• 1 whole chicken, boned and cut into 2" pieces (or six boneless chicken breasts)
  • ¼ cup safflower oil
  • ¼ cup butter, clarified
  • 3 cups finely-chopped yellow onions
  • 3 cloves finely-chopped garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh ginger
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 12 green cardamom pods or 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup milk


Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside. Peel the onions and chop them fine. You should have about 3 cups of onion. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl of chopped onions. Mix the coriander and cayenne pepper with the yogurt in a bowl, and set aside.

In a big frypan that has a lid, heat about 1/3 of the butter and oil, then saute the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes, until the first hint of browning. Use "medium-high" heat.

In a second frying pan, melt the rest of the butter with the rest of the oil, then add the chicken pieces. Brown over high heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, crack the cardamom seeds between your fingers, then add them to the pan with the onion. Also add the ginger, cloves, bay leaves and salt to the onion mixture. Saute until the onions are nice and brown, about 5 more minutes.

Add the yogurt to the onions, stirring as you pour, slowly enough that the onion doesn't stop bubbling. It could take several minutes to do this, depending on the diameter of your pan. When the last of the yogurt dries up, add the cooked chicken pieces, stir, deglaze the pan that the chicken came from with 3/4 cup water, and add that in to the onion and chicken mixture. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary, to keep the mixture from burning.

Stir in the milk and turn off the heat. It needs to sit a few minutes to let the flavors blend. The longer you let it sit after cooking, the better it will taste (up to several hours).

While the chicken is sitting, make saffron rice to go with this dish.

Fish out the bay leaves and as many of the whole cloves as you can find, before serving. Americans don't seem to like to eat whole cloves in their food. Check to make sure it is moist enough -- it should have the consistency of applesauce -- and add more milk if needed. Reheat over low heat. Serve.


* Indian braised chicken with onions, cloves and ginger -- I learned to like Indian food in London, where delicious Indian food can be had in simple restaurants at hamburger prices and the fare at fancy places ranks among the finest food on Earth. Back in America, to satisfy my new craving for good Indian food I had to learn to cook it myself. This is a Friday-night supper dish in our family, too complex for a weekday meal, and too plain to serve to company.

Indian food is often quite elaborate, so by their standards this is a fast and simple dish. It is a classical Indian recipe, found in many cookbooks.

* Indians put a lot more salt in their cooking than this recipe calls for; if you want to make it more authentic you should double the salt. Indians also don't like chicken skin and will go to great lengths to prevent even small pieces of chicken skin from getting into the food. I rather like chicken skin myself, and I don't try very hard to keep it out of this dish.

* If you can't find green cardamom seeds, don't bother using white ones, they've been bleached and processed and don't have much flavor left. Use ground cardamom instead.

Chicken, Healthy, Low Cholesterol, Low Fat, Low Saturated Fat
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