Kombdi Sagoti – Chicken Xacuti – East Indian Chicken Curry

I don’t know if this recipe is Goan, or East Indian. I have eaten slight variations of this recipe in the interiors of Vasai where I grew up, and even in Alibag. The curry is surely spicy, but the spiciness is alleviated to some extent by the gargantuan amounts of coconut, that goes into making this curry what it is. A perfect blend of ingredients. You will be left wanting the gravy more than the chicken itself!

Ingredients

  • 400 g chicken
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small onion and 2 medium onions 
  • 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
  • 8 tbsp oil
  • 6 red chillies
  • 20 cloves
  • 25 – 30 peppercorns
  • 1/4th mace
  • 1/4th nutmeg
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 and 1/4th cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I made mine from Maggi Magic Cubes)
  • salt to taste

Wash the chicken pieces and dry them with kitchen towels. Apply ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt onto them and rub it into the pieces gently for a minute.  Set aside for marination. (I kept mine in the refrigerator for over 8 hours. Believe me the difference is dramatic!)

Slice the smaller onion and finely chop the larger onions. Finely chop the tomatoes. Keep them aside.

In a small plate gather all the dry spices. Keep them separated from each other though. Keep all ingredients handy.

Heat a heavy bottomed griddle and pour 3 tbsp oil in it. Place the griddle in a slightly lopsided manner. Not slanting, but the burner of the stove should be heating only one part  of the griddle. This is so that while one spice is roasting, the previous one should not burn, but rather remain just warm.

First place the red chillies on that area of the stove which is directly on the burner. Once they have begun to change their color, use a spoon to slide them to the area which is not directly on top of the burner. Next do the same to peppercorns. Slide them aside. Put the cloves. Slide them aside. (Tip: While the peppercorns and cloves are roasting, invert a large spoon on top of the griddle just over the cloves or the peppercorns. This way if there is a splash of hot oil when the clove bursts, it won’t scald you. A trick my mom taught me.)

Do the same for the star anise, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and cardamom, and coriander seeds. Finally add the cumin seeds and poppy seeds. Once the cumin begins to change color, add the sliced small onion and mix all the spices together on the griddle with the onion. Saute well till the onion changes to a golden brown color. Now add the coconut and saute again till the coconut takes on a golden brown color too. Turn off the heat and let the spice mixture cool.

Once it cools, grind it to a smooth paste with 1 cup of water. Keep the paste aside.

 Heat the remaining oil in a heavy bottomed wok or vessel. (Tip: I use a pressure cooker for cooking chicken. Put the lid with the whistle on once all the ingredients have been assembled, and cook the chicken on the lowest heat possible for 20 to 25 minutes. The meat becomes much more tender this way.)

Once the oil has heated, add the chopped onions and saute them for about 3 minutes till they change color. Now add the tomatoes, and cook well for about three more minutes till they have turned completely soft. Now add the marinated chicken pieces, and the marinade into the  cooker. Cook for about two minutes till the chicken is tender.

Add the stock and cook again for five minutes. Now add the ground coconut and spices paste to the chicken. Taste the gravy and adjust the salt. Now cover the cooker and cook on a low heat for twenty to twenty-five minutes. By this time folks at home will have started asking what is cooking!

Serve really hot with bread, or steamed rice!

Happy Cooking!

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