Kalonji chicken

February 4, 2009

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Serves 4

Kalonji, which also go by the name nigella, are the small black seeds of a flowering herb with pale blue flowers grown throughout India called love-in-a-mist. Known for their nutlike, peppery, and slightly bitter taste, they are available in Indian markets, or go to If you can't get kalonji, substitute yellow or black mustard seeds. Serve this dish with basmati rice.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kalonji seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
2 green Thai chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add kalonji and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until they begin to crackle and pop. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chilies. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

3. Add the turmeric, coriander, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

4. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil, and let the mixture bubble steadily for a couple of minutes to reduce the wine.

5. Add the chicken, and stir well to coat with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the mixture with garam masala. Add the spinach, cover the pan, and set aside for 2 minutes or until the spinach wilts. Adapted from 309 Dhaba Indian Excellence