3 pounds chicken pieces or 1 ½ boneless skinless chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cardamom pods (optional)
1 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick (optional)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Remove the skin and all visible fat from the chicken pieces. (I often have the butcher clean the chicken.) Cut 2-3 slits, 1 inch long and 1/2 inch deep, in each piece of chicken. Set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer and fry for 3-5 minutes, turning the pieces over once or twice until they are white. Transfer the chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Add cumin powder, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, chopped onion, garlic and ginger to the oil. Fry for 7-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions are golden brown.
Stir in tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, ground fennel seeds and black pepper. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Whip yogurt with wire wisk and add 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. Fry for another 2-4 minutes.
Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt. Stir to coat the spice mixture evenly. Pour the water evenly over the chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add the cilantro and gently stir the chicken. Cover tightly and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Chicken should be tender to the touch but should not fall apart.
Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
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