Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
One of my favorite Indian recipes is an adaption I created of traditional Punjabi chicken. My adaptation is delightfully different than the standard Indian recipe with its curry flavor; it instead relies on a heady and aromatic combination of cardamon, cinnamon, cayenne, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and lemon to make a tart, vibrant, and zesty plate. It’s beautiful to look at too—brilliantly scarlet red, moderated slightly into the colors of the sunset, a creamy and delicious sauce that spills with trickles of fire into rice underneath it. The link to this recipe appears at the end of this article.
Since I'm always looking for ways to create new recipes, I recently developed a variation of this recipe with blackberries. Blackberries seemed like an excellent modification of the tomato theme, producing a sweet, fruity, and yet tart iteration of the traditional Punjabi chicken.
And indeed, the first time I made it, it turned out beautifully. There was only one problem: blackberries are often horrifically ugly when they are used with other ingredients, and combined with the spices produced a deeply unappetizing sort of brownish color for the food. Also, using blackberry jam with seeds in it tends to make for a less smooth and creamy experience.
It’s perfectly possible to make this version of the recipe, i.e., with seeds and without food coloring, which is more natural and authentic, but this version of the recipe strains the blackberry jam to remove the seeds, and also adds in some red food coloring, which manages to restore the original élan of the recipe somewhat—although blackberries are still a very strong color. I think it makes for a much more appetizing and pretty meal than it in its raw form.
- 3 pounds chicken
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon cardamon
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup blackberry jam, strained if it contains seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 lemon
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- Chopped spinach, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Add in the peeled and diced onions. Sautee until starting to turn golden, then add in the garlic, some salt, and ginger. Stir. Add in the cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
- Reduce heat and cook for several minutes at a simmer; then add the chicken and turmeric. Sautee the chicken until it is browned. Deglaze with the white wine.
- Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the chili powder.
- Combine the blackberry jam, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Pass the mixture through a sieve if it has seeds. Add it to the chicken, and bring it to a boil. Stir briefly, then add in the heavy cream and stir again. Cook a few more minutes.
- Serve with rice and if possible bread. Garnish with spinach and cilantro, if desired.
Zesty Punjabi Chicken Recipe
- Zesty Punjabi Chicken Recipe
The sweet and complex flavor of this recipe incorporates cardamom, pungent onions, zesty vinegar, and wonderfully tender chicken, all mellowed by cream.