Makes 4 servings
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 40 to 45 minutes
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into serving portions
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
2-inch stick cinnamon
3 bay leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds
2 1/2 tablespoons golden raisins
Put the yogurt into a bowl. Beat it lightly until it is smooth and creamy. Add the cilantro, ground cumin, ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the cayenne, and some black pepper. Mix and set aside.
Using the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, season the chicken pieces on both sides and sprinkle on some freshly ground black pepper.
Put the oil in a wide, preferably nonstick pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Stir once and put in some of the chicken pieces, only as many as the pan will hold easily in a single layer. Brown on both sides and remove to a large bowl. Brown all the chicken pieces this way and transfer them to the bowl.
Put the almonds and raisins into the same hot oil. Stir quickly. The almonds should turn golden and the raisins should plump up – which will happen very fast. Now put the chicken and its accumulated juices back into the pan. Add the seasoned yogurt. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during this time. Remove the cover, turn the heat up a bit, and reduce the sauce until it is thick and just clings to the chicken pieces. Turn the chicken pieces over gently as you do this.
Note: The large, whole spices – cardamom pods, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves – are not meant to be eaten.