This historic dish is a prime example of how a handful of the right spices, introduced by traders along the spice route, create a perfect balance of hot and sweet. Add good quality poultry, canola oil, a few onions and pieces of ginger and you have a meal fit for a king. If you can find injera bread – spongy, crepe-like, sourdough bread from an Ethiopian restaurant or store – you will witness a heavenly marriage on your very own plate.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from green or white pods) 2 mL
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns 2 mL
- 3 to 5 dried red cayenne chiles (like chile de arbol), stems removed
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 3-inches/7.5-cm long)
- 2 small yellow onions, one coarsely chopped and other finely chopped
- 2 pieces fresh ginger (each about size and thickness of 25-cent coin)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup canola oil 60 mL
- 1 cup tomato sauce 250 mL
- 3 lbs (1.5 kg) cut-up bone-in chicken, skin removed (see Cook’s Tips)
- 1 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt 5 mL
- In small bowl, combine cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, chiles and cinnamon. Preheat large skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan feels hot, add to spice blend pan. Toast spices, stirring them constantly as they bloom with nutty aroma and turn just a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Quickly remove spices from pan and transfer to plate to cool, about 5 minutes. Once cooled, transfer spices to grinder, like coffee grinder, and grind to consistency of finely ground black pepper.
- In food processor, place coarsely chopped onion, ginger, garlic and ground spices. Mince ingredients to consistency of slightly coarse paste.
- In same skillet, pour canola oil and heat over medium temperature. Once oil appears to shimmer, add finely chopped onion and stir-fry until it turns light brown around edges, about 5 minutes.
- Add paste to skillet and cook, stirring ingredients occasionally, uncovered, until moisture in paste evaporates and canola oil starts to separate from mix, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add chicken pieces and allow them to absorb flavors from other ingredients, turning occasionally, uncovered, until some pieces turn lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
- Pour in tomato sauce, sprinkle in salt and stir well.
- Lower heat to medium-low and cook chicken, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat in thickest parts is no longer pink inside and juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serve chicken warm with aromatic sauce alongside a plate of rice, couscous or in the traditional way with slices of hard-boiled eggs.
Yield: 8 servings. Serving Size: 1 chicken piece and 1/3 cup (75 mL) sauce.
Cook’s Tip: Cut-up, bone-in chicken can be found in every grocery store’s meat department. These skin-on pieces are easy to work with compared to the messy process of skinning a whole chicken and cutting it into smaller pieces. To skin, hold chicken piece in one hand and with a paper towel in the other hand, pull off skin, using towel to help you grip skin. Sometimes partially freezing chicken also makes skinning easier. While pre-cut pieces make for less work, they are typically more expensive than a whole chicken.