Coriander Chutney Chicken (Lilli Chatni Anna Murghi Kari)
Lilli chatni, or coriander chutney, will most likely be found on every Gujarati family’s kitchen table at dinner time. I make it regularly and always keep a jar of it in the fridge. I love eating it with samosas, on bread, with cheese or whatever else is happy to sit underneath it while I carry it into my mouth. But when there’s some going spare, it also makes for a magnificent curry when combined with chicken.
Although you will need to make the chutney before cooking this curry, it takes very little effort: you just need to combine a few ingredients in a blender and blitz.
- For the Lilli Chatni (coriander chutney):
- 100g fresh coriander
- 60g peanuts, unsalted and unroasted
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 to 3 small fresh green chillies, roughly chopped (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
- For the Coriander Chutney Chicken:
- 5cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- ¾ fresh green chilli, roughly chopped (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 800g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2cm x 3cm pieces
- 6 tbsp coriander chutney
For the Lilli Chatni (coriander chutney):
To wash the coriander, fill a bowl full of cold water and put the coriander in it. Move the coriander around in the water, then take it out and shake off the excess water.
Roughly chop the stems and leaves and put them into a blender. Add the peanuts, lemon juice, salt, sugar, turmeric and 2 small chillies, and pulse them in the blender until the mixture has a smooth, almost pesto-like consistency. Add some water to help the mixture to blend if necessary. The result should be a smooth coriander chutney which is equally sweet, fiery and lemony. Add the remaining chilli, or more lemon juice, salt and sugar to balance it to your taste, then spoon it into your clean jar. For the Coriander Chutney Chicken:
Throw the ginger, garlic and green chilli into a pestle and mortar, along with a pinch of salt, and bash up to a course paste.
Put the oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and fry, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden. Transfer half of the onions to a bowl and put to one side.
Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste and cook for around 3 minutes. Put the chicken pieces into the pan, seal them on all sides and add the chutney. Stir the chutney, pop the lid on and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for around 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
In the meantime, transfer the onions from the bowl into a small frying pan and continue to cook them on a medium heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are dark brown, soft and sweet, then take them off the heat.
Add ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste) to the chicken little by little, until it tastes just right, then take it off the heat.
Scatter the caramelized onions over the top of the curry just before serving. Serve alongside some steaming hot basmati rice or a pile of hot, home-made chapattis