Chicken with Indian spices

(jonathan levitt for the boston globe)
By Jonathan Levitt
Globe Correspondent / December 3, 2008
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Serves 4

Chicken simmered with plenty of warming spices is just the thing for the short, cold days and long, dark nights of December. Legs and thighs, less expensive than breasts, can stand up to longer cooking. Make a quick broth with the poultry pieces and water. While the chicken cooks, mellow the spices and aromatics. The list of spices may seem long, but each lends an appealing layer of depth to the dish. Stir the chicken meat, cooking broth, yogurt, and potatoes into the spice mixture. Let the dish simmer for a while. To finish, add lime juice and fresh cilantro.

3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12-inch piece of ginger root, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 green chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
5 all-purpose potatoes, cut into small wedges
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. In a large flameproof casserole, combine the chicken, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. If the water does not cover the meat, add more. Bring to a boil, skim the surface thoroughly, lower the heat, and partially cover the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot. Tip the broth into a bowl.

2. Rinse and dry the pot. Add the butter. When it melts, add the cumin seeds, black pepper, onion, garlic, and ginger. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

3. Add the coriander, turmeric, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and chili peppers. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

4. Set the pan aside. Pull the chicken meat off the bones. Measure 3 cups of the broth.

5. Stir the yogurt and broth into the onion mixture. Add the chicken and potatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

6. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

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