One thing I've learnt about marinating with curd is that thick curd is different from hung curd and that really makes a difference!! Very often we pull out some curd from a store-bought container without bothering to hang it (come on, it's thick enough) but don't realise that it still has a lot of water content (whey) which can rob some of the marinade from your chicken or paneer. So here's what I do, I dump some "thick" yogurt into a large strainer with really tiny holes, place it on top of a deep bottomed vessel and keep it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. You will be surprised at how much whey actually gets drained from what appears to be thick curds!
If you are using homemade curds, you may have to keep it for a much longer time- probably overnight, so keep the strainer in the fridge to avoid the curd getting sour.
Coming to the recipe, last year I had posted a Paneer Pudina Tikka recipe. This time I tried using pudina with chicken and made several changes, with some inputs from my friend Beena. I have added khus khus (poppy seeds) to this, but if it is not available, just replace with 1 tsp jeera or a couple of cloves. Adjust the chilli powder accordingly.
2 to 3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp khus khus (poppy seeds) or 1 tsp jeera
7 to 8 mild red chilles ( I used byadgi, kumte mirsang)
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup pudina leaves
3/4 cup corainder leaves
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
2 tsp garam masala powder
3 tbsp hung curd / very thick curd / greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
1/2 kg chicken pieces, washed and drained completely
1 tsp ghee / butter (optional)
In a small pan, heat 2 tsp oil and lightly roast corainder seeds and khus khus on low flame. Add red chilles and roast a bit. Transfer to a blender. Grind with ginger garlic paste, pudina leaves, coriander leaves, haldi powder, chilli powder, garam masala, hung curd, lemon juice, oil and some salt into a smooth paste. [Do not add water]. The paste should be spicy and slightly salty.
Marinate the chicken in it and place covered in the refrigerator for 4 to 14 hours (the more the better).
Transfer to a deep bottomed pan. [No need to put oil]. Cook covered for 5 minutes on medium low flame. Drizzle 1 or 2 tsp ghee or butter (optional) and mix gently. Cover. Turn the heat to medium. You will see the chicken releasing water. Cook covered for another 15 to 20 minutes till the chicken is completely cooked, the gravy is absorbed and the chicken appears semi-dry. Stir every two minutes to avoid sticking to the pan. Drizzle 1 tsp lemon juice and mix. If the dish is too spicy, drizzle more lemon juice.
Tastes best with a dash of lemon. A delicious starter no doubt!