Badam ni Marghi (Chicken in Rich Almond Gravy)
by Farokh Talati
Excerpted from Parsi: From Persia to Bombay: recipes & tales from the ancient culture. Used with the permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury. Copyright © 2022 by Farokh Talati
I have seen different versions of this dish in many old Parsi cookbooks. It’s sometimes referred to as chicken with 100 almonds. There is something very quaint about the idea that a dish must be made with 100 of something – where 99 just won’t do and 101 will tip the balance. To save you counting, though, I’ve given the quantity of almonds by ground weight, (you can buy them whole and grind them yourself in a spice grinder if you prefer).
- 1 large chicken (about 1.8kg), divided into pieces on the bone
- 1kg full-fat natural yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons ginger–garlic paste
- 200g ground almonds
- a few tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, lightly cracked in a pestle and mortar
- 7.5cm cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 3 whole star anise
- 3 medium red onions, thickly sliced
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- a generous pinch of saffron
- 5 small green chillies
- split a large handful of coriander, leaves picked and chopped
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Place your chicken pieces in a large bowl followed by the yoghurt, ginger–garlic paste, ground almonds, and a few good sprinkles of salt and black pepper to season. Massage the chicken pieces, evenly coating them with the yoghurt mixture. Cover the bowl and leave the chicken to sit out at room temperature, while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Melt the ghee or butter in a large, cast-iron pot over a medium heat. Once melted, throw in cardamom pods, cassia or cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Allow the spices to sizzle for a minute or two to become fragrant, then add the caraway seeds, giving them 1 minute to sizzle with the spices.
Add the onions and turn up the heat slightly. Leave to cook for 5 minutes. When they begin to sizzle and take on some colour, add the saffron.
Take the chicken out of the marinade, squeezing it through your fingers to remove as much yoghurt coating as possible. Reserve the marinade in the bowl.
Turn up the heat under the pot and add the chicken, stirring it through for 5 minutes, until it begins to take on some colour. Stir in the marinade and when the sauce begins to bubble, turn down the heat to low and add the chillies.
Place a lid on the pot, keeping it ever so slightly ajar, and cook the chicken for 45 minutes, returning to the pan every 5 minutes to give things a stir.
Alternatively, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Place the pot in the oven without a lid for 45 minutes, returning every 10 minutes to give things a stir.
By the end of the cooking time, the yoghurt should have reduced so that it looks as though it has split and is slightly bobbly, but coats the chicken. Stir through the coriander leaves. Serve, ideally with fresh rotlis and kachuber salad.
About Farokh Talati:
Farokh Talati is the head chef at St. John Bread & Wine, the classic nose-to-tail restaurant in London, England. Of Parsi descent, Talati has been hosting Pari supper clubs in Soho for many years and is the author of Parsi: From Persia to Bombay, which is a collection of classic and contemporary Parsi recipes. You can follow the chef at @123farokh on Instagram.