People have been consuming chicken for thousands of years. Chicken is the most common form of poultry consumed in the world because of it's low cost. Chicken reared to be marketed are called broilers. Broiler chicken are mature and ready for slaughter in 7 weeks, roasters take longer, 3-5 months. Young chicken that are 28 days old are sold under the name 'Poussin'. Today, chicken can be bought whole, in parts, marinated or processed.
Chicken is an awesome main ingredient because its flavor does not over power the other ingredients. Chicken takes up the taste and flavor of the other ingredients. This is why when ever we try some new meat (rabbit, duck etc.) we say that it tasted like chicken.
Different parts of the chicken are consumed depending on the country and cuisine.
Breast – The breast is the fleshiest part in the chicken. It has white meat and is the best part to use when a recipe requires boneless chicken.
Leg- The drumstick is everyone’s favorite. The thigh (upper leg) is also very fleshy.
Wing- The wing is divided into two segments. The piece from the body to the first joint is used widely in dishes because the flesh is little in this part, making it easy to absorb the flavoring in the curry.
The other part (tip) is also used in many dishes like ‘buffalo wings’ and is served separately. This part has lots of cartilage.
Feet- This is consumed in certain countries, eg. Philipines. The edible part is the skin in the feet.
Giblet- All the parts that come in the chicken will fall into this category. Heart, liver, lungs, kidney, bladder etc. dishes are made out of each part. In my country (Sri lankan cuisine) the liver is cooked in oil and pepper and eaten as a side dish for rice.
Head- Heads are widely consumed in China. The head is split and the brain and other flesh inside is eaten.
Neck- Neck is a favorite of bone lovers like my aunt. This part has more bones than flesh and is cooked mostly in South Asian cuisine.
Blood – Some cultures use blood in various dishes. The blood is collected in a container and made to harden. Then it is cut like marshmallows and put in soups.
Carcass - The bones and the rest of the remaining parts can be added to make delicious stock, that can be added in fried rice dishes like nasi goreng and pasta.
Eggs - Eggs can be boiled, fried, poached, scrambled and my granny even makes egg coffee. It is yummy! I am hoping to write an article on its recipe.
Sometimes you will find a cluster of eggs in home reared hens after slaughter. These are actually yolks and can be cooked in hot sauce to make a tasty side dish.
Skin- Skin is the part that has the most amount of fat in the chicken. Skinned chicken is sold separate by most chicken producers. (Bairaha is a household brand in our country) Dishes can be cooked by cutting the chicken along with the skin, this will give an awesome flavor to the dish and it will make the dish oily.
Preparing chicken for cooking
Chicken can be bought whole or in parts that are pre-cleaned. This is one reason people prefer poultry to seafood dishes. Seafood can be messy to clean and cook, but its way healthier than poultry.
In my country, we rarely use frozen chicken. There are small farm shops every few miles, where we can get fresh chicken.
After cutting and removing the fat deposits and the unnecessary parts we wash the chicken in water mixed with salt and turmeric because salt and turmeric have germ killing properties.
Whole chicken can be frozen up to 12 months.
Parts can be frozen up to 9 months and chicken giblets for 4 months.
The chicken has to be wrapped well before freezing. Vacuüm packaging is best for freezing. Freezing will not change the taste or color of the chicken, but the bones and the flesh closer to it will darken due to the seepage of pigment from the bone. Frozen chicken should be thawed completely before cooking, if not it will take more than 1 ½ times longer to cook.
Nