This dish borrows from a few cultures to give us one of our favorite flavor combinations—a little spice, some roasted warmth, and cool yogurt. For an extra kick of flavor, serve with Harissa.
This is a classic North African sauce made from ground spices, to be used in the same way as moles, pestos, and chutneys from all over the world. Use the ingredients you have available and add in the chiles you can handle, then load up on garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Look for dried cilantro in the Mexican section of your local grocery store. Dried mint is often there as well, or is readily available at Middle Eastern markets.
Makes 1½–2 cups
5 dry ancho chiles
5 dry guajillo chiles
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dry mint leaves
1 teaspoon dry cilantro
4–5 garlic cloves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Juice from 2 lemons
Bring a small pot or tea kettle of water to boil. Place the chiles in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them until submerged. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let rest for 10–15 minutes, until the skin peels off easily. Drain, peel, remove any seeds and stems, and set aside.
Gently toast the spices and herbs in a dry pan over medium-high heat until they become very fragrant—about 5 minutes should be enough. Stir consistently to keep from scorching. Remove from heat.
Combine the garlic cloves, olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a blender along with your dry toasted spice mix and chiles. Pulse as you drizzle in the lemon juice until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Adjust flavor with lemon and salt to taste.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Chicken Madras and Yogurt Sauce
- 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion
- 2 jalapeños, sliced into thin strips
- 1 large tomato, cut in half and sliced thin
- 8 ounces mushrooms, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots or red onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt to taste
- Juice from half a lemon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Trim off any excess fat or skin from the chicken and set the chicken aside. Mix the vegetables, curry powder, coconut oil, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub it thoroughly with the spice mix.
Transfer everything into an oven-safe baking dish, making sure the chicken is skin-side down. Bake for 30 minutes.
Scrape the pan, mixing the vegetables, flip the chicken over, and bake skin-side up on the top rack of the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the skin crisps and juices run clear.
Make the Yogurt Sauce
While the chicken is baking, place yogurt, jalapeño, shallots or onion, and cilantro in a blender and pulse until smooth. Adjust for flavor with salt, lemon juice, and olive oil, as needed. Chill until you are ready to serve. (Leftover yogurt sauce can be kept in the fridge for 2–3 days.)
Just before serving, top the chicken with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dollop of yogurt sauce.
Chicken Madras – Calories 524, Protein 37 g, Carbs 7 g, Fat 38 g, Fiber 2 g, Sodium 532 mg
Harissa – (2 tbsp.) Calories 87, Protein 2 g, Carbs 9 g, Fat 6 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 202 mg
Adapted from Feed Zone Table: Family-Style Meals to Nourish Life and Sport by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim, with permission of VeloPress.