A Winter Storm calls for Spicy Jeera Chicken

Looking out from my window during the winter storm
Chicagoland winter storm

We're in the midst of another winter storm here in the Chicagoland area. I can barely see the home across the street from me. Of course, the media is more interested in where it is going to go: NYC and Boston rather than where it is at and what is occuring here. But then someone from Beantown once told me: Midwest? Oh! We only fly over that!

Spicy Jeera Chicken
Another Indian Food Rocks original recipe

1 tray thin sliced chicken
2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup plain yogurt
5-6 finger hot peppers
3 Thai green chillies
8-10 fresh mint leaves
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 inch by 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tbsp jeera or cumin seeds
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

1. Put garlic, ginger, hot peppers, lemon juice, mint leaves, yogurt and salt to taste in the blender and blend into a chutney. This is your marinade. Taste it and adjust the tang and salt to suit your taste. Be prepared for a jolt of heat when you do this. It is quite concentrated!! Do this before you proceed to the next step. You don't want to take a chance with E.coli!
2. Put the chicken in a shallow pan and pour this mixture over it. If you are using chicken breasts, take a steak knife and make random cuts in the meat so that the marinade can permeate into the meat as much as possible.
3. Allow the chicken to marinate for about half hour or so, preferably in the refrigerator. In the meanwhile, you could cook something else to go with this. Vegetable Pulao, maybe? Or just put your feet up and gain control of the TV remote!
4. Pour oil in a flat large saucepan, just enough to coat the bottom. Heat the oil and when warm (not smoking) sprinkle the jeera (cumin seeds) all over.
5. Gently put the chicken into the oil and pour the marinade over it. You could cover the pan as the chicken cooks. It's up to you. I like to have the flavors waft into every corner of my home!!
6. Sprinkle the chicken slices with freshly ground pepper so that they are nicely coated with it.
7. Turn the chicken over to the other side, do the fresh ground pepper thing and cook until almost done.
8. Then turn the heat up and dry up all the extra sauce. You need to keep turning the chicken over to ensure that it does not burn and to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the sauce dries up, keep pasting it onto the chicken using the turner. It splutters all over the stove but, believe me, the mess is worth it as the chicken is delicious!!
9. Once there is next to no sauce in the pan, drain the chicken of excess oil by placing it on paper towels, making sure to take as much of the dried out sauce as you can. Enjoy the tangy sauce draped all over the chicken and the zesty crunch of the jeera with every bite!!

Eat this hot with pitas or by itself or with pulao.

If you have young child at home who won't appreciate the spice as much you might, you can do what I did:
- while making the chutney/marinade, I used just one hot green pepper
- I set aside some marinade for my daughter's two chicken slices
- I added the remaining hot green peppers and used that for us
- I made her chicken in a separate pan
- I also did not use fresh ground black pepper on her chicken

A cold winter. Near blizzard like conditions outside. Yum spicy jeera chicken!!

Spicy Jeera Chicken Tenders


Indian Food Rocks said...

He! He! Sunny! Believe me, I've posted - the recipes just never made it to the blog. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I bloody came to Canada like 4 months ago, and had never entered a kitchen before ever!! I'm dying to eat some Indian food, if you can courier some ;)

Indian Food Rocks said...

LOL! Welcome to the winterland!! I am sure it's even colder where you are than Chicagoland. My recipes are based on ingredients you will find in most regular grocery stores, except for the spice mixes. The Spicy Jeera Chicken is really easy to make. Try it out and let me know if you like it!!

cedia said...

What do you guys call that tortilla looking bread that's like super yummy?

Indian Food Rocks said...

Hi cedia!! Welcome to IFR!! Tortilla like thing? Roti? Chapati? Phulka? They're all made from wheat flour. Chapatis tend to be a little thicker. Phulkas are almost translucent - they are that thin. Roti is more of a generic word for roasted unleavened breads.

Then you have parathas which are generally pan-fried with a little bit of oil/butter/shortening. These can be seasoned: with onions, spices, cheese or stuffed with potatoes, ground meat or Kheema...

I found a packet of frozen uncooked rotis at the Indian grocery store yesterday. The brand is Pillsbury. You have to roast them on a tava (open griddle) and then throw them directly on the flame to get them to fluff. It worked out to about 25 cents for one roti. I pay 20 cents a roti when I buy 100 cooked rotis. I thought this would be neat: no need to knead the dough or roll them out and no clean-up!! And yet you have fluffed up just made rotis for dinner!! I am going ot try them out tonight. Let's see how it goes!

Abhi said...

I liked the recipe of Jeera Chicken. But we do not get hot peppers here(Halifax), so I am going to try it with dried red chillies or Tabasco.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Hi Abhi! Great to see you here!! ;-)
No hot peppers in Halifax? No jalapenos either? I've started stocking up on Frozen Green Chillies from Swad. They are IQF (individually quick frozen) and therefore retain their flavor. They're a tad soggy when thawed but who's complaining when the flavor is intact, eh?!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Abhi, I forgot to mention that good ol' red chilli powder will also work.

Abhi said...

We do get chillies, but they are like cucumbers or should I say, capsicum, also the jalapenos. Once in a while, at a distant veggie boutique, we can find Thai peppers. But the place is far away and to travel just for peppers is not worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,
The spicy chicken looks soooo yummm!
I don't have too much experience cooking chicken and the few times I've cooked chicky fillets, they tend to become too tough within 1/2 hr of preparation, but don't encounter this when I cook meat with bone. Any suggestions for me?
Many thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

Hi Satya! Are you perhaps over-cooking the chicken? I used to do that when we first moved here and the chicken breasts would be really tough. With bone-in chicken, you know when it's cooked as it starts falling off the bones if you over-cook. Could that be the reason?

