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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Pakistani Chicken Curry With a Side of Non-other Than Couscous!!!

This post is Sponsored by Tavola, the Middle East's exclusive retailers of high quality European fine Kitchen & Tableware brands.
As part of Dima's Kitchen Ramadan SpecialTavola are sponsoring 3 Giveaways for Dima's Kitchen Readers. For details on the giveaways and how to enter the draw, please follow this link.
This post is written to explain to you how to make best use of the Staub Pot (giveaway sponsored by Tavola) & to give you a delicious recipe that showcases the perfect stewing property of this cast iron grill pan.

Pakistani Chicken Curry with a side of Couscous

" husband pointed out I couldn't really expect culinary epiphanies in the ready-meal aisle at the local grocers."  - Sisi's comment on fattet fool akhdar post

I could not agree more with the statement above! Of course our food judgement is based on the foods we eat. However, at times, the food we eat can be a very poor version of what it should taste like! Unfortunately, not all cooks prepare good tasting food. Not all recipes are good recipes, and not all ingredients are good ingredients! Combine all poor elements in any dish and you have a disaster on your hand. For the one trying that food for the first time, that's it: "I don't like..." and at times "I hate..." is the verdict. Then try and convince that person that this food is actually good... a lost battle, from start to finish! We must keep an open mind when it comes to food, and try as many versions of any one dish before we give it our final judgement. You will be surprised how the same food can taste so terribly wrong, or so perfectly right, depending how it was prepared.

Pakistani Chicken Curry
For today's recipe, I am going for one ultra delicious curry from Pakistan. The funniest thing is; I had always thought Indian and Pakistani food were one and the same! Just because the namings are the same, the overall flavour range - for my inexperienced palate - were almost identical. The look of the food, the colours, the aromas... all were one to me! With time, especially once my palate got a little used to the heat - which was the only thing I could experience at first! - I realised that the two cuisines are very different, each being unique and exquisite in different ways. I love both cuisines with passion, and at times find that no other food can put the crave to rest! 
My flavour detectives always welcome the more delicate Indian Curries, Biryanis, and Grills. There is a soothing side to the creaminess, the aroma and the melt in your mouth quality. However the bolder, spicier, perfumed quality of Pakistani food fascinates me! The food is pungent, present and full of character. This is the type of food that demands your attention. One that has you wonder: what is in it? One that makes you think, how did these cooks come up with these combinations? Then after all, leaves you thinking you had one heck of a meal.... smiles....

This talk is reminding me of a chat I had with Saba Wahid, who was telling me that most people mistake Pakistani cuisine with Indian cuisine. Which has resulted in Pakistani cuisine to become somewhat underrated. You hear many people describe an exquisite Indian meal, which by description turns out to be Pakistani. She was saying that it is disappointing that due to this mix up Pakistani cuisine is not getting the attention it should be getting. I could not agree more with her, because Pakistani food is one that should be acknowledged. It is brilliant!

This chicken curry is delightful. I love it! These curries are usually served alongside biryanis, or various types of breads, never a Couscous! But I like to tweak things and add my own touch to my recipes. I know Couscous is never a Pakistani ingredient, so please don't shoot me! But fusions are never a bad idea. Provided the fusion does not clash in taste, or even texture, otherwise it becomes a confusion! I have come to decide on Couscous merely from a diet stand point. I am always watching my weight and therefore always looking for alternatives. Food has to remain interesting: varied and delicious. So to substitute the rice, which is higher GI, I went for Couscous once. Couscous does not have a flavour that can overpower or defect the experience with the curry. It is similar in texture to rice. Not the same but similar (not like using Penne for instance). It seemed to mesh very well, and allowed me to indulge in a healthier version than that alongside a heavy biryani. Then on days when I am not particular about the diet, I cook up a whole proper curry and biryani.

I am not exactly the expert on Pakistani food, but I do know some tricks ;) So this is my take on this Pakistani Chicken Curry, with my side of Couscous. Do try it, and see if you like the Couscous with it. If not, just go for a biryani then lol. But the curry is nonetheless decadent. Here is how it's made...

Pakistani Chicken Curry with a side of Couscous

Ramadan Recipe 14
Pakistani Chicken Curry with a side of Couscous
This is a light version of curry. Feel free to use ghee if you prefer.
Serve a classic Raita with this delicious curry, the favours are heavenly, and it helps take the edge of the heat. For best results use chicken on the bone, I have used cubed chicken breasts for a lighter version. The use of the cast iron Staub pot for cooking, allows the pieces to come out super tender.

In True Pakistani fashion,
a large spice and aromatics list
You Need
Serves 4
4 Chicken Breasts, cubed
3tbsp cooking oil
2 cups warm chicken broth
1/2 cup rosewater
2 cups yogurt
Garlic & Ginger paste (see below)
2-3 green or red chilies
2 dried prunes, pitted and chopped extra fine
1 coriander bunch, finely chopped
3 small red onions, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 generous pinch saffron
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp fenugreek powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1-2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp aniseed
1/2 tsp  tsp black pepper corns

Start by Marinating the chicken. In a medium bowl, mix together, the yogurt, salt, all the spices (except the saffron) and half the quantity of the chopped coriander. Mix all these ingredients well to combine. Add the Chicken cubes and mix to coat. cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to infuse.

In a small cup, soak the saffron in the rosewater. Set aside to infuse, until ready to use.

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices and set aside until ready to use. 

Ginger and garlic paste
Then make the ginger and garlic paste. Simply grate 1 inch peeled ginger root and place along with 5 garlic cloves and a sprinkling of salt in a mortar and pestle. Beat untill the mixture resembles a paste. Finely chop the chilies and add to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well then set aside allowing the flavours to infuse. 
Goodness that is so hard to resist
So here is a version for this recipe
that will not kill your diet!
In your Staub pot, heat the cooking oil. Stir fry the sliced onions until lightly browned. remove the onions from the oil and set aside over kitchen towels to remove excess oil.
In the same oil, add the ginger and garlic paste and stir until slightly change in colour, but do not brown. Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the remaining marinade. Stir fry until slightly browned. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth and stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the saffron and rosewater, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer gently until the chicken is done and tender. Transfer to serving bowl, and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.

Make the Couscous by simply placing it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Add a tsp of oil then mix well. Top with enough water to cover all the couscous, wrap tightly with cling film and set aside to absorb the water. Once the Couscous has absorbed all the water and become tender and fluffy, place in serving plate. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander to garnish.

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you will give this phenomenal curry a try. Remember that Indian and Pakistani cuisines are two different cuisines; each of which very unique and delicious. Pakistani food is amazingly delicious, so go for it whenever you get a chance, you will be happy you did. You might however have to explain to the waiter that you want it extra mild. Their extra mild is with a big kick to my palate! lol
Staub giveaway sponsored by Tavola

Don't forget to take photos when you carry out a recipe from this blog for a chance to win cool giveaways as part of Dima's Kitchen Ramadan Special. Check this link for a list of giveaways and instructions on how to enter the draw. Looking forward for all your comments as ever :)

Be a winner this Ramadan, cook and send through those photos
Ramadan Kareem