Chicken with fried onions and lemon


Back to India. Another Delhi recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s first book. Like many of the dishes in ‘An Invitation,’ you start by stirring and frying onions in butter until they reduce and crisp into little brown rings (what Julie Sahnee calls “brown-frying”). In Jaffrey’s universe this takes 5 minutes or so, but in the real world, it takes about 30 minutes, so leave time. Also like many of the dishes in the book, you remove the crispy, browned onion rings from the shortening (I used ghee), and then cook the rest of the dish in the onion-flavored oil – first by searing the chicken, and then sauteeing the classic onion-garlic-ginger paste followed by spices, yogurt and tomato.

This is a totally delicious dish, and the combination of lemon slices, chicken, sugar and the long, thick, slow-simmered sauce is deeply satisfying. Indian cooks assume that you will be cooking bone-in chicken for its depth of flavor. I used a combination of bone-in and boneless thighs. I removed the bones from the thigh meat, but browned them and put them in the sauce along with everything else.

Served with basmati rice, tomato chutney, lime pickle, yogurt and the dish below.


I improvised a side dish of mixed zucchini and butternut squash. Going by memory of a Bengali okra dish, I heated oil in the khadai, added nigella seed, cinnamon stick and a red chili, followed by the chopped squashes. Once they had cooked to al dente, I added salt, stirred a few more times, and drained the vegetables, reserving the oil. I put the oil back in the pan, added a chopped green chili, black mustard seed, turmeric and cayenne powder, fried for about 30 seconds, added some water, reduced, and poured this dressing over the vegetables. It was delicious – I recommend.

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