Here are six worldly ways to have your spring chicken right now:
Nepali Chicken Curry
Serves 6 regular portions or 8 small ones
4 large chicken quarters (4 pounds), skinned as much as you can and cut into 3” pieces (this is larger than bite-sized)
¼ c vegetable oil
1 dried Arbol or other thin red chili, whole
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed into a paste with the ginger, or smashed and minced
2“ fresh ginger, peeled, smashed and minced into a paste with the garlic, or grated
2 tbsp ground cumin*
1 tbsp ground coriander*
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, diced (do not substitute canned or boxed: too juicy)
1 small fresh green chili pepper (e.g. Serrano, jalapeño), minced
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves stripped from the stems and minced
*Grinding the seeds definitely enhances the flavor
Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with the vegetable oil, get it hot on medium flame, then fry the dried pepper for a minute to flavor the oil. Add the onion, stirring to blend into the oil and sauté 3 minutes to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin. Stir and continue to sauté about a minute to brown this mixture.
Stir in the turmeric. Add the chicken pieces and blend. Add 3 tbsp of water or chicken stock and raise the heat to high. For 5 minutes, constantly stir the chicken so it doesn’t burn, scrapping up any brown scraps that stick to the bottom of the pan, to obtain full flavor.
Lower heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, minced green chili, salt, 2 tbsp of water or chicken stock. Cook 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom and burns. Add 2 tbsp of water or chicken stock if the pan is drying out. Add a handful of chopped cilantro and blend. Cook 5 more minutes, adding water or stock a tbsp. at a time if the chicken doesn’t have enough sauce for your taste. Check salt and chili flavor and adjust to your taste, using ground chili powder.
Afghani Chicken Qorma
This is a qorma lawand, a fragrant Afghan curry thickened by nuts and made creamy by yogurt that's naturally sweetened by carrots (native to Afghanistan) and raisins.
1/2 cup almonds
4 garlic cloves
2" fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1/2 c water or chicken broth if you prefer
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (breast meat won't be as tasty or tender)
1/4 ghee or unsalted butter
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 yellow onions thinly sliced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced (2 if you like hot food)
2 med carrots, peeled and sliced in thin disks
1/3 cup dark raisins
1 heaping cup plain thick yogurt
salt and black pepper to your taste
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
In a food processor purée the nuts, garlic, ginger and water.
Put this into a large bowl.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, stir into the marinade.
Marinate at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Melt the ghee in a large heavy gauge lidded casserole over medium heat. Add the spices and sauté about 30 seconds until they are fragrant but not brown. Stir in the onions and chili pepper. Sauté until the onions are soft and starting to brown, maybe 7 minutes.
Stir the chicken into the pot with all its marinade. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Stir in the carrots and raisins and yogurt, blending everything. Add 1/2 c water or chicken broth to make gravy. Bring to a boil,then reduce heat to low simmer, cover the pot and simmer 40 minutes, adding water or broth if the dish seems to be drying out. Most important: keep heat low to avoid curdling the yogurt. Serve with the chopped cilantro on top as garnish. Serve with rice, roasted potatoes or naan and perhaps a simple spinach salad.
Simple sophistication on a serving plate. This colorful and healthy combination is an old favorite.
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 c brown/green lentils
2 whole cloves
2 c broccolini cut into bite sized pieces (you can use regular broccoli too)
1 c scallions cut into thick disks
1 English cucumber, peeled, halved and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 c grated orange carrots
1 1/2 c roasted cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
Mixed lettuces/arugula, watercress, baby spinach--greens, to serve
2 c raita or tsatsiki (store bought is fine)
pinch of ground nutmeg
Put the broccolini in boiling salted water and cook until tender. Drain really well.
Cook the chicken one of two ways: poach it in salted water or put it on a baking tray, cover with foil and bake at 350º 25-30 minutes until it is just cooked through but still moist. Remove immediately, cool and cut into large bite-sized pieces (1/2-3/4" cubed).
Boil the lentils in salted water with the cloves until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain well and cool.
(You can assemble all this ahead of serving.)
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccolini, scallions, cucumber and carrots, and blend well. Add the raita and thoroughly blend everything. Check and adjust for salt.
Arrange the greens on a serving platter and sprinkle very lightly with olive oil. arrange the chicken salad over the greens. Sprinkle with nutmeg and top with the chopped cashew nuts to serve.
Very delicious served with garlic naan and sliced fresh tomatoes.
Ethiopian Berbere-spiced Chicken
Preheat oven to 450F
6 chicken thighs ( skin-on)
2-3 T Berbere Spice Mix
3-4 tbsp corn oil
Pat the chicken dry and salt all sides.
Generously rub each piece with Berbere spice mix.**
Heat oil (enough to totally cover the bottom 1/8" at least) in a heavy bottom skillet you can put into the oven, on medium high heat, place chicken skin side down and sear until is crispy, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, flip over, and turn heat down to medium. Sear 3-4 minutes. Put the hot pan in the oven 10 minutes. Top with coarse seat salt to serve for extra finger licking finesse.
One more time because I can't say it enough:
BERBERE SPICE MIX
3 T sweet paprika
1 T red pepper flakes, ground plus more for extra spicy
2 tsp cumin seeds or powdered cumin
1 tsp coriander seed (or powder)
1 tsp cardamom powder or 1 tsp cardamom seeds (shell off)
1 tsp turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (or powder)
1 tsp black peppercorns or freshly ground peppercorn
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
If using whole seeds, lightly toast them on the stove top in a skillet for 2-3 minutes.
Grind them using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Remember to crush or grind the chili flakes.
1 1/2 c full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp ground cumin
3 pounds (8-10 large) chicken thighs, on the bone
1/4 lb (i stick) unsalted butter
4 tsp corn or vegetable oil
2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 ttsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
Kosher salt to taste
2/3 c chicken stock
1 1/2 c whipping or heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
3 tbsp ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed. leaves chopped
Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (up to a 24 hrs).
In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and cumin seeds. Cook until onions start to brown.
Add cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt. Cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook 5 minutes; Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and tomato paste; Simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10 - 15 minutes.
Add the almonds, cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro leaves to serve.
Judy Rodgers' Famous Zuni Cafe Roasted Chicken
This is served for 2 at the restaurant but I think you could get 3 out of it.
One 2 3/4 lb free-range good quality chicken
4 thyme sprigs
4 small garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
2 tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs. Stuff the thyme and garlic under the skin and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up, and roast 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast for about 15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a board and let rest 10 minutes; carve.
This is typically served by taking the pan juices from the chicken and pouring them boiling hot over some lightly sauteed chunks of bread. Stir in a handful of raisins and handful of pine nuts and a tsp grated lemon zest.