This is a Parsi recipe known as jardaloo murgh or apricot chicken and would go great with Malbec wine from Argentina, especially the Malbec made by Laura Catena.The Parsis or Zoroastrians, are one of the smallest groups in India but are prominent business leaders and gracious hosts,and an invitation to a Parsi dinner party is eagerly anticipated. One dish guests hope to be served is chicken jardaloo. I learned this recipe for chicken cooked in sweet and tangy tomato sauce with dried apricots from Kitty Bombaywallah when I dined with her family in Mumbai. Cooking with dried fruits dates back to the Parsi's Persian ancestry and they brought this tradition with them when they migrated to Gujarat over a thousand years ago. The apricots absorb the flavors of the sauce and plump up to succulent softness while the chicken cooks to tender juiciness. Parsi's enjoy wine with meals and often add a splash to their curries and gravies adding body and flavor. Chicken jardaloo is one of my favorite dishes to serve friends as they love the exotic flavor it exudes and I love the simplicity of cooking it. Serve with rice or crispy fried potato wedges.
3 to 3 1/2 pounds of skinless, bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks (about 8-10 pieces depending on the size)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt crystals
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon garam masala (warming spice blend), store-bought
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
The Apricot-Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound), peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
4 large or 8 small garlic cloves, smashed, skins removed and minced
2 teaspoons peeled and grated gingerroot
1 pound tomatoes (2 large or about 4-5 plump plum tomatoes, chopped (or one 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup dried apricots (about 7 ounces) soaked in 1 cup of hot water 15 minutes and drained
PREPARING THE CHICKEN. Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Make several deep diagonal slashes to the bone on the thickest part of the thighs or drumsticks. Place in a large non-reactive mixing bowl and sprinkle with cayenne, garam masala, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, toss until well coated in the seasonings on both sides. Marinate about 30 minutes at room temperature.
COOKING THE CHICKEN. Heat the oil in a large wide nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently with a slotted spoon until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until the flesh changes from glossy pink to yellowish tinted milky-white, and firms, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring and turning once or twice. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring and scraping up from the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes (or canned tomatoes) and about 1/4 cup of hot water, and cook, stirring occasionally 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered about 10 minutes, checking a few times to stir and add a little hot water if necessary. Stir in the sugar, vinegar and apricots; increase the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered until the sauce is thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. When the thickest part of a thigh is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife the juices should run clear. If the juices are pinkish, cook a few more minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and dinner is ready.