Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chicken Xacuti | Chicken Shaguti

Chicken Shaguti is the version cooked in Hindu Brahmin homes in Goa. This dish is also known as Chicken Xacuti and has its roots influenced by Portuguese cuisine. One thing which stands out is the manner in which this dish is made by Goan Hindus vs Goan Christians. The jury is still out on that and I think the biggest differentiating factor is the use of Lime vs Vinegar and local chillies for e.g Bicholim Chillies vs Kashmiri Chillies. If you visit any home in Goa for a Shaguti lunch, you will hear this comment coming often. This recipe is from a very close friend's Mum who hails from Siolim, Goa. My favorite Chicken recipes are Chicken Shaguti, Chicken Cafreal and Kori Rotti.

The color of Chicken Shaguti curry is greenish brown and is thicker than fish curry but very rich, intense and spicy. The meat is first dunked in a marinade with turmeric powder, large knobs of crushed ginger and loads of herbs. The quantity might seem a lot, but it is what the recipe requires and hence the masala is 'zhanzhaneet' as my friend informed me. In Goa, we usually eat this with Pao, Katri, Unno, Tandlachi Bhakri or white rice. Since this is a curry with a very strong gravy base, Rotis prove to be meek and cannot withstand the strong intense aroma of this curry. The base of the gravy can be used to cook Prawns and Clams. The vegetarians need not lose heart. You could use the same gravy with Paneer, Soya Chunks, Potato or Beans of different kinds. I enjoyed this style of chicken cooked in a spicy gravy.

~ Chicken Shaguti ~
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Chicken (Dark Boneless Meat) - 3 lbs.
Goan Garam Masala - 1 tbsp
Indian Bay Leaf - 2
Coconut milk - 1/3 cup
Turmeric powder - 3 tbsp

Onion (medium, sliced finely) - 5
Garlic cloves (peeled and slit into two) - 10-12
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/3 cup

Green Masala/ Harvo Masalo -
Ginger (peeled and cut into large chops) - a large knob of 2" piece
Green Chillies - 3
Coriander leaves - 5-6 strands
Lime juice - half of a lime

Shaguti Masala -
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Black Pepper (whole) - 10-12
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
Cloves - 6
Cinnamon (broken into pieces) - 2" piece
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Red Chillies - 2
Tamarind (optional) - 1 tbsp


For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 2-3 strands

Contraptions required -
Coffee Grinder

Chicken in Marinade - Clean and trim the chicken of any excess fat. Wash and pat dry. Cut each piece to 2" chunks and add to a mixing bowl. Crush ginger and green chillies roughly and add to the chicken. Do not make a mushy paste just crush them roughly. Make a smooth paste of coriander leaves with little water and add to the chicken. Mix well and add turmeric powder and Goan Garam Masala powder along with salt and lime juice. Leave the chicken in marinade for atleast 4 hours.
Shaguti Masala - In a wide mouthed frying pan, heat a tsp. of oil and roast all the spices in masala except Poppy seeds. Add the ingredients one by one and toast lightly on low flame. Add the Poppy seeds toward the end and allow to cool. Grind this to a powder and keep aside. You could also make this in advance to save time.
Onion-Coconut-Garlic Paste - In the same pan used before, heat few spoons of oil and saute onions, coconut and garlic. Fry them well till they turn reddish brown. It takes around 15-20 minutes to get the right color of browning. Once done, turn off the flame and allow to cool completely. Once done, blend to a paste with little water. Save the water rinsed to add to the gravy at a later stage.
Assembly - In a large deep-bottomed wide mouthed vessel, heat few spoons of oil/ghee, add bay leaves and add the chicken with marinade side by side. Increase the heat and let the chicken brown on both the sides. The chicken will turn couple of shades darker, will be part cooked and turn opaque. Add the water from the rinsed marinade (about a cup of hot water), add additional water (1/2 cup of hot water). Cover with the lid on and let the chicken cook. This process takes about 30-40 minutes. Check if chicken is done, if done add the onion-coconut-garlic fried paste and the Shaguti Masala. Mix well, adjust salt and seasoning and bring to a medium boil and cook for 5-8 minutes. Once done, turn off flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. I served with cooked white rice.

Note - I made the Shaguti masala separately in my coffee grinder. If you wish, you could grind them together to a paste after separately frying. This recipe is spicy and hot, reduce the proportion if the need be. If you do not have Goan Garam Masala, use your own brand of Garam Masala.

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