Methi Murgh – A welcome distraction

Mallika Basu - Methi Murgh – A welcome distraction

Posted 4th September 2008

It’s been a tough week. Two conflicting work deadlines. Too many colleagues on holiday.

I sat at work with double vision, editing draft 25 of a report that was once interesting. Contemplating professional suicide by staging an untimely walk out.

There were two options. I could tell my line manager where to shove her Earth-shatteringly important document. Or I could vent my frustration through a reassuringly fiddly Methi Murgh at home.

I chose the second option. You may wonder why I didn’t choose to order a takeaway. Vegetate in front of the TV. Dream about my next holiday in bright sunshine.

But there is something strangely therapeutic about hacking an onion into little bits, skinning chicken pieces and beating tomatoes into pulp. Violent, moi?

One hour of no thinking about work and the result was Methi Murgh, a thick and delicious Punjabi Dhaba-style Chicken curry, packed with the wholesome goodness of sweet fresh tomatoes and bitter fenugreek.

Next time you want to tell your boss where to go…

PS = Just as I finished licking my plate clean a terrific recipe for Methi Murgh popped up on Zaika. Great minds think alike. Although her’s was in a more positive frame.

Feeds 2:

  • 4 skinned chicken thighs or drumsticks (600-700gm)
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp thick yogurt (Greek works best)
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • 50 gm fresh fenugreek leaves or methi
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Chop the onion into little pieces. Peel the ginger and garlic. In a small food processor, puree the tomatoes together with the ginger and garlic.

Next, dry roast the whole spices in an oven for a five seconds or on a flat frying pan. Grind them into a fine powder. I used a coffee grinder.

Wash the fenugreek throughly under a cold tap and remove any hard stalks. Then set a large pot with one tablespoon to heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry for five minutes stirring constantly until it turns pale brown.

Then add the spice powder and stir for another two minutes. If it starts getting stuck on the bottom of the pan, just add a little bit of hot water and scrape off.

Now add the pureed tomatoes mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, then mix in the yogurt. The masala with thicken and start to get stuck on the sides of the pot. No panic, just add a little more hot water. When the masala darkens and it’s pungent smell goes, add salt to taste and then go in with a hand blender to puree it to a smooth mixture. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it gives you that restaurant finish.

In goes the chicken next, which you need to brown on either side mixing in the masala well. Then add hot water next to submerge the chicken, lower the flame slightly to a medium high and cook until it’s cooked. This takes a good 20-25 minutes. Just make sure you keep stirring from time to time so it doesn’t burn.

When you feel the chicken is almost ready, fry the fenugreek leaves in a small saucepan with the remaining tablespoon of oil until wilted and a darker shade of green. Then mix them into the chicken curry, lower the heat and simmer for two minutes. When oil floats to the top, your Methi Murgh is ready.

This dish is perfect with a simple dal and steaming hot basmati rice.

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