Desi style chicken & winning a cookbook by master chef New Zealand winner

Nadia & me

I  visited Taste of Mumbai yesterday, an international event which takes place in other parts of the world and for the first time it is happening in Mumbai. The spread of international or fusion food is something to experience. I had some sushi and some Spanish nibbles, which were really good. However, I did miss the real Mumbai taste of pav bhajji or keema pav or maybe even desi chicken. Kalyan of finely chopped also had similar thoughts.

The highlight for me at the event was meeting and winning (through a twitter contest organized by taste of Mumbai & HTCafe) Nadia  Lim’s (winner of master chef New Zealand, second series) cookbook, Nadia’s Kitchen. The book not only focuses on eating healthy but also seasonal eating and the recipes in the book has been beautifully showcased.

If you have read my earlier post about free range chicken and how/why I like my chicken free range. The free range chicken works really well for Indian style curry. Try this recipe once to taste the difference between a broiler and a free range. You can also watch my recipe video shared at the end of this post 🙂

desi chicken


400g of chicken marinated overnight in curd, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder

1 tbs oil

4-5 curry leaves

½ tsp of mustard seeds

1 tsp kachampuli/tamarind/kokum

Salt to taste
fresh coriander leaves & grated coconut for garnish
 for masala/gravy
1 tsp of oil
1 tbsp of mixed spices – cumin, pepper and cloves
20g coriander seeds
1–2 inch piece of ginger, cut roughly
4-5 garlic cloves
1 medium sized onion cut roughly
1 medium sized tomato cut roughly
100g of grated coconut
1 inch cinnamon stick/ cinnamon powder
4-5 dried red chillies


  • Add 1 tsp of oil. Add 1 tbsp of mixed spices – cumin, pepper, cloves, coriander seeds and dried chillies.Roast the spices.
  • Add the onions. Toss them around until translucent. Add ginger,  garlic and tomatoes. Do not overcook the ingredients.
  • Add the grated coconut. Toss the ingredients around and add cinnamon powder. Turn off the gas and allow the mixture to cool for 15-20 mins.
  • Blend the mixture into a fine paste.
  • Add oil into a pan. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  • Add the prepared masala and some water to to lighten the gravy.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer on a medium flame for 20-25 mins.
  • When you see a layer of oil on top of the masala, it means that the masala is ready.
  • Add the chicken,  salt and mix well.
  • Let the chicken cook on a medium flame for 20-25 mins with the lid on.
  • When chicken is cooked, add 1 tsp of kachampuli/ tamaring pulp/ kokam or any other souring agent
  • Cook for another 2-3 mins and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or chapatti. Serves 4.

I like my chicken free range…..

Free range chicken (nati koli or gauti) are allowed to roam freely and are not coped up in a cage like factory-style farming. Many free-range chickens are allowed to roam free to eat bugs, seeds, berries and other natural vegetation. The chickens may come home to roost in a coop at night, or they may be essentially wild and roost in trees or any place they feel is safe. They are fed natural food in an natural habitat. This leads to a much leaner chicken, fat free and free from any injected chemicals.

The advantages of free range is that it has  less fat, is juicy, thin and has translucent skin, taste and firm flesh but not tough. However, the cost of a free range chicken will be much more than a broiler. Free range chicken is difficult to find in our Indian supermarkets but the eggs are now available in many stores. You can check with you’re local chicken shop. I did a post/recipe on free range eggs recently and here it is.

Spot the difference: free range (left) & broiler (right)

Organic chickens are not only free to roam but are also fed grains which are organic. They are also certified as organic. They cost much more than the free range or the broiler  and I haven’t come across anyone in India producing enough to  supply to large scale supermarkets.

Benefits of free range or organic vs broiler:

  • One serving of organic, free-range chicken provides you with more protein than a serving of conventional chicken.
  • Organic, free-range chicken provides healthier levels of saturated fat and the most beneficial levels of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Purchasing organic chicken ensures that you and your family are not ingesting unnecessary antibiotics that may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.

Read more on  benefits of free range chicken

How to cook a free range chicken:
  • Free range has lean meat and it means that the slower cooking yields better results.
  • It is advisable to cook the chicken  at a temperature of  165 degrees. I would suggest to use a meat thermometer to check if you’re free range is under cooked or over cooked.
  • Marinating the chicken (or chicken breasts in particular) with beer for several hours helps to tenderize for grilling or barbecuing.
  • Also remember that a perfect cooked chicken has a lot to do with it’s size, pieces followed by internal temperature until you’re comfortable with the time required to cook the chicken – it is often more than the regular chicken recipes.

Personally I prefer free range to broiler because of the taste. A nati koli saaru (chicken curry available in South) won’t be the same when cooked with a broiler. I discovered that free-range, REALLY DO have superior meat – they aren’t just the same product with a different price – they are VERY different meats! I’ve noticed that people who have been brought up on or have been exposed to rural India are aware of the taste and cooking techniques a lot more than the ones who have been only brought up on broilers. Eating free range eggs or chicken is more of a conscience and is left to you to compare notes.