Murgh Handi is a Pakistani chicken dish packed with flavor. Chicken pieces are stir-fried in a spiced tomato sauce and served with naan or basmati rice. This dish is traditionally made in a handi, a glazed terracotta pan, and cooked over a wood fire. I did not have this option, so I used a large wok on the stove. You won’t get the smokiness with this cooking method, but the chicken is still delicious.
Whole spices are common in Pakistani cuisine. They are either dry-fried whole or lightly crushed immediately prior to cooking. Pre-ground spices lose their flavor more quickly. I lightly crushed the coriander, cumin, and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle right before adding them to the oil.
Red chilli powder is not the same in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine as the Chili Powder found in the United States. There are various levels of heat available if you are able find Indian chilli powder. If you don’t have access to an International food market, cayenne pepper powder is also a good substitution.
Kasuri Methi are dried fenugreek leaves. It is a popular spice in Middle Eastern and South Asian cooking. Crumble the leaves as you add it to your dish to help release some of the slightly bitter flavor. It is available in Indian and Middle Eastern food markets. It is also on Amazon: Peacock Kasoori Methi(dried Fenugreek Leaves) 3.5 Oz.
Murgh Handi (Pakistani Chicken with Tomatoes)
Adapted from Great British Chefs
3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (cayenne, not Chili Powder)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried Kasuri Methi (fenugreek leaves)
50 grams Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon julienned ginger
In a handi pan, wok, or large pan, drizzle oil over medium heat. Add the cardamom, coriander, and cumin. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and brown.
Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Mix in tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. If too dry, add a little water.
Stir in the chicken pieces, red chilli (cayenne) powder, salt, pepper, and garam masala. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned on sides, but not yet done in center. Crumble in the kasuri methi, then stir in the yogurt. Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked in center. Mix in coconut.
Serve immediately with naan or basmati rice and garnished with cilantro, green chillies, and ginger.