Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicken Cafreal - A Goan Portuguese Delicacy

Chicken Cafreal is a very popular ambrosial dish of Portuguese origin found in the Indian state of Goa. If you visit any non-vegetarian joint in Goa, you are sure to be enthralled and welcomed by this dish. The charm of the interplay of flavours comes from the fiery, hot spicy green hued paste. The heat enduring combination of Green chillies, Garlic cloves, Ginger aptly balanced with a generous hand of Coriander leaves. Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Pepper add the zing with the spicy flavours; add a bite of the odd spices with strong dominant flavours - Poppy seeds, Nutmeg and Mace. If you don't like meat, make your own Vegan or Vegetarian Cafreal version with vegetables like Potato, Soya Chunks.

In the Goan version, the grilled chicken drumstick is first cooked for good 30 minutes in a bubbly mix of the green spice paste. Thereafter, the chicken drumsticks are bathed in butter and charred on the heat for the crispy fried finish. I prefer to soak in the green pasty marinade for 24 hours for better retention of flavours. The lime juice supports the meat tenderising process which enables the breakdown of tissues and absorption of the spices. Chicken Cafreal is the Goan Tandoori Chicken if I may say so. I have eaten this version which was a home cooked one at a friend's place and then many of them at restaurants. The flavour is distinct since the Chicken pieces are cooked and then pan fried. Served with Salad on the side, this one surely opens up your senses and is a unique quintessential Goan way of eating spicy hot Chicken.

Preparation time: 24 hours (includes the steeping time for the chicken in marinade)
Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Note - This is a spicy dish. Use spices as per discretion and preference.

Chicken Drumstick (skinless) - 5
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 2 cups packed
Green Chillies - 4
Mint leaves - 1/2 cup packed
Garlic - 10-12 flakes
Ginger - 1 and 1/4 " piece
Poppy seeds - 1 teaspoon
Whole Black Pepper corns - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon stick - 2" piece
Cloves - 2-3
Mace - 1/2 teaspoon
Nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
Lime juice - 1 tablespoon
Lime zest - 1 tablespoon

Clean the Chicken Drumstick thoroughly in water and pat dry. Defrost the Chicken completely before use. Soak Poppy seeds in warm water for 20 minutes. Make a smooth paste with just enough water of all the ingredients except Butter. Apply this paste to the Chicken, drizzle some juice and refrigerate in a tall zip lock bag for 24 hours. The lime juice aids as a good meat tenderising agent and makes the Chicken soft and supple.
Next day while cooking, remove and thaw for 1/2 before use. Heat the pan, add oil and the ground paste. Add Chicken Drumstick one by one and cook till the chicken is cooked completely. Cover with a lid to aid faster cooking and gravy reduction. Add Lime zest at this stage to make the meat tender and soft. Once done the gravy will reduce 1/4 in volume, add butter shavings on the side and fry the chicken on all sides. If you are health conscious omit the step of adding butter and just leave the chicken on its own. Add lime juice and pan-fry for 2 minutes. Turn off flame and serve hot as a side dish. Support with Salad of choice.
Note - For better tasting Chicken, marinate for 24 hours. The flavour of Chicken has a profound difference. Do not overcook your Chicken. By doing so you run the risk of disintegrating the meat from the bone.


  1. Looks's a wonderful combination of spices..definitely want to try it one day..

  2. @ Cooking Blog Indexer - Thanks! Its a spicy treat and a yummy one indeed.


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