Friday, 7 September 2012

Mouri Chicken ~ Chicken with Fennel Seeds

When you have someone in your home who can  have chicken on all 365 days of the year, you need to put your thinking cap and invent new recipes at regular intervals so that it doesn't become a boring affair. My hubby loves chicken in any form, maybe that's the only thing he is not picky about. I also love to cook chicken as it doesn't take much effort to dish out a delicious recipe, the chicken itself makes it easy for the cook.

So I had exhausted all the traditional chicken recipes as well as the tweaked ones a needed something new and easy. The only flavoring I hadn't tried with chicken was that of fennel or mouri. And going by the cooking rule book, mouri is good for mutton gravy as mutton itself has a pretty strong smell to compliment the comparatively mild smelling fennel. But then some of the best dishes evolve out of experiments only. And with chicken everything is a safe experiment. So I decided to try my luck with fennel.

Fennel seeds are a prominent part of  Italian cuisine, but are also much used in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. A great source of vitamins and minerals - they work particularly well with fish and red meat dishes. The agreeable, warm, aromatic sweet odour, somewhat similar to that of anise pairs well with chicken as well. The licorice taste adds a fun flavour to every dish it's a part of.

This particular chicken recipe has a triple seasoning of fennel: fennel seeds in the sautéed spices, fennel paste in the gravy base and shallow fried and crushed fennel seeds for garnishing and as a flavour enhancer. The fennel infuses its flavour into the succulent chicken pieces, the juices of the chicken in turn mix with the gravy and make it satisfyingly stodgy.


Preparation & Marination Time: 1-2 hrs
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4
Cuisine: Bengali

Ingredients:
  • Chicken - 1 Kg  (preferably select drumsticks and thighs )
  • Fennel Seeds (Mouri) - 1 tsp
  • Fennel Seed Paste - 4 tsp
  • Shallow fried and crushed fennel seed - 1 tsp 
  • Bay Leaf - 3-4 (cleaned and dried)
  • Curd - 200 gm (beaten and kept aside)
  • Freshly Ground Coriander/ Coriander powder - 4 tsp
  • Freshly Ground Cumin/ Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
  • Everest Meat Masala - 4 tsp (if you dont have this, increase the fennel seed paste, cumin and  coriander powder by 1 tsp each)
  • Turmeric Powder - 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder or paprika - 3 tsp ( reduce the amount depending on your spice tolerance)
  • Onions - 1 large (grind to paste)
  • Onions - 2 large ( sliced longitudinally) 
  • Lemon - 1
  • Tomato - 1 large (diced)
  • Garlic Cloves - 5-6
  • Ginger - 1.5 tsp
  • Freshly ground black pepper/ Pepper powder - 3 tsp
  • Sugar  (to taste)  
  • Refined Oil - 1.5 cup
  • Salt (to taste)

Procedure:

Marinade:

  1. Clean the chicken and keep it in a bowl. 
  2. Beat the curd to a smooth texture. Add the salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, ground black pepper, cumin and coriander powder into it and mix well.
  3. Slather the chicken pieces with the curd and powdered spice mixture. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to the mixture
  4. Marinate the chicken for 2 hours
Gravy:
  1. Dice one onion and tomato and grind it to fine paste in the grinder. 
  2. Take the other two onions and slice it longitudinally.
  3. Crush the ginger and garlic coarsely in a mortar.
  4. Heat oil in a wok. Add bay leaf and fennel seeds to it and let them to sizzle a bit until fragrant
  5. Add the tomato and onion paste to it and fry for a minute
  6. Add the sliced onion
  7. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar to it. Salt would help the onions to get cooked faster and sugar helps to give the onion the nice caramelised hue.
  8. When the onions become golden brown add the crushed garlic and ginger. Fry for a minute.
  9. Add the fennel seed paste. Fry for a couple of minutes.
  10. Add the rest of the curd. Fry it for 3-4 minutes.
  11. When the oil separates from the spices toss in the marinated chicken and coat the chicken evenly with the spices in the wok. Continue to stir fry for 10 more minutes.
  12. Turn heat to medium-low, cover the wok and cook for 30 minutes, or until the oil slightly separates, chicken is tender enough and you have achieve the gravy consistency that you prefer. No need to add extra water, the chicken will get cooked from its own water content and the curd. Only if you feel the spices sticking to the wok bottom sprinkle some water to avoid burning.Or add water if you like the gravy to be thinner. I personally prefer it to be of medium consistency.
  13. Squeeze half a teaspoon of lemon juice while the chicken is getting cooked. All the flavours put together are amazing and the lemon juice adds the required zing to the gravy
  14. Once the chicken is tender, sprinkle the Everest meat masala and mix well. 

Garnishing:
  1. Take a thin bottomed frying pan and heat it
  2. Drizzle the pan with oil
  3. Add the fennel seeds and let it splutter
  4. When you can smell the aroma of fennel, take it out from the heat and let the pan cool. 
  5. When the fried seeds have cooled down, crush them into an even mix.
Once the chicken gravy is ready, sprinkle this crushed mix over it. Spread it in the gravy and cover it.


Chicken has a tendency to become dry during cooking. There are two suggestions for this : 1. Use all drumsticks and thighs portion for the gravy; these will combine with the  flavour the fennel brilliantly and remain moist even if you overcook them slightly. 
2.You may remove the breasts early to keep them from drying out and later on when the gravy is fully cooked douse them in the gravy.

This curry pairs pretty much with everything like rice, chapati (indian flat bread),Indian Naan. If you like fusion food you may team it up with mildly spiced pasta as well.

Mouri Chicken
 Lay out a bed of steaming rice or freshly made chapati on one side of the serving plate. Place the chicken pieces at the center of the plate, delicately spoon over some of the gravy over them, garnish with a dash of chopped coriander and a lemon wedge.  That's it, your dinner is ready!

Bon Apetite!

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