I made this for the first time a few years ago. Me and my husband used to go to two different grad schools and hence live in two different cities. I was down with flu and had lost complete taste. Yet, after a long day in school, I had to make dinner. I wanted something spicy, tangy, tasty, absolutely chatpata (English translation-hot and sour? may be! ) and fulfilling. My husband suggested me over the phone to make some hot and spicy chicken and this is what I had for dinner. It turned out so good that I often make it nowadays and I call it "chicken-achaar".
I wanted it to be done fast, so I made small chicken pieces and cooked on high heat. Also, I add NO WATER to this preparation which makes it dry. It requires very few ingredients and anyone can make it. Just throw in a few things and cook.
I loved the spiciness from the red chili powder and the tanginess from the tomato paste making me call it "achaar"
Have it any way you like!
Make it dry and snack on it.
OR Enjoy with white rice or fried rice
OR with a hot roti/paratha
OR roll it up in a paratha with lettuce and avocado and make it your to-go lunch for the next day.
The possibilities are endless.
1.5 lb boneless chicken breasts / tenderloins
1 large red onion finely chopped
pinch of turmeric (optional)
2 tbsp fresh ginger paste
1.5 tbsp chopped/grated garlic
1 tsp red chili powder (Use as hot you want it to be)
4 tbsp tomato paste (Cans of tomato paste has really long shelf lives-almost 2 years. So, I always keep a few in my pantry. Do not substitute this with tomato sauce. It just doesn't come out right!!)
oil for cooking
Cut the chicken breasts/tenderloins into small pieces (~ half an inch thick or less). Small sizes of the chicken pieces will cook fast.
Finely chop a large red onion. You can also use a food chopper, if you have one. But try not to use a paste.
Heat a large pan on high heat with vegetable/canola oil. The purpose of large pan is that when you add your chicken, it should be in a single layer.
To the heated oil, add the chopped onions. Season it with salt and add a pinch of turmeric. You may omit the turmeric. Fry the onions till they soften and turn brownish.
Since your pan is on high heat, it will not take long.
Now add the chicken, ginger, garlic and chili powder, salt and stir. the chicken pieces will be in a single layer if you are using a large enough pan and will be fried well. They will get brown slowly. Keep stirring. If you use a small pan and crowd the chicken, it may not get fried well and release a lot of water!
When your chicken is brown and the ginger and garlic are nicely cooked, add the tomato paste. DO NOT thin it out with water. Add it directly from the can.
Mix the tomato with the chicken. Lower the heat to medium-high and keep cooking. If you find it too difficult to cook this so dry, then add water 1 tbsp at a time. I do not add any water to this preparation.
The tomato paste will get cooked and lose its raw smell and taste. You will see reddish oil separate out in your pan and the chicken pieces will be coated with red goodness.
Garnish with cilantro and enjoy it hot in whatever way you want!!