Ajoy Joshi’s Pepper and Garlic Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

Another cracking Ajoy Joshi recipe, where according to Ajoy, this recipe began life at the Nagarjuna Restaurant in Bangalore where it is renowned for this Tamil Nadu dish.

The steaming of the chicken is clever, finishing it in ghee (Ajoy asks for oil and unsalted butter) until golden.

We served this on steamed rice with mint sauce, lots of chutney and coriander… and it was excellent. It reminded us of eating Nilgiri’s (Ajoy’s wonderful lower North Shore restaurant) and on that basis, it has to be typed.

Ingredients

1 cinnamon stick, about 7.5cm long
2 tsp green cardamom pods
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/3 c chopped fresh coriander
36 fresh curry leaves
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 fresh mild long green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and halved crosswise
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 unsalted butter (N.B. We substituted oil/butter with ghee)
Mango pickle/chutney to serve
Steamed rice to serve
Coriander to serve
Mint sauce to serve

Method

  1. In a spice grinder, combine cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and grind to a fine powder. Transfer ground spices to a small food processor and add coriander, curry leaves, juice of 1 lemon, chilli, garlic, ginger, tamarind, turmeric, and salt. Process until a paste forms.
  2. Place chicken pieces in a non-reactive bowl. Add remaining juice of 1/2 lemon and turn to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add paste and turn chicken to coat well. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.
  3. Line a large bamboo steamer with baking paper. Arrange chicken on a single layer on paper, cooking in 2 batches if necessary. Place basket over a wok or other pan of simmering water, Cover and steam until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 12 – 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat oil and butter (or ghee) over a medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 1 – 2 minutes per side. Serve with rice, fresh coriander, mint sauce and chutney.

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