Monday, 16 July 2012

Afghani Chicken Fantasy

Afghani Chicken Fantasy

When we were staying at the Divistha Guest House just outside of Delhi, we ordered Afghani Chicken from the hotel’s menu.  The owner, Mr. O.P. Rathi, told us that actually some of the meals were catered, including this dish.  As a result, where this incredible chicken came from, we don’t know.  I will say that it’s possibly the best that our family has ever tasted.  Was it because we were a little chicken deprived after being in strictly vegetarian establishments, and once we got to the Divista we turned into crazy carnivores?  Or was it the creamy sauce spiced to perfection?

Since coming home, I’ve been trying over and over again to re-create that fantastic meal, and either I’ve come closer to it this time, or my taste buds are forgetting what we’d eaten in that wonderful establishment.

I suppose I should say that this recipe is more of a fantasy of a memory of Afghani Chicken.  Whatever, it tastes fantastically good!

The Marinade

3 x 1” fresh ginger, roughly chopped
3 chillies roughly chopped
4 fresh garlic cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
juice from 2 limes
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Punjabi shakar (raw cane sugar)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

20 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (you could use less and your sauce will go further!)

my marinating device
The Masala
½ teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon fennel
1 black cardamom, husked
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

The Sauce

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon dark mustard seed
1 teaspoon more cumin seed
1 red onion, finely diced
2/3 cup plain yogurt
Cilantro for garnish

Begin with the marinade.  Liquefy the first set of ingredients in a blender.  The chicken thighs I used were fairly small, and I had to open them up as they come folded in their package.  Rub the paste into the chicken pieces, tightly cover and set aside to marinate.  I used my marinating contraption which removes the air to create a vacuum.  Using this device, I marinated for a couple of hours, but otherwise I’d suggest 24 hours in the fridge. 

About an hour before cooking the chicken, prepare the masala by putting the spices into a grinder and whizzing to a powder.  Set aside.  In a large saucepan, pour the oil and put the heat at medium high.  When the oil seems hot, add a few mustard seeds.  When they sizzle and splutter, add them all, then the cumin seeds quickly.  Add the diced onion, stirring and turning the heat down to medium.  Cook the onion till it’s soft and a bit golden.  Add the ground masala spices and cook a few more minutes.  Cover, turn off the heat, and set aside.

If you don’t have a barbecue, you can use the broiler in your oven.  One way or another, you want to grill that chicken.  As you remove it from the marinating container, remember that you will use the remaining marinating sauce soon.  Use medium hot heat, watch carefully, and cook for about ten minutes on either side.  When they are done, put on a platter, and tent with aluminum foil. 

Meanwhile, put the heat back on at medium under that onion and spice mixture that was set aside earlier.  Add the remaining marinating sauce , stirring, then a little of the plain yogurt.  Stir gently and as it heats, add more and more of the yogurt.  Cook this sauce for at least ten minutes.

At this point you have two options.  You can be lazy like me, and just pour that sauce over the chicken, or you can chop the chicken into smaller pieces, and add it to the sauce.  Either way will work fine, especially if you serve this delicious chicken with some rice and a little fresh cilantro. 

Now that I haven’t tasted the real Afghani Chicken dish at the Divista Guest House for at least eight months, I realize that my recipe could be based on mere fantasy.  Sigh… Oh well…

In the meantime, this version will have to do!  Thanks again to Mr. Rathi for being such a gracious host and serving us such fabulous food!  

The market near the guest house--strictly veg!


  1. Awesome recipe Mary and your marinating device looks cool :)
    ~Recent Recipe~
    Sambar Without Sambar Powder
    -You Too Can Cook Indian Food Recipes

  2. This sounds intriguing.....I will have to try it! Since I don't have your nifty marinating device, I'll resort to a large ziploc bag. ;)

  3. Hello Ms Mary,

    Good to know you still remember the taste of the "Afghani Chicken" you had at our Guest House. Had a great time to be your host. Would be glad to meet you on your next visit to India !

    Excellent recipe and effort by you for the "Afghani Chicken".

    O P Rathi
    Divistha Guest House
    723, Sector - 14, Gurgaon, Haryana, India

    1. Next time we're in Delhi, we're certain to stay with you. Thanks for checking out the blog and for your wonderful hospitality!