Calcutta Sweet-And-Sour Chicken In Onion Sauce
Jewish Food: The World at Table by Matthew Goodman
Aromatic, glossy, its flavors in perfect balance, chitamee is one of the jewels of Calcutta Jewish cuisine. This recipe comes from Rahel Musleah of Great Neck, New York, whose family emigrated to the United States when she was six. Hers was a distinguished Calcutta family: Her father, Rabbi Ezekiel Musleah, was the author of the highly regarded history On the Banks of the Ganga, while her cousin. Mavis Hyman, wrote the books Indian-Jewish Cooking and Jews of the Raj. Ms. Musleah is herself an author and educator who lectures widely on Indian Jewry.
• 1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces; or 4 split breasts, totaling about 3 pounds
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 pounds onions, sliced
• 2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
• 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
• 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
• 3 cardamom pods
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
• 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat them dry. Season them with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.
3. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, turmeric, and chili powder and cook for 5 minutes. Add enough water just to cover the onions. Cover the pan and continue cooking until the water is almost gone but the mixture remains loose, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and another 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces to a large serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
5. Raise the heat slightly and cook the sauce, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed and the sauce becomes thick and shiny, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar and cook for another minute. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Remove the cardamom pods. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve hot.