Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hyderbadi black pepper chicken

Spices are incredible things. Seeds, fruits, roots, even tree bark. They generally look, at best, unimpressive and at worst just plain fucking nasty. Take the star anise. It looks like a brown shuriken but adds the subtle aniseed flavour to Chinese cuisine. Cloves look like rusty nails but they also give the heady, numbing aroma to mulled wine. Worst of all is root ginger which looks like Boris Johnson but is an integral flavour as part of Indian and Chinese food. and of course in sweet recipes like ginger biscuits and cakes. Without spices food would be just so dull.
Spices and the things they resemble
(from top: a star anise and a shuriken; a clove and a rusy nail; root ginger and BoJo)

I could go off on a tangent and twat on about how some spices are important in traditional Chinese, Ayuvedic and other historic mystical system of pseudo-medicine and they can cure all sorts of shit but if you're a regular follower of this blog you'll know I don't subscribe to any of that new age bollocks. True, herbs and spices, like any natural products from animals or plants, contain all manner of substances which may have beneficial effects and there is a lot of good research underway to look into these possibilities. Sometimes the effects aren't necessarily beneficial. For example, I could mention how capsaicin, the component that makes chilli hot, is actually neurotoxic, how you can actually get high on nutmeg if you eat enough of it and if you eat too many poppy seeds you can test positive for heroin at roadside drugs tests. Indeed the "poppy seed defence" is a well known in legal circles when people have claimed that their positive drug test was due to eating a poppy seed bagel rather than being off their tits on smack.

Anyway, onto the recipe in hand. If you've read a few of these entries you'll know I really love my spices. Most of these dishes have a good measure of spice, especially chilli.This doesn't have so much as a whisper of chilli in it. It isn't actually a curry. Yes, it's Indian. Yes, it's got some spice content. Yes, it's actually hot in a spicy way, but it's not really a curry. No coriander, no cumin, no aromatic spices, no chilli. I ranted about what made a curry in one of my previous entries but this doesn't fall into that category because it's only got tumeric, ginger, garlic and black pepper. Lots and lots of black pepper.

I have to say that this dish is probably one of the tastiest things I have ever cooked. The combination of black pepper, vinegar, ginger, garlic and onion is actually quite magical.

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp salt
4 tsp crushed back peppercorns
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground tumeric
3 tbsp vegetable oil
500g chicken fillet, diced
1 onion, puréed
1 onion, sliced

Mix the garlic-ginger paste with 1 tsp of the black pepper, all of the tumeric and vinegar and 2 tsp of the oil.

Add the chicken and stir, ensuring it's well coated, before putting in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours.

Add the remaining oil to a pan, and the rest of the black pepper then fry for a few seconds before adding the sliced onion. Sauté this until soft then add the puréed onion and fry until it starts to gain some colour.

Add the marinated chicken along with any liquid from the marinade and gently cook the chicken through. How long this takes obviously depends in what form the chicken is. For this entry I used diced chicken breast which took 15-20 minutes, though other times I've used chicken on the bone which is in bigger pieces and so takes longer, but I'll come onto that in the notes.

Makes enough for two adults served with rice or an Indian bread, plus maybe a vegetable curry to make a more complete meal

Garlic-ginger paste is exactly as it's described: mushed up garlic cloves and fresh ginger. I pounded it into a paste in a pestle and mortar, but you could use a small hand blender. If you don't have either you could get away with crushing the garlic and grating the ginger then mashing it up further with the back of a spoon. Two teaspoons is about 2-3 cloves of garlic and a small thumb-sized piece of root ginger. The actual amount you need isn't actually that critical, as long as there's enough to coat the chicken as part of the marinade.

The original recipe for this was from celeb chef Atul Korcher and uses a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces. That's shit-loads more chicken than I needed since I made this for two people. Also, the original cooking method is a bit of a pain in the arse with on-the-bone chicken plus originally the recipe used 100ml oil which is way too much though makes cooking larger chicken pieces easier but makes the dish greasier than a Tory MP who fell in an oil slick while lubing himself up to participate in an orgy.

Using diced chicken may lose out on flavour of bone-in chicken, but it's so much easier to make as the chicken really needs to be rubbed with the marinade if it's in big, bony lumps. This makes the preparation more messy than Mr Messy visiting a scat party (possibly attended by a ready-lubed up Tory MP) and has the effect of giving your fingers the look of someone who smokes 40 a day plus if you have a cut on your finger it hurts like hell, thanks to the vinegar.

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