If you are thinking that the number of cardamom pods required by this dish sounds like an awful lot – you’re right. And the extra step of adding more cardamom towards the end of cooking really ensures that the whole cardamom effect is not subtle – but that’s kind of the point of this dish. If you don’t love cardamom, I wouldn’t recommend giving this a try, but if you do, I think it is kind of nice to have a dish where its unique flavour really stands out, and is complimented by the other ingredients, like lime, fresh coriander, green chillies, and curry leaves.
If you have an outdoor barbeque, this dish would work really well cooked on this. If you are inside, either a griddle pan, or just a plain old fry pan will also work just fine. The chicken requires some time marinating, so start preparing at least six hours before you intend to serve.
(Serves 4 as a main)
- 1kg free-range chicken breast – cut into 3cm cubes
- 10 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- Small amount of canola or sunflower oil for cooking
- 8 small curry leaves
- 1½ brown onions
- 7cm piece of ginger - peeled and finely grated
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 2 mild green chillies - finely chopped
- 3 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt
- Salt & pepper
- 3 limes - 2 juiced, the third to juice and garnish.
- Small bunch of fresh coriander
To prepare the marinade for the chicken, begin by removing the cardamom seeds from their pods. Discard the outer pods and add the cardamom seeds, along with the coriander seeds to a mortar and pestle. Crush both spices together until you have a fine and fragrant powder.
In a small, dry frying pan, heat the spices together over a low heat for a couple of minutes, or until they become very aromatic. Remove from heat and put aside to be re-introduced shortly.
Next, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the curry leaves to the oil when hot, and fry for a minute, before adding the chopped onion. Stir together and cook over a medium heat for two minutes before adding the grated ginger and chopped green chillies. Cook everything together and, when the onion is looking translucent, add the crushed garlic and fry for further 2 minutes, stirring to ensure the garlic does not stick or burn.
Leave this mixture aside to cool while you prepare the chicken. Take care to remove any stringy white tendon from the chicken breast, and then cut it evenly into bite-sized cubes.
When the onion mixture has cooled a little, blend in a food processor, together with ¾ of the toasted cardamom and coriander (reserve the rest to add during cooking), as well as the bunch of fresh coriander, and the juice of 2 limes. Pulse until you have a rough paste, and then remove from the food-processor into a large bowl. Add the yogurt to the bowl, and mix together with the paste. Season the yogurt marinade with salt and pepper before adding the chicken to the bowl and turning to coat it thoroughly in the marinade.
Place this covered in a bowl, or ziplock bag, in the fridge overnight, or for a minimum of six hours.
When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat your implement of choice – bbq, griddle, or frying pan to high. If you are using a bbq or griddle pan, brush on a light coat of oil, for a frying pan you’ll need 2 tablespoons or so at least. Cook the marinated chicken pieces, turning frequently in the frying pan, until they are browned all over. If you are using a bbq or griddle, give each piece enough time to develop a decent char or griddle mark before turning to do the same on the next side. When the chicken is almost cooked sprinkle over the reserved spice powder and squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
Cut the other half of the lime into wedges, and arrange these around the cooked chicken on a large serving platter. Top with a stem of curry leaves to garnish, if you have some of these left over, or some extra coriander leaves in place of this if you prefer. A mint yogurt dipping sauce would also be yummy alongside.