“Leaves, stem and roots even the flowers it bears are to be used when you get cilantro this fresh”, Papa would tell the 10 year old me, picking a lush green bunch of fresh cilantro off of the vegetable vendor’s basket and placing it in front of my nose to smell its freshness. I couldn’t tell a thing about that smell at the time. All it smelled like was cilantro! Now when I pick bunches of cilantro from the produce section of my super market knowing it’ll taste more like grass and less like the cilantro Papa picked from his vegetable vendor, I know exactly what he meant.
We would leave the market after picking some fresh butchered chicken and based on what he found fresh from the market that day we would decide what we were getting for lunch or dinner. If it was a Sunday there would be chicken and this Sunday since he was so enamored by the vigor of this cilantro, there will be a ton of it in our Sunday chicken curry. The dirt from the vegetable vendor’s farm, hugging the roots and body of this cilantro would be carefully washed and cleaned off. Then ground to paste with a few other ingredients that bunch of green cilantro would turn into dhaniye ke chutney.
Dhaniye ki chutney is still such a weakness for Papa that his meals are not complete without it. Or rather his meal is complete with just some hot puffed roti or paratha and a nice helping of dhaniya (cilantro) chutney. He can be such a high maintenance and not, at the same time! This dhaniye wala chicken is his recipe. Its quick, absolutely delightful and if you are a lover of cilantro as my Papa, this is the right chicken curry for you. Mummy also made a similar cilantro curry with potatoes but will save that for another day. Today lets talk about Cilantro Chicken.
1 lbs bonelss chicken (I used thighs)
1 portion Cilantro Chutney (recipe here)
3 tablespoon mustard oil (substitute with vegetable oil if you like)
1 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
1 medium tomato (approx. 3/4 cup) diced
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup cilantro for garnish (optional)
Clean chicken well. Cut into smaller pieces about 1 1/2″ size. Add cilantro chutney. Mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Add onion. Sautee over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add approx 1/2 teaspoon of salt for the onion to sweat and soften quickly. Continue cooking until the onion is golden brown. Add tomato. Let it cook for another 3-5 minutes on medium heat until it softens.
Add marinated chicken and rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Cover, cook on medium low heat for 10 -15 minutes until the chicken is close to being done. Uncover. Finish cooking on medium heat, scraping the sides and bottom and stirring occasionally. If the sauce is too thick for your liking add a little water and finish off cooking.