“A quick and easy-to-make chicken xacuti recipe for the soul”
My memories of a lovely wholesome xacuti goes back to the time when we were kids…
I recall two instances which are still so fresh in my mind and I’m glad I can catalog them today while I write this blog post. So when I’m greying, I can always come back and read this post and be nostalgic about those days.
- When we were little, the chapel opposite my parents house in Goa, twice every year had the entire ward come together and celebrate. First being the 3 evenings before Ash Wednesday i.e. The chapel Feast Sunday and the following Monday and Tuesday… the Second being 26th December which was the ward Christmas celebration.. So why did I mention chicken xacuti? If we had a tiatr (folk play) night or kids performing carols or youth playing games, whatever the occasion out of these 4 evenings every year, atleast one of it,if not two had many aunties (mums of our village friends) come together post lunch and cook in bulk for all of us… who paid for it? All the uncles with their donations^… The menu was always set: peas pulao, chicken xacuti, plain shredded fresh salad but without any salad leaves (so more like shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced onions and tomatoes-all this seasoned well with some salt, pepper and lime juice) and some spicy mango pickle. This was always accompanied with a chilled glass bottle of some common fizzy drink with a plastic straw which was so thin that we always as kids struggled to get the drink out of the bottle..
- My second memory of chicken xacuti was what my mum used to make… rarely as a Sunday feast but mostly for our birthdays when the whole extended family came over for dinner.. Mama always took trouble to ghee roast on a semi-medium flame the whole spices which definitely had to have poppy seeds in it, finely sliced onions and freshly grated coconut as some of the key ingredients to make her perfect chicken xacuti… it always had some curry leaves, and later garnished with fresh coriander leaves. This was always served with her famous Garlic pulao . Oh!! How much I miss that time.. wish it never ended— oh not like she doesn’t make both those dishes now but that time was just so surreal and I wasn’t so many miles away…
Xacuti is one of the most famous curries in Goa…it can be made with chicken, mutton, boiled and coal roasted jackfruit seeds with dried prawns, mushrooms-cashew nuts, etc. just to name a few. It’s a dish which you need not refrigerate but definitely needs reheating adequately specially during Indian summers so that this spicy coconut based curry doesn’t turn off.
Xacuti has a well-balanced flavour. This dish does not just begin and end with a mixture of ground spices: fresh spices like a small piece of ginger, some garlic and fresh green chillies, and whole spices, typically poppy seeds, red Kashmiri chillies, star anise, and a small piece of mace, are often vital.
In recent times, commercial curry powders, sauces and pastes have tremendously improved and they are particularly associated with a certain Indian region or style of cooking. A variety of brands and carefully blended spices are now available and they need not cater to a very authentic taste. This recipe is quicker and easier to make with the use of this type of packaged masala.
There are different techniques in place to cook various dishes and here to make this curry it would be the need to carefully roast the whole spices without letting them burn… however, this recipe doesn’t call for it as I’ve used a prepackaged masala.
Tip #1: When roasting spices for any dish, take care not to over cook them or allow them to burn as this will make them bitter.
The poultry should be adequately marinated, as marinating allows the spices to penetrate well before cooking… give it atleast an hour to marinate well
So, for this marinate I’ve used:
- 1 small baby chicken- cut into medium pieces, skin removed and washed
- 1 pkt Xacuti masala (this will be available at any Indian or Goan store across the world) – approximately 50gms, this powder I used was a mixture of coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder and a 5% mixture of other whole spices…
- Salt to taste
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp Garlic-Ginger paste
- 3 fine green chillies- break roughly and add to the marinate (optional)
Tip #2: Long gentle cooking allows time for the spices in any curry to mingle and for the flavour of the dish to mature.
Let’s get to cooking this amazing xacuti…
I would suggest to keep all the mis-en-place ready in advance. It includes 1 large finely sliced onion, 1 medium tomato diced and two large potatoes cut into big cubes. I generally like to keep the potatoes quite big as we love potatoes and would like it in any curry or food, specially my husband.
Heat 1tbsp ghee in a pan and when heated thoroughly add the onions and fry until caramelised.
Tip #3: To caramelise onions quickly add a pinch of salt… this accelerates the process..also use a medium flame as you don’t want the onions to burn.
Transfer these onion to the pot in which you’ll cook the curry.
Add tomatoes and mix well until the tomatoes get mushy…
You want it to look like this…
To this add the chicken and mix well…Later add the potatoes and a little water… and a pinch of salt to taste…let it come to a boil…
Later add 5tbsp of coconut powder or one tin of coconut milk, however if your using coconut milk then reduce the amount of water used before as you don’t want your curry to be too liquidy…
Add a maggi cube and stir well..
Cook on a medium flame until the chicken and potatoes are cooked well and the curry has thickened…
Serve with some nice hot rice and maybe even some pickle or papad to relish on the side…
Or it’s an amazing curry to be served at any party… Party cooking can sometimes be too tedious so this quick and easy xacuti recipe can definitely come to the rescue..