Celebrity Chefs Recipes: Preeti Mistry's Methi Chicken

Photos: Vic Chin, Video: Vic Chin and Peter Ruocco

I especially like serving this curry in the summer when we have fresh Early Girl tomatoes from Dirty Girl, or San Marzano tomatoes from Full Belly Farm. Alternatively, it works just as well with canned organic tomatoes in the winter. The fresh fenugreek leaves really make the flavor in this curry as well. If you cannot find fresh fenugreek leaves you can use frozen or dried, but the flavor will not be as pronounced. 

Methi Chicken

Makes 6 servings

Methi Chicken on rice (Vic Chin)

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • ¼ cup minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Garam masala (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 whole chicken legs, skin removed

Curry Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup fresh fenugreek leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced Serrano chilies
  • 1 tablespoon Dhanna Jeeru masala (recipe below)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Garam masala (recipe below)
  • 1 quart Early Girl or San Marzano tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. To marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, Garam masala, turmeric and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.
  2. Make the curry while the chicken marinates: Melt the butter in a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the fenugreek leaves, ginger, garlic, and chilies. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the Garam masala, Dhanna Jeeru masala, and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes with any juices that have accumulated, and scrape the bottom of the pan well to incorporate any spices that have begun to stick. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer.
  6. Remove the chicken legs from the marinade and discard the marinade. Add the marinated legs to the simmering curry, making sure they are fully submerged in the liquid. Cover and simmer until the meat begins to pull away from the bones, about 20 minutes.
  7. When chicken is fully cooked, stir in the heavy cream. Serve immediately over rice and garnish with a sprig of fenugreek leaves.
Chef Preeti Mistry holds a dish of her Methi Chicken.
Chef Preeti Mistry holds a dish of her Methi Chicken. (Vic Chin)

Dhanna Jeeru Masala

Makes 1 cup

Dhanna Jeera Masala
Dhanna Jeera Masala (Vic Chin/Peter Ruocco)

In Gujarati, Dhanna Jeeru literally means “coriander cumin” - and that’s exactly what this is. A staple in Gujarati cooking found in many dishes, it’s one of the few blends we don’t toast before grinding. Instead, it is lightly sautéed during the cooking process, like in the dal above.

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Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup whole cumin seeds

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a spice grinder, combine the coriander and cumin seeds and grind them to a powder.
  2. Store the masala in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

Garam Masala

Makes 2 cups

Garam Masala
Garam Masala (Vic Chin/Peter Ruocco)

Garam masala is the most well-known Indian spice blend, which is why you can buy it in most American grocery stores—but don’t buy it. Homemade Garam masala is so much more flavorful! Every cook or kitchen in India has its own Garam masala recipe. In Hindi, Garam means warm or hot, not to be confused with spicy. This masala is intended to fuse together into a blend that is warming, but not overly spicy.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup whole cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup whole fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
  • 10 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • Two 2-inch cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup dried chile de arbol
  • ¼ cup whole black peppercorns

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Measure out all the spices onto a sheet pan. Bake until the spices begin to slightly smoke and turn a little brown, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool fully.
  3. Working in batches, grind the spices to a powder in a spice grinder.
  4. Store the masala in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

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