Tracing the history of Indian cuisine is as enticing as it is challenging. Some of the most loved dishes have little to no written evidence surrounding their birth. This is especially true for Chicken Hariyali, the green chicken curry that makes its august presence felt in every North Indian restaurant and roadside dhaba menu.
Historians conjecture that this creamy, luscious chicken dish may have been conceived in homes of Punjab, owing to the sheer number of Punjabi food preparations that use spinach as the base for their gravies. In fact, the dish gets its characteristic emerald colour from the spinach, coriander and mint leaves used in the puree. Despite a generous hit of green chillies, Hariyali Chicken leans toward more sweet than savoury in taste. This is because the gravy is thickened with cream, coconut milk or cashew milk. Further, the mint leaves have a cooling effect on the taste buds.
Much like other North Indian chicken curries, Hariyali Chicken is cooked in an assortment of spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala. In addition, a homemade green paste is whipped up by combining spinach, mint leaves, methi leaves (fenugreek), coriander leaves, cashews, spices and salt, which is used to make the gravy. A side of Butter Naan, paper-thin Chapatis (Indian flatbread) or a steaming plate of rice is served on the side to polish off this robust yet wholesome meat dish.
But if you are inclined towards a more snacky preparation of this green chicken, Hariyali Chicken Kebabs are your one-stop solution. These bite-sized chicken cubes are anointed in a marinade with the same ingredients, barring cashew paste. Then they're lined one after another on a skewer and grilled inside the oven. Once the sides crispen up with a char, the piping hot kebabs are sprinkled with lime juice and served with a side of Raita (yoghurt dip). Indeed, having your greens never sounded tastier.