Parsi-braised chicken marylands

This curry-inspired chicken dish is redolent with spice and tangy sweetness.
This curry-inspired chicken dish is redolent with spice and tangy sweetness. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Gluten-free

Adapted from traditional Persian curries, this aromatic dish is the kind of thing I crave when it's cold and I want to cook at home. Paired with a beautiful rice pilaf and citrus roasted carrots, you've taken what could be a yummy weeknight dinner and turned it into a meal you could easily and impressively entertain with.

Ingredients

4 large chicken marylands

60g garlic cloves, peeled

60g ginger, peeled

400g sliced onion

85g butter

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

1 tin crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar

salt

basmati rice and yoghurt, to serve

Method

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.

*Even though guajillos are, in fact, a Mexican variety of chilli, I use them in all kinds of dishes. Its heat is quite warming and gently builds in the background, unlike some dried Asian varieties, which hit you with heat from the first bite. They are worth seeking out and adding to a variety of soups and stews. Guajillo chillies are available from specialist suppliers such as Fireworks Foods, The Essential Ingredient and Herbie's Spices.