Murgh Do-Piaza | Chicken Stewed with Onions from Hyderabad, India
Slow-sautéeing, is at the heart of cooking meat in Indian cuisine. The ingredients are a handful of what is used in almost all regions of Indian cuisine. But it is this singular technique that sets it apart - worlds apart.
If you've never really ever tasted Hyderabadi cuisine or a gravy from this region, then chances are you've never really tasted a gravy with such 'depth'.
It is impossible to imagine that the same ole' onions, ginger and garlic could be sauteed into something this remarkable. And all because the recipe is low on heat and big on time. This chicken gravy is full of depth and no secrets.
The sunflower seeds, cashew nuts and ghee add the final touches. But by then, if you're like me, you'll already be floored. By all means these lovely little touches are enhancements, not essential but rewarding nevertheless.
Take it, and you're greatly rewarded. Don't and you'll be left wondering what I'm raving about.
Because without the slow slow saute, this dish is just another curry. With, something far far more.
Hyderabadi Style, Murgh Do-Piaza
3-4 lb whole chicken
2 large onions (to yield 3 cups chopped)
2" fresh ginger root
1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp red chilly powder (more or less depending on tolerance)
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp Garam masala
1/2 tbs salt
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
1/4 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup oil for deep frying cashews and sunflower seeds.
1/3 cup ghee, clarified butter
Chicken: Remove the skin and joint chicken. Cut breast into 2 pieces, if very large.Good to know:You can have your butcher at your grocer store, joint and skin the chicken for you if you find this task overwhelming.
Onions: Peel, discard ends & skin and finely chop.
Garlic and Ginger: Wash, roughly chop and place in a mini-blender. Add 1/4 cup water and process to a smooth paste.
Mint leaves: Roughly chop and set aside in a bowl of water to prevent from discoloring. Discard any tough stems.
Cashews and sunflower seeds: In a veru small pan, add oil and heat. Add the cashews and deep fry for a few seconds till light golden brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside till ready to use. Repeat with the sunflower seeds.
Use a large heavy bottomed pot or kadhai. Add the ghee and heat for a few seconds. Add the onions and saute on medium heat for 25-30 minutes till a light golden brown.
Cook's Tip: The dish gets most of its flavor from the slow saute of the onions and this step cannot be rushed. Do turn the heat up high keep it at medium) and regularly stir the onions to prevent onions from burning or blackening at the edges. Also, do not substitute ghee for oil.
Once the onions are a light brown, add the ginger garlic paste and saute for about 5 minutes or so.
Add 1/4 cup water and salt, red chilly powder and ground turmeric. Saute for a minute or so.
Add the chicken and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the water and turn up the heat to bring the gravy to a simmer. Cover with a lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is completely tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with the garam masala, mint leaves, sunflower seeds and cashews. Bring to a simmer once again.
Serve with hot Naan or rotis or hot whole wheat pitas in a pinch.