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My first attempt at Konkan cuisine after a really long Wednesday turned out to be quite fun! Considered as one of the richest cuisines in India, according to me the food of this part of India doesn’t only taste differently brilliant but also speaks about the idiosyncratic Konkan diaspora, a conglomerate of uniquely indulgent cultures with whimsical and playful histories. The food owes to a lot of other cultures around the world, while the Greeks gave them saffron and fenugreek, Arabs introduced coffee and dry fruits along the coast. But the Portuguese left their greatest legacy with the introduction of tuber, red chillies, vinegar, tomato, papaya, corn, capsicum and sweet potatoes.

I planned to end a really long Wednesday with Chicken xacuti and sticky rice, with a bunch of friends for some good company. Though I fell little short of my expectations, but I am glad that it left other happy and thus it was a successful attempt.

Chicken Xacuti can be eaten with rice or parathas. And yes, it tastes better the next day so tomorrow’s lunch is sorted for me! If you are a vegan you can use potatoes instead of chicken.

Recipe (6 servings)
Ingredients:
1 kg skinned chicken pieces (with bones)

5tbsp vegetable oil

a couple of bay leaves

One large sized red onion (finely chopped)

Salt (according to your taste preference)

Spice Paste:

2tbsp Vegetable oil

1″ cinnamon stick

5 cloves

5 peppercorns

2 tsp cumin seeds

5-6 dried Kashmiri chillies (seeds removed)

1tsp coriander seeds

1 medium sized white onion finely chopped

3″ fresh ginger root (roughly chopped)

4 green chillies

8-10 cloved garlic (finely chopped)

You can add a little bit of tomato if you wish (chopped)

Coconut paste:

2tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup cashew nuts (unsalted)

3tsp Poppy seeds

1/2 cup freshly grated unsweetened coconut

Method:
Wash the meat and set aside to drain.

Put the oil for spice paste in a small, dry skillet and heat on medium heat. Sauté the whole spices and onion for about 3 minutes, till golden brown and fragrant. Cool and grind coarsely and add a little water.

Add green chillies, ginger and garlic and grind again to a fine consistency, reserve.

Put the oil for the coconut paste in the same skillet on medium heat. When hot, toast the cashew-nuts, poppy seeds and coconut, till golden brown and fragrant. Cool and grind to a fine consistency, adding little water. Reserve.

Heat 5tbsp of oil a large flat bottomed pan, add bay leaves and sauté for about 20 seconds, add onion and sauté for 2 minutes, till its loses some opacity.

Stir in the spice paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously till the paste thickens and releases oil.

Increase the flame, add the chicken and sear it in the spices for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add a cup of water, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir the coconut paste and add a little water if required. Cook uncovered for on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add salt and cool. Refrigerate overnight.

Reheat the curry next day on low heat while stirring constantly. Serve hot with sticky rice or flatbreads.

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