Almost a decade ago I spent a short few days in Goa, India, leaving much of the place to be explored on a later trip that hasn't materialized yet.
Possibly due to the tropical biodiversity and the cultural amalgam, Goa has a rich cuisine that was shaped by 400 years of Portuguese colonialism with nuts from Brazil, plus tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, as well as the locally abundant coconut which graces almost all savory curries.
Chicken Xacuti ("sha-kooti"), aka Chacuti de Galinha, is a Goan chicken curry with layers of flavors thoughtfully incorporated to tease and satisfy the palate, especially for the curry-lovers.
The dry roasted spices ground to a powder, plus the masala paste ground to a thick rich consistency with a base of onions, ginger, garlic and tomato combine to form a delectable gravy in which the marinated chicken piece are cooked till tender and juicy.
Instead of chicken, prawns or fish can be substituted with the same curry paste gravy.
The dry spices: coriander, cumin. caraway, poppy seeds, black peppercorns, star anise, Indian cinnamon bark
For the masala paste: Ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and coconut
Rub the chicken with turmeric powder and marinate in yogurt while getting the spices and masala paste ready.
2 chicken breasts, chopped, rubbed with turmeric powder, marinated in plain yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3-inch piece of Indian cinnamon bark
1 star anise
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp poppy seeds
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
8 to 10 cloves of garlic
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 medium tomato chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 6 Tbsp coconut cream or coconut milk
- Heat some coconut oil in a pot, add the masala paste and saute till aromatic
- Drain and add the marinated chicken pieces and stir to incorporate well
- When chicken is mostly cooked, stir in some of the dry ground spices
- Finally, as an option, add a few tablespoons of coconut cream to enhance the tropical flavors
- Serve warm with steamed plain basmati rice or naan