Do you know what I love the most about Indian food? The variety. It’s kind of like going to a Chinese restaurant, but with Indian food. Back at the beginning of June my family and I went to a local Indian restaurant to celebrate the end of the school year. We all decided to order something different, and my husband decided on the spicy Indian chicken xacuti (sha-koo-tee). It was spectacular! The blend of spices was complex, so needless to say I made it my mission to replicate those mouthwatering flavors.
The fabulous flavors of Indian cuisine are based on masalas or spice mixtures. Depending on the region of India, the masalas are going to be different. For example, curry is a masala.
Spicy Indian chicken xacuti comes from Goa, a town in the southwestern coast of India, known for its elaborate dishes. You will find that this spicy Indian chicken xacuti has quite a long list of ingredients, but they are all fairly easy to find either online, or at a well-stocked grocery store.
The cuisine of Goa is heavily influenced by the Portuguese who ruled this part of India for about 450 years. Go figure! During this time, the Portuguese dominated the spice trade, and this is one of the reasons why Goan dishes tend to feature lots of spices.
So, let’s look at some of the spices in Spicy Indian chicken xacuti: cardamom pods, star anise, and cinnamon. I place these ingredients in a cheesecloth, tie it up, and throw it into the braising pan along with all the other ingredients. You can think of this as the Indian version of a French bouquet garni. I am not sure if my method is very traditional, but I hate fishing stuff out of stews. Don’t you?
So how did my spicy Indian chicken xacuti measure up to the restaurant’s version? Well, my husband who has a keen palate said that it was “pretty darn close.” That’s good enough for me! We ate it with basmati rice, and naan bread.
Do you like Indian food? What is your favorite dish? Have you ever made your own curry? How about garam masala? Let me know. I want to hear from you!
Spicy Indian Chicken Xacuti
A rich and complex chicken stew from Goa, in southwestern India. Made with coconut milk and a wide range of aromatic spices.
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 3 Tbsp tamarind juice
- 1 roma tomato cored and sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, cored and sliced
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 pods cardamom
- 1 pod star anise
Make spice mixture:
In a small bowl place the spices and mix thoroughly.
First, crush the cardamom pods. Next, cut a rectangular piece of cheesecloth about 12"x 6". Place the star anise, cinnamon stick, and the crushed pods. Fold over a couple of times, and tie on the ends with kitchen twine.
Prepare Chicken Xacuti
Cut chicken breast into 1" pieces, and place in a glass dish. Sprinkle with cornstarch, then add in the spice mixture, and toss to evenly cover. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Next, on medium heat, heat oil in a braising pan and add chicken. Cook, for about 5 minutes, turning frequently. Next add the onion and the garlic, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Pour in the water, and allow it to come to a boil, then add the tamarind juice and the coconut milk.
Toss in the tomatoes and the jalapeno pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Serve with naan bread and basmati rice.