While Afghan food bears some Indian influence, as seen, for example in the use of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and cumin, it doesn’t share chilli-heat with the subcontinent. So this is a mild dish, made rich by the liberal use of yoghurt. If you’d rather not butcher your own chook, just buy the equivalent weight of on-the-bone pieces.
- 500 ml (2 cups) Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 x 1.5 kg chicken
- plain flour, for dusting
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 8 cardamom pods, bruised
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 185 ml (¾ cup) chicken stock
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- steamed basmati rice and lemon wedges, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring the yoghurt to room temperature while you prepare the chicken. Place the chicken on a board, breast-side up. Using a large, sharp knife, remove the legs by cutting through the thigh joint, then cut through the leg joint to separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Cut through each side of the back bone and discard backbone or reserve it for making stock. Place the chicken, skin-side down, on the board then cut through the breast bone to give two whole breasts, with wings attached. Cut each breast in half on a slight diagonal through the bone, about two thirds of the way up the breast.
Dust each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat half the oil in a large heavy-based casserole pan over medium. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook, turning often, for about 10 minutes or until golden all over. Carefully pour off any excess oil and remove the casserole pan from the heat.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, for 6-7 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for another 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then pour the mixture over the chicken in the casserole pan. Return the casserole pan to medium-low heat and bring the liquid back to a simmer; the chicken will not be in any way covered by liquid but it will produce extra liquid as it cooks. Cover the casserole, then cook the chicken for about 30 minutes, turning once, or until cooked through. Remove from the heat.
Combine about half the hot cooking liquid with the yoghurt in a bowl and stir to combine well. Pour into the casserole and stir to combine with the liquid in the casserole. Heat briefly and gently, taking care not to let the yoghurt mixture get too hot or it will curdle. Serve immediately scattered with coriander, with steamed rice and lemon wedges.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.
When she doesn’t have her head in the pantry cupboard, Leanne Kitchen finds time to photograph food and write cookbooks. You can view her work on her website.