October 25, 2006
Chicken Varattiyathu/Chicken Stir Fry
This is a yummy chicken recipe, spicy, hot and yet crunchy with all the pieces of cut dried coconut flavoring it. The recipe is originally Shynee’s Chicken Varuthathu which I had all liked for its intensity. Thanks Shynee!!!! It reminded me of the chicken dishes I had in the resort restaurants in the Backwaters and Wynad, Kerala.
Shallot, which is the main ingredient in this recipe, has a delicious peppery bite to it. Unlike onions, adding a lot of it to a dish doesn’t make it sweet. It still has a distinct flavor even after caramelizing. I made this recipe with just shallots for the family, but when I tried it as a party recipe, I realized the most time consuming part of the recipe is cleaning a whole lot of shallots. So, even though the taste comes form the shallots, I used fewer shallots and increased the quantity of onions. It works just as well to add the shallots in the end as then the flavor is not cooked away. Also I used the ready dry coconut thin cut rounds and chopped it up instead of whole dried coconut. Since I modified certain parts of the recipe, I have to write it down again.
Try it either way; it’s a winner for those who like chicken and spicy food. Tastes good as an appetizer, as a side dish with rice or with breads. The combination of spices succeeds in getting rid of the fatty flavor that sometimes overwhelms the chicken. The chicken I used instead of boneless breasts is Halal chicken, cut up into small pieces; which I feel has a better flavor and texture. Try to make it with quite small cuts of chicken or boneless breasts so that the masala adheres well.
You will need:
Chicken -1 ½ lb (chopped into small pieces)
Indian Shallots-2 cups peeled (chopped) The more the merrier!!
Red Onion-2 large-chopped fine
Dried Coconut (Copra)-1 half-cut into small pieces
Ginger-2 inch piece
Garlic-8 large cloves
Red Chili powder-2 tsp
Pepper powder-2 tsp
Coriander powder-2 tsp
Turmeric powder-1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 2 tsp
Fennel seed powder-1 tsp
Fenugreek Powder-1/4 tsp
Lemon Juice- 2-3 tbsp
Curry leaves-2 sprigs
Cilantro leaves- 1 handful chopped.
Canola /Olive Oil-as required
1. Wash the chicken and lightly toss it with lemon juice and rinse again. Drain well onto a slotted drainer. Marinate chicken pieces with a little turmeric powder, chili powder and salt and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
2. Slice the shallots and onions finely and dice the tomatoes. Keep the shallots separate. Grind the cleaned ginger, green chilies and garlic to a fine paste. Keep all the spice powders ready.
3. Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a large shallow pan; add the curry leaves and shallots. Fry the shallots till they start turning a little brown and drain onto paper towels. (Keep aside to be added in the end.)
4. In the remaining oil, sauté sliced onions for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat and immediately add the ground ginger garlic paste, and saute well. Add some more oil (about 2 tbsp) if the onions are sticking to the pan. Then add the chicken, coconut cuts, tomatoes and spice powders and sauté on high heat for a couple of minutes. Do not add any water. Then lower the heat, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes. This is just to cut down on frying time. Take care not to overcook it. The chicken will still have a bit of cooking left which is taken care of by the next step. Open and add salt and now keep stirring till all the water evaporates and the chicken browns evenly.
5. As it gets cooked and the extra liquid evaporates, the curry gives out the excess oil and the chicken and spices get further fried in that. Now add the previously fried shallots and mix well. At this point, it is important to keep stirring on high heat to let it fry all over. No need to add more oil, unless there is absolutely no oil let out by the chicken. The fried shallots also give out oil. This should anywhere between 10-15 minutes depending on the quantity and size of chicken pieces.
6. Check to see if the chicken is cooked. Add some more chopped curry and coriander leaves, sprinkle 1 tsp of lemon juice over the chicken and adjust seasoning.
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