Spicy Kewra Chicken

Kewra water (also known as Kevda) is a distilled extract derived from the pandanus flower and is better known in South Asian cuisine as Pandan leaf extract. Kewra water is mainly used in North Indian cuisine, being very aromatic it is not commonly associated to savoury dishes and is favoured for desserts or drinks. Using floral waters for food has always been considered a luxury and they are often used when celebrating weddings or special religious festivals; this is one of the reasons I love using Kewra water in my biryanis, it adds an oomph of aroma to the dish. This Spicy Kewra Chicken developed from my love of adding the extract to my biryanis and has extended into a full recipe of its own.

Although similar to rose water, kewra water in my opinion is more subtle and I prefer it over rose water personally. It isn’t an ingredient I have seen used in many recipes, and of these, most tend to be drinks or desserts. When I first tested this recipe I wasn’t sure how well my family would take to it, I was pleasantly surprised when they gave the recipe the thumbs up (my greatest critics are my family, lol). I think the recipe works and this is a dish you would want gracing the table when entertaining guests, it has a very luxurious aroma and can sit well in place of a Bengali favourite, Bengali Roast Chicken. That said, it is spicier than the aforementioned recipe, so that is something to be mindful of when deciding on a menu.

If this is your very first time cooking with kewra water and you feel the aroma is too strong for your liking, perhaps just stick to 1 tbsp of the water instead of 2, as stated in the recipe. Since I use this quite often for my biryani recipe, my family and I are accustomed to the fairly strong scent, we enjoy it.

As well as being aromatic, the curry is quite spicy and the two concepts marry well together. If you are not too keen on the amount of spice added in this recipe you may use less, although I think the spice level balances the strong aroma of the kewra water very well.

I’m hoping that this recipe is something new that will become an old favourite over time, after all someone has to invent these old favourites!

Serves 6

You will need: for Spicy Kewra Chicken

For marinating the chicken:
1 roaster chicken
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp tandoori powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp yellow food colour
1/4 tsp red food colour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp kewra water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil

For the masala:
3 + 2 tbsp oil (added in stages to the recipe)
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp garlic
2 onions (medium – large)
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 tsp tandoori powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
5 green chillies (optional)
coriander to garnish

Method:

Spicy kewra Chicken

Measure out the ingredients for marinating the chicken pieces and the masala beforehand, this makes it easier adding the spices later on without soiling your jars.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Mix the spices for marinating the chicken thoroughly before adding to the chicken, this will ensure the food colouring is distributed evenly and won’t result in patchy coloured chicken pieces.

Add the spices to the cleaned chicken, along with 1 tbsp of kewra water….

Spicy kewra Chicken

….1 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tbsp of oil.

Mix the chicken with all of the ingredients and leave to one side.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Peel and finely slice 2 onions.

Add 3 tbsp of oil to a wide shallow frying pan and fry the marinated chicken pieces for 3 – 4 minutes either side, in batches, till lightly cooked on the outside.

Spicy kewra Chicken

After frying the chicken, add some water to the pan to release any stuck on browned bits, these parts are full of flavour and you don’t want to lose that.

Allow the water to evaporate and thicken slightly before adding 2 tbsp of extra oil.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Once the water has evaporated and the oil surfaces, add the whole spices, 2 cinnamon sticks and 4 bay leaves, followed by 2 tsp minced ginger and 2 tsp minced garlic. Fry the whole spices till the aromas are released and the ginger and garlic have lost their rawness.

Next add the 2 sliced onions….

Spicy kewra Chicken

….along with 1 tsp of salt (adjust to taste), mix well, cover and cook over a low flame.

Cook the onions until they’re soft and ready to have the spices added, about 10 minutes.

Once the onions look translucent add the spices; 2 tsp tandoori powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and 1/2 tsp cumin powder.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Fry the spices for 5 minutes, keep the onions moving to prevent them catching and burning.

If the onions and spices feel dry, add a splash of water and once the oil appears to separate from the masala add the lightly fried chicken back into the pan.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Add an additional 1 tbsp of kewra water and enough water to create gravy to your desired consistency, cover and boil the curry for 10 – 15 minutes, till the chicken is completely cooked through.

Add 5 whole green chillies to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking and remove from the heat.

Spicy kewra Chicken

Garnish with coriander and serve your Spicy Kewra chicken with your favourite rice dish, roti or naan!

Spicy Kewra Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For marinating the chicken:
  • 1 roaster chicken
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tandoori powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp paprika powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp yellow food colour
  • ¼ tsp red food colour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp kewra water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
For the masala:
  • 3 + 2 tbsp oil (added in stages to the recipe)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 onions (medium - large)
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp tandoori powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 5 green chillies (optional)
  • coriander to garnish
Method
  1. Measure out the ingredients for marinating the chicken pieces and the masala beforehand, this makes it easier adding the spices later on without soiling your jars.
  2. Mix the spices for marinating the chicken thoroughly before adding to the chicken, this will ensure the food colouring is distributed evenly and won't result in patchy coloured chicken pieces.
  3. Add the spices to the cleaned chicken, along with 1 tbsp of kewra water....
  4. tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tbsp of oil.
  5. Mix the chicken with all of the ingredients and leave to one side.
  6. Peel and finely slice 2 onions.
  7. Add 3 tbsp of oil to a wide shallow frying pan and fry the marinated chicken pieces for 3 - 4 minutes either side, in batches, till lightly cooked on the outside.
  8. After frying the chicken, add some water to the pan to release any stuck on browned bits, these parts are full of flavour and you don't want to lose that.
  9. Allow the water to evaporate and thicken slightly before adding 2 tbsp of extra oil.
  10. Once the water has evaporated and the oil surfaces, add the whole spices, 2 cinnamon sticks and 4 bay leaves, followed by 2 tsp minced ginger and 2 tsp minced garlic. Fry the whole spices till the aromas are released and the ginger and garlic have lost their rawness.
  11. Next add the 2 sliced onions....
  12. along with 1 tsp of salt (adjust to taste), mix well, cover and cook over a low flame.
  13. Cook the onions until they're soft and ready to have the spices added, about 10 minutes.
  14. Once the onions look translucent add the spices; 2 tsp tandoori powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, ½ tsp coriander powder and ½ tsp cumin powder.
  15. Fry the spices for 5 minutes, keep the onions moving to prevent them catching and burning.
  16. If the onions and spices feel dry, add a splash of water and once the oil appears to separate from the masala add the lightly fried chicken back into the pan.
  17. Add an additional 1 tbsp of kewra water and enough water to create gravy to your desired consistency, cover and boil the curry for 10 - 15 minutes, till the chicken is completely cooked through.
  18. Add 5 whole green chillies to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking and remove from the heat.
  19. Garnish with coriander and serve your Spicy Kewra chicken with your favourite rice dish, roti or naan!

If you like the recipe please share with friends and family, also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Questions? Leave a comment below or message me on Facebook.

 

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