I remember many afternoons when I was young that I would just sit by the window, read a book and relish a big piece of pickled mango. It might sound strange to you, having a pickle just like that, but, that is how much I like pickles.
Pickles come in many flavors- spicy, sweet and tangy, spicy and tangy, sweet, hot. Also, almost everything is pickled in India. I remember my trip to north India with my parents, where we went to a store in Haridwar which sold only pickles. And I got to sample so many of them. I remember potato pickle, radish pickle and the strangest of all- young bamboo pickle. I loved it all there.
The love for pickles made me explore tis recipe - Achari (= pickled) Murgh (= chicken)
Pickling spices that can be found in bottles in the grocery store are very different from pickling spices in India. Commonly used in indian pickles are fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Roasting a combination of these spices gives a wonderful and unique aroma and flavor. Cooking with this spice mix gives delicious exotic dishes.
You need (for 5-6 servings):
3 lbs chicken [I used thighs and drumsticks, but you can use breasts too]
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
6 fat cloves of garlic, grated
1½ inch of ginger, grated
3 green chilis, slit [Use according to your tolerance of heat]
6 green cardamoms
1 inch of cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
oil for cooking
Dry spice mixture:
1 tablespoon fennel seeds (mouri/saunf)
½ tablespoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
½ tablespoon corriander seeds
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of nigella seeds (onion seeds/kalonji/kalo jeere)
Marinate the chicken pieces with salt for 15 minutes. [I do this to ensure that the chicken is seasoned well.]
In the meantime dry roast and grind the dry spice mixture to a coarse/fine powder.
Heat a deep pan on medium heat with oil. When the oil is hot, add the bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and green chilis. When the oil is fragrant in few seconds, add the onion. When the onion is soft, add the ginger and the garlic. Mix well and fry for a few minutes. Add turmeric and salt.
When the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone, add the chicken pieces. Mix well.
Fry the chicken for about 5-10 minutes or until it is half done, and add the dry ground spice mixture. Mix well to incorporate the spices well with the onions and the chicken.
After another 5 minutes, add the tomatoes. Stir and cook till the tomato is soft and mixed with the gravy.
Add a cup of water. Put the lid on and simmer till the chicken is cooked completely.
Serve hot with rice or bread.