Most Indian chicken curries have more or less the same set of spices as their base – either freshly ground or already powdered. The taste alters with the proportion of these spices and other ingredients used. I try and find curries that don’t taste the same because what’s the point, right? But yes, most of them do look the same. Not much I can do here. This time I made chicken xacuti, the Goan curry. It’s been years since I last visited Goa and I don’t quite remember what xacuti tasted like any more. I found a Goan chef’s recipe online and thought I’d give it a go. I’m all for short cuts and taking the easy way but sometimes doing it exactly how it’s supposed to be done, even if it takes longer, is worth it.
With this curry though, as much as I wanted to stick to the recipe, I couldn’t. There seemed to be way too many chillies and other ingredients I thought. So, I tweaked it a little to suit my taste. I basically reduced the chillies and a couple of spices to tone it down so the curry still had the kick of all the spices, yet would taste fresh. The freshness came from coconut and coriander. And it was such a delight. I absolutely loved the flavours in this one. It did take me a while in just prepping for this curry, but it was time worth spending for.
Overnight marination time + 30 mins
30 mins approximately
Chicken on the bone – 600-700 gm (curry cut)
Turmeric – 1.5 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Garlic – 4-5 cloves chopped
Ginger 1 inch piece chopped
Coriander leaves – 2 cups roughly
Green chillies – 4
Coconut – 1 cup grated
Onion – 1 medium sliced
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Star anise – 1/2
Peppercorn – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Poppy seeds/khus khus – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 1 cup
Dried red chillies (Kashmiri) – 4 (I deseeded 2 of them)
Onion – 1 large sliced
Salt to taste
Oil to cook in
Marinate chicken in turmeric and ginger garlic paste overnight.
For the second marinade grind the coriander, chillies, ginger and garlic. Mix it in with the chicken the next day and keep aside till you get on with the rest of the prepping.
Heat a tsp of oil and saute the sliced onions till lightly browned (at this point add a couple of pinches of salt) and take it off the heat to cool down.
In the same pan toast the cinnamon, star anise, peppercorn, poppy seeds, coriander seeds and the red chillies.
Let them roast till fragrant and poppy seeds turn lightly brown in colour. Take off the heat.
Toast the coconut in the same pan till lightly brown, about 3-4 mins.
Blitz all these along with the coriander leaves to make a fairly fine paste. Add half a cup of water to get your blender going.
Now you have your chicken marinating in the coriander paste mix, the ground masala is ready and you can now get on with the cooking of the chicken.
In a pressure cooker, heat one tbsp of oil and saute onion slices till translucent.
Add the chicken and stir it with the onions for about 2 mins.
Tip the ground masala and stir it all together till chicken is well coated with the masala.
Salt the curry at this point. I usually under salt it so once it’s cooked I can add more if I need to.
Put the lid on and cook on high heat till the first two whistles are out (only if the pieces are big, else one whistle will do).
As soon as you hear the second whistle, lower the flame and let it cook for 15 mins. Don’t worry about the whistles now.
After 15 mins, take it off the heat and let the pressure drop on its own.
Do a taste check and sprinkle some coriander leaves to finish.
Serve with rice or roti.
I find it easier to use the pressure cooker for meats nowadays. But the trick is to not cook it on high heat counting a certain number of whistles throughout. First on high and then on low heat for 10-15 mins (chicken) will result in perfectly soft and juicy meat. For mutton, I cook it on high for two whistles and then on low for 20 mins. Slow cooking takes forever and quite honestly, I don’t see the difference. Unless of course, it’s slow cooked on coal. For home cooking, pressure cooker is quite the saviour.