This young chef from Chennai makes a black chicken curry
When Aaron Coutinho, the Head Chef at Desi di was on one of his rounds at the local markets, scrounging for fresh and seasonal produce, little did he know that he would spot a rare chicken — the Kadaknath, at the Pallavaram Friday Market, one of the oldest in Chennai. An ancient Indian breed native to Madhya Pradesh, this is India’s only indigenous ‘Black Chicken’ species and one of the only three in the world. “Astonishingly, the bird is completely black,” says Aaron. “Not only its plumage but also its skin and meat. It is considered to be a delicacy with a distinct taste, rich in protein and low in cholesterol with several medicinal properties.” Aaron is now in the process of rearing them free-range at their own property in Desi di, in Ayanavaram. The chef realised that since it is a rare delicacy it was very important to understand the ingredient and the suitable cooking method and technique to bring that out. “We encouraged our kitchen team to contribute by experimenting with their ideas and recipes. We kept it simple, restricting it to very few ingredients to emphasise the main ingredient. More than the recipe it is the lengthy process of simmering it in our mild black pepper gravy for over 2-3 hours that elevates the dish.” The delicious Kadaknath curry is more like a semi-gravy, where pieces can be enjoyed whole and the flavourful gravy can be soaked up with some pav. So what can people expect on taking their first bite? “While the meat is really flavourful with an intense chicken flavour, the surprise element is its texture. It is pleasantly tough, but after the second bite one gets used to it. It is the ‘Original’ taste of chicken and how chicken was supposed to taste like before we domesticated it.”
Desi di Kadaknath Pepper Chicken
Kadaknath chicken (cut into 8)
For the marinade
3 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste | 4 tbsp Curd | ¼ tsp Turmeric powder | Salt to taste
For the gravy:
½ cup Oil | 2 inch Cinnamon | 5-6 no. Cardamom | 3-4 no. Cloves | 2 no. Bay leaf | 1 tbsp Fennel seeds | ½ tbsp Cumin seeds | 4 cups Onion Sliced | ½ cup Ginger-garlic paste | 2 cups Tomatoes sliced | 6-8 no. Green chilly slit |
½ tsp Turmeric powder | 2tbsp Roasted Coriander powder | 1 tbsp Roasted Cumin powder | 1 tbsp Crushed roasted Black pepper | ¼ cup Coriander leaves chopped
Marinate chicken and keep overnight.
Fry the whole spices in oil. Sauté onion till golden brown, then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook briefly.
Add in the tomatoes and slit green chillies and cook well, then add in the coriander, turmeric and cumin powder and cook briefly.
Add in the marinated Kadaknath chicken and bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 2-3 hrs on low heat stirring occasionally and adding adequate water periodically.
Add in the crushed black pepper towards the end and finish with chopped coriander leaves.
• The chicken breasts cook before the legs, so add the breast pieces 45mins after the legs so that they both cook together.