60g garlic cloves, peeled
60g ginger, peeled
400g sliced onion
2 tbsp olive oil
8 cardamon pods
6 whole cloves
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 cinnamon quill
5 small dried red chillies
2 dried guajillo chillies*
100ml white wine
8-10 crushed tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
basmati rice and yoghurt to serve
1. Using a mortar and pestle, a blender or a Microplane, puree the ginger and garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt. Mix and set aside. This will make more than you need but the mixture will keep in the fridge for a few days.
2. Season the chicken with salt and rub with some of the ginger/garlic paste. Leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
3. Set a wide pan over medium/high heat and add the butter and olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down and try to brown a bit of the skin without burning the ginger-garlic paste (a bit of caramelisation is totally fine as long as it doesn’t go into burnt territory).
4. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Immediately add the onions and cook until they are softened and starting to caramelise. Then add the cardamom, cloves, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cinnamon and chillies. Sizzle together until it is all very aromatic.
5. Add the white wine and let that cook out for a minute. Then add the crushed tomatoes and the jaggery and one litre of cold water. Place the chicken back in the pan, in one even layer, and bring to a simmer and then reduce heat and braise over low heat for 45 minutes to one hour with a lid slightly ajar or with a baking paper lid (cartouche). Every now and then, flip the chicken pieces over so every bit of it has some time cooking in the sauce. To know when the chicken is cooked, wiggle the thigh. It will start to feel loose in the joint. You may need to add more water if you cook it much longer.
6. When the chicken is meltingly tender, it’s ready to serve. Serve with basmati rice or a simple pilaf and a dollop of yoghurt.
*Guajillo chillies are available from specialist suppliers such as Fireworks Foods, The Essential Ingredient and Herbie’s Spices.
Brown butter and citrus roasted carrots
This is a beautiful accompaniment to my Parsi-braised chicken but would be equally lovely with a roasted chicken or you could swap the labna for some browned haloumi to make a more substantial vegetarian dish.
2 bunches Dutch carrots
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
zest of ½ lemon
zest of ½ lime
zest of ½ orange
juice from ½ lemon
1 tbsp honey
6 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stalks discarded
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Wash and scrub the carrots and cut off the green tops, if they have them. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them in the oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on their size. You want them to be completely soft and caramelised all over.
3. Meanwhile, put the butter in a pan over medium heat and allow it to melt and turn into brown butter, swirling the pan occasionally so it cooks evenly. When the butter has coloured to nut brown and remove it from the heat and add the citrus zest and the picked thyme leaves (be careful as it will splatter). Add the honey and the juice of half a lemon. Mix to combine and keep warm until ready to serve.
4. To assemble, spread the labna at the base of a serving platter, arrange the carrots on top, then pour over the brown butter sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.