Mughlai Chicken

by Food Hound on January 18, 2014

in Main Dishes, Meat

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Mughlai Chicken is proof that only perfect and wonderful things can happen from making Gluhwein!

I watched Nigella make this ages ago, and the only reason it took me this long to make it is that I didn’t possess whole cardamom pods and cloves until I went on my Gluhwein-making bender last month.  As if a braised chicken dish with almonds, cinnamon, raisins, and CREAM weren’t reason enough to buy an entire cardamom plant, let alone a tiny jar??  But waiting for two uses for cardamom before purchasing the world’s third most expensive spice (behind saffron and vanilla) makes me seem so economical, yes?  Ooooooh, I like that one.  Maybe the Booze Hound won’t notice the cardamom is actually wedged in between my saffron and vanilla.

I love Indian food of all kinds, but Mughlai Chicken combines my two favorite characteristics: creamy and full of deep, earthy spices.  I’m not a curry lover by nature, so I gravitate to Indian dishes based on earthy spices, like cinnamon, garam masala, cardamom, etc.  Unless we are talking about curry chicken salad or anything with coconut milk, mmmmmm… those ring my bell, too.  I’m kind of a sure bet when it comes to Indian food, except that I’m that person telling the not-really-English speaking waiter to give me a 0/5 level of spiciness, knowing he’s probably going to spit in my food out of protest.

This recipe probably requires a trip to the spice store (or a few clicks to spice nirvana on but it is SO SO worth it, annnnnd if you make Gluhwein, too, the math totally works out.  You really don’t want to live any longer before you bring Mughlai Chicken into your life, so if that means you have to wash it down with some mulled wine, well…

Mughlai Chicken
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Serves: 6
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp dried chili flakes (more if you like it spicy)
  • ⅓ c almonds
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boned chicken thighs, each cut into quarters
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup flaked or slivered almonds, toasted, to garnish
  1. Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, and almonds into a food processor; blend to a paste. Add the water and then blend again; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces liberally on both sides with salt and pepper, then brown them in 2-3 batches so as not to overcrowd the pan (you want them to brown rather than boil). Sear the pieces just long enough to seal on both sides (about 2 minutes per side), then remove to a dish. Repeat with each batch.
  3. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cloves, and sauté them in the oil until they are fragrant, about a minute. Add the onions and cook them until softened and lightly browned, stirring frequently. Pour in the almond mixture and 1 tsp salt, and cook until spices from almond mixture are fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the yogurt, stock, cream, and golden raisins.
  4. Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and add the garam masala and sugar. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Fish out and discard the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, and cardamom pods.** (see note) Season to taste with salt, then serve in bowls and top with toasted almonds.
The cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and cloves are all easy to see because they are larger and/or darker. The cardamom pods are difficult to find because they are the same color as the sauce and they look like the golden raisins. My best advice is to ladle the chicken and sauce slowly into shallow bowls, trying to identify the cardamom pods as you go. Then warn your guests they if they bite into a really potent raisin, it's a cardamom pod. You can potentially avoid this issue by using ground cardamom instead of whole pods. I have NOT tried this, but have read that ¾ tsp is equivalent to 5 whole pods. If you try it, let me know! Also, a note on making this in advance: it reheats REALLY well, and gets better with age, so it is very make-ahead friendly- just wait to garnish with almonds till serving. As a time-saver, I made the garlic-almond-spice puree the day before and kept it covered in an airtight dish at room temperature for 24 hours.




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