Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over ancient history, influenced by Kashmiri Buddists and Pandits who avoid Chicken, Lamb, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Most of the vegetarian dishes have delicate flavors like the Dum Aloo and of course Kashmiri Pulao is as popular, unique and full of flavor. The Muslims in Kashmir, who cook chicken and lamb, came up with dishes slow cooked in yoghurt called Yakhni. One such dish is the Chicken Yakhni which may be served at Wazwans. The Wazwan is Kashmir's most formal meal a ritual where hospitality to the guest is performed more like a ceremony. Days of planning and hours of cooking go into the making of a wazwan and so is restricted to special occasions or celebrations with table settings for groups. Each of the dishes served at a Wazwan is aromatic with beautiful herbs and fresh regional produce. Some of the delicacies served are Methi and Tabakmaaz, Roganjosh and Rista and many kinds of Kababs and vegetables. The meal may conclude with Gushtaba an exclusive dish made from ground lamb and Phirni for dessert. A cup of Kahwah or saffron flavored green tea ends the meal.
Chicken has been out of my kitchen for some time and as one of my foodie friends had warned me I feel an unarmed meat battle brewing:). To make peace, I decide primarily to cook this elegant Kashmiri chicken for R. Perhaps, I may have felt the guilt pangs for making him "suffer" through my "happy herbivore" saga in the last few months. The result was a stunning Kashmiri delight....and he agreed he thoroughly enjoyed the delicious curry. It felt good when he softly admitted that he had been more energetic ever since I had been serving up veggies, whole grain and a whole set of alternative protein sources in our meals. Anyhow, I hope I did'nt get you too engrossed in the story but I think I may manoeuvre him on to vegetables for a few more weeks.LOL!!!On another note...... the Chicken Yakhni turned out to be an exquisitely flavored and slow cooked dish.
I would highly recommend this dish for someone who has always wanted to try Indian flavors for the first time but have shied away from it being afraid of spices or chillies. The aromatic raw spices are just added for the chicken to cook and absorb the flavors and you can remove them with a spoon once the chicken is cooked. Although typically made in a pressure cooker, I found it convenient to use a Dutch Oven.
METHODClean, wash and cut the chicken into one inch sized pieces.Place chicken, fennel powder, ginger and garlic paste, bay leaves, green cardamoms, crushed hotl green chillies, cinnamon, cloves, asafoetida and salt in a Dutch Oven. Add one cup of water and cook till chicken is tender and the liquid has dried up. Whisk the yogurt with refined flour and add slowly to the chicken. Stir constantly. Simmer for fifteen minutes or till gravy thickens. Prepare a tempering with ghee and caraway seeds and pour over chicken. Serve hot.