thoroughly. The ingredients are the same, the measurements vary. The best thing is, this chicken dish is like a pair of dark blue jeans – dress up or dress down as per the occassion. Fancy enough for a party and yet simple enough for dinner-at-home. Take your pick and jump in 🙂

Ingredients: Serves 6-8
6 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp yellow split peas (chana dal)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
4 dried red chillies (reduce it to 2 if you can’t take the heat, it’s not too hot by the way)
2 cups unsweetened thin coconut milk (if you  have thick coconut milk then make it 1.5 cup)
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ginger paste ( or 3 cubes of ginger, 1.5″ each side )
7 garlic cloves, large
3lbs chicken ( you can use whole chicken or chicken breasts cut into large serving pieces)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp tamarind paste/concentrate
15-18 medium size curry leaves
3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
2. Add split peas, corainder seeds and chillies and roast, stirring constantly, till chillies have blackened and the erst are reddish brown (approximately 2 odd minutes).
3. Skim off the spice roast using a slotted spoon and transfer into a blender jar. Set the pan with the residual oil aside.
4. Add 1 cup coconut milk, salt, ginger/ginger paste and garlic to the blender and puree the whole thing to form a smooth, creamy, nutty smelling, yellowish red speckled paste.
5. Transfer the paste to a large bowl and put the chicken pieces in it (the marinade). Coat the chicken well and marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, depending on time in hand.
6. Add the remaining oil to the pan (with the residual oil) and heat on medium high. Add the onions and stir fry till light brown, 4-6 minutes.
7. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer to the onion mixture, saving the residual marinade.
8. Reduce heat to medium and cook the chicken till browned. At this point, flip sides and brown over the other side too.
9. Mix the rest of the coconut milk and the tamarind paste into the residual marinade and pour the entire thing over the chicken pieces. Stir to mix well. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, releasing all the flavorful bits.
10. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan and cook till the chicken is done (no pinkishness in any part of the meat left, i.e.). This should take around 15-20 minutes.
11. At this point you can remove the chicken pieces to the serving platter and go on to simmer the sauce on high heat to reduce it or leave the sauce on the chicken. Either way, add the cilantro and curry leaves to the sauce and mix well.
12. Pour on chicken pieces and serve with rice.

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