Chicken chaap is an Awadhi dish and it was first introduced to Bengal by the Nawabs during the eighteenth century. Due to its powerful flavors, it didn’t take long to get the respectable position among the food lovers of Bengal. Almost all of the Mughlai food joints in Kolkata such as Arsalan, Aminia, Shiraz etc. are quite popular for their Chicken Chaap dishes. In case you are a Mughlai cuisine lover, this is an absolutely must-try recipe. To cook chicken chaap, you need to just follow some steps properly with some essential ingredients.
But before jumping into the recipe, I should tell you some important points regarding it. Here the leg pieces and giant chunks of the chicken are firstly marinated with yogurt or sour curd(Tok Doi) and some spices. After that, the frying and the cooking are done. Spices are most noteworthy parts to cook chicken chaap due to the fact that it’s a rich aromatic cuisine with thick gravy. Hence spices are very much important both in quantity and the method of preparation. The original recipe incorporates ghee as the medium of cooking. Though only oil is okay, just add a little ghee to it for flavor. If you are okay with probably more richer version, you can add more ghee.
Ingredients such as poppy seeds, cashew paste, ‘kewra water’ or essence (an extract that’s distilled from pandanus flowers, is used to flavor meats) and garam masala are especially relevant for this dish. Only small quantity of kewra essence is okay due to its strong aroma.
To cook chicken chaap, go through all the ingredients and collect everything from stores. The absence of any one can tamper the taste.
1.Chicken – Around 1 kg cut into big chunks, probably in 4 leg quarters (serves 4)
2.Greek Yogurt( or Sour curd) – 1 cup
3. Onion – 1 big chopped
4. Garlic paste – 1 or 1/2 tbsp
5.Ginger paste – 1 tsp
6. Kashmiri Red Chili Powder – 2 tbsp
7. Red Chili powder – 1/2 Tsp or as per your taste
8. Coriander powder – 1 tsp
9. Poppy seeds – 2 tbsp
10. Whole Cashew – 15 pieces
11. Cardamom – 4
12. Cinnamon – 1 inch
13. Clove – 4
14. Javitri (Mace ) – 3-4 blades
15. Star anise – 1
16. A pinch of Sugar
17. Oil(4 tbsp) + Ghee( 2 tbsp)
18. Kewra water – few drops
19. Salt as per taste.
To cook chicken chap, preparation time takes longer. You must keep the marinated chicken for at least four hours. Hence, you can start preparing at the earliest.
1.At first, take all the dry spices like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, mace and star anise and dry roast them. Cool them down and grind it. It must be converted into powders. Keep it aside.
2. Now take a big pan, add oil and wait until it gets hot. Once the oil is ready, add the chopped onion and saute it lightly until it gets light golden brown. Turn off the gas/induction. After it gets cool, place all the onions in a blender so that you can make a paste.Soak the poppy seeds and cashew in half cup of water for 15 mins.
3.Soak the poppy seeds and cashew in half cup of water for 15 mins. Now make a paste in the same manner.
4. Finally, it’s the time for the chicken. Rinse properly with clear water and place all the chicken pieces in a large bowl/vessel. It’s time to pour the yogurt, the onion paste, garlic paste, ginger paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt, sugar, the poppy seeds and cashew paste. Now mix all these properly. At this time, you can add a pinch of corn flour or plain flour for avoiding the curdling from yogurt. Keep it like this for 4-6 hours.
5. Add oil and ghee to the pan and wait until it gets hot. Now add the chicken pieces from the marinade to the hot oil. Saute the chicken pieces with light hands for few minutes. Next pour the rest of the marinade too. Stir it periodically and cook chicken chaap over medium to high flame. Don’t forget to cover it with a lid. After few minutes, remove the lid and stir until the oil comes up from the sides of the pan. Let the chicken pieces soak all the flavors and be tender.
6. Taste the mixture, add half to one tsp of the garam masala. Finally, add few drops of kewra water. Stir again and mix it properly. Chicken Chaap is ready to be served hot with Biryani, Naans or tandoori rotis.