Doi Methi Murgi (Chicken with Yoghurt and Fenugreek)

We Bongs may crave for our fish, but you know what? We love our chicken equally. In fact, growing up I remember most of my peers would steer clear of fish (bones being the sole reason, I presume, for all those dainty darlings) and embrace chicken with all their heart and soul. The other day, on being asked the top 10 favourite food items, my friend and fellow blogger K (of Silence Sings) said chicken & chocolates, chicken & chocolates, chicken & chocolates, chicken & chocolates, chicken & chocolates. Yes, five times over. So you know how much we love chicken, right?
I am no exception to this as well. Chicken would always hold a special place in my heart, not because I absolutely love this versatile bird, but also because this was the first protein I ever cooked. And even after a decade and a half of cooking so many other things, whenever i have guests over, they end up asking for my trademark Chilli Honey Chicken. But we are gearing up for Pujo, and all that we planned on cooking and eating this whole month was Bong food.
So I conjured up this sublime dish, subtly flavoured by two of a Bangali's most favourite spices and condiments: Methi and Yoghurt. This dish has a freshness that perfectly complements the weather conditions here in Calcutta. Not too spicy, neither too rich, this Doi Methi Chicken gives you that welcome burst of flavours and also leaves you light and energetic. Perfect dish to rustle up if you have people over for lunch during Pujo, because remember you can't afford to go for a bhaat-ghum (customary afternoon siesta after having rice for lunch) after that...you have to go out pandal-hopping!
Serves:4

Ingredients:

Chicken, cut into pieces: 1 kg
Onion, roughly chopped: 2
Onion, sliced finely: 1
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1.5 tbsp
Green chilies: 3
Yoghurt: 1 cup
Corn flour: 1 tsp
Fresh/dried methi/fenugreek leaves: 1/2 cup
Kashmiri red chili powder: 1 tsp
Black cardamom: 2
Green cardamoms: 6
Peppercorns - about 6
Cinnamon: 1 stick
Bay leaf: 1
Cloves: 4
Mace: 1/2 tsp
Ghee/oil: 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp ghee
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Lime juice: 1 lime
Coriander leaves: for garnish
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste

Method:

1. Make a paste of 2 onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies. Mix half of the paste with half cup yoghurt. Marinade the chicken pieces with the mixture along with salt, red chili powder and lemon juice. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or overnight.

2. In a deep-bottomed pan/kadhai, heat oil/ghee. Add bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, mace and peppercorns. Allow them to splutter and release aroma.

3. Add the remaining half of the ginger-garlic-onion paste and sliced onions and saute on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add salt and the methi leaves and keep stirring for another 5-7 minutes till the onions become golden.

4. Put the marinated chicken in the pan, coat them with the cooked onion mixture, lower the heat, cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes till the chicken it cooked through.

5. Once the chicken starts releasing oil, add the yoghurt (beat it with cornflour beforehand so it doesn't form lumps) and mix well. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

6. Uncover and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you want a thickish gravy, crank the heat up. Check seasoning and add sugar if required.

7. Sprinkle some garam masala, add a dollop of ghee. Give a final stir, garnish with coriander and serve with luchi/paratha/pulao.

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