The other things I've found:
- if the chicken is frozen, it helps to thaw it completely before cooking it
- use double the suggested quanity of ginger (if it is an Indian recipe for use in India) and marinate it for at least 2-3 hours. The ginger here is juicier than the ginger in India but is less flavorful. If you can manage to marinate it over-night in the refrigerator, all the better. Ginger is a natural tenderizer so doubling the suggested quantity gets you the flavor and works towards tenderizing the meat.
- yogurt is also a great tenderizer. Marinating in yogurt also helps.

Lately, I've been buying the large chicken trays. I cook some for immediate use and marinate the rest and freeze it. The marinade works very well and the chicken is very very tender. I move it from the freezer to the refrigerator at least the night before I want to use it.

Look for chicken tenders in your local grocery store and work with these first. They cook quickly and will help you get used to cooking chicken.

Or if you have an organic food store near you (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc.), buy their free range chicken. It's got a wonderful flavor and it is very tender.

Let me know if any of these tips work for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,

Thanks much for your detailed response. I cooked some chicken fillet yesterday with a whole lot of ginger, like you had suggested, and that sure worked!
I live in Singapore, so no Trader Joe's or free-range chicken here :(
But, I do love Trader Joe's sooo..

Piegirl said...

Hi Manisha, I finally tried making your Spicy Jeera Chicken. I used skinless boneless chicken breasts, filleted them in half, and sized them to 1/4 chicken tenders. Turned out quite nice, tender when just cooked, but a little tough after a while. Could I have overcooked them? I noticed mine were more charred than the ones in your picture. Maybe I shouldn't fillet the breast so it's not too thin. How long should I wait before turning them the first time? You mentioned that you turn the chicken often to prevent burning, but is that right at the end when you up the heat to dry up the sauce? Speaking of sauce, there wasn't very much left of the marinade, maybe 1 tbsp.

My husband and I enjoyed the chicken with a modified version of thisvegetable pulao. I didn't have coconut and I used jasmine rice. I have never made nor eaten pulao before so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Is the rice supposed to be loose like briyani? My pulao was sticky. Maybe I used too much water.

Anonymous said...

Piegirl, sorry for the delay in replying to you. Would you believe me if I said I had a similar experience with chicken breasts last weekend? I had marinated them in yogurt and tikka masala for 36 hours. I expected them to be really tender and juicy. We barbecued them together at my neighbor's and for something that had been marinated that long, they were tough.

There were possibly three things that were wrong with my chicken that day: the heat source was too low and the chicken took longer to cook than the usual 20-30 minutes, the chicken charred towards the end because the inside took longer to cook on the low heat, and perhaps the chicken itself was not as tender.

I wonder if this could be what happened with your chicken. I'd say if you liked the taste, try it again with chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts. Or if you use chicken breasts again, make deep gashes in the meat to let the ginger and yogurt penetrate to the inside and tenderize the meat. Or you could fillet the chicken as you have suggested.

I turn the chicken over as soon as it looks like it's beginning to get cooked on the underside. With chicken tenders, this could be as soon as 3-4 minutes. With chicken breasts it's longer, more like 5-7 minutes. Make sure that you aren't doing this on low heat. It should be between medium to medium-high.

I use my own homemade yogurt which is not set as firm or custardy as store-bought yogurt. Try using some more yogurt for more sauce or add some water to the marinade. I always have sauce that I need to heat on high to get the dish to be dry.

For pulao, the rule of thumb is usually 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. Heat it on medium-high to high till the water starts boiling and then some. When you don't see any water (without disturbing the rice), then cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down and allow all the rice to cook. I have a very simple pulao recipe if you're interested.

I hope this helps!

Piegirl said...

Manisha, thanks for taking the time to share your feedback with me. I used medium heat when I last cooked the chicken. Next time, I'll try using more yogurt or ginger in the marinade. And will definitely try your pulao recipe, too.

J said...

Hi Manisha,
That picture haunted me for days and finally, I have a few pieces of chicken breast marinating in the fridge... Am going to make this to have with your pulao.

Karen E - A.K.A. Beth said...

The Spicy Jeera Chicken is amazing!! I served it with Indian Style Spicy Quinoa. Great meal!
Thanks for the great recipes!

GB said...

Manisha, this looks really good. I'm looking for some new recipes to try, bored with the usual stuff. :) Thanks for the inspiration. Hope you're well!

Ra said...

Thanks Manisham
making this for Shankari as I type..

Ra said...

Thanks Manisham
making this for Shankari as I type..

Piegirl said...

Manisha, I have been thinking about your spicy jeera chicken lately. I'm wondering if this would work to bake in the oven with the marinade instead of frying in a pan. I also am thinking of using frozen chicken tenders directly in the marinade and into the oven. What do you think?

Indian Food Rocks said...

Piegirl, wow! So great to hear from you! A warm blast from the past! How are you?!

To answer your question, I have always thawed marinated chicken before baking or broiling it. If you are trying to save time, how about marinating the tenders in the masala and freezing it for later use. Make sure you add some oil to the marinade. Thaw it in the refrigerator or on the counter and bake it. I wish I could give you better advice about baking frozen tenders.

You may want to try this Chicken Tikka Hara Bhara that I broil and can just as easily be baked. Although I must say that high heat works best on kebabs of this kind.

Piegirl said...

Thank you so much for your response and tips, Manisha. It's good to hear advice from someone more experienced than me when it comes to cooking meat, especially with frozen meat. I wasn't sure if I wanted to thaw my chicken tenders before marinating even though I think that's probably the best way to do it, and definitely in the refrigerator. What you suggested about marinating then freezing is another good idea I never thought of!

That Chicken Tikka Hara Bhara recipe looks good, too! Will have to try it some time.