At first, this Kenyan recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's From Curries to Kebabs seemed like a mad cross between Hainanese chicken rice and Leo Maya's tomatillo chicken. It's a stewed chicken dish with a whole bunch of ginger and garlic, along with way more cilantro than I've ever used for one recipe before. I figured it'd be a perfect spring dish, but I was wrong.
It actually comes out tasting like a rich beef stew—a delicious beef-like stew, but still. I was initially taken off guard. I'd thank the high heat, which everything cooks over for most of the dish. Only at the very end is the heat turned down low. And by then the damage has been done.
The cilantro cooks down to a dark green sauce, thickened at the end by the yogurt. There's a little bit of tomato too, but it disappears into the sauce. I was a wimp and went for two jalapeños instead of three, but next time I'd toss in that extra one. This dish needs that grip of spice. Other than that, it's full-flavored, rich, and another stunning braised chicken dish.
Cilantro Chicken (Dhania Chicken)
Adapted from From Curries to Kebabs by Madhur Jaffrey
- 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4 chicken legs, skinned and separated into drumsticks and thighs
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 3 cups cilantro, leaves and stems, chopped
- 3 hot green chilies, chopped
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup plain yogurt, lightly beaten
Process the ginger, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of water in a blender until smooth.
Toss the mixture with the chicken in a large non-metallic bowl. Make sure to rub it into the chicken well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.
Add the tomato, cilantro, chilies, tomato paste, the rest of the salt, and 2 tablespoons to the blender, and puree until smooth.
Pour the oil into a large non-stick pot over high heat. Add the chicken and the marinade to the pot. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is lightly browned. Pour in the tomato mixture. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fat separates from the sauce. Add the yogurt. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is tender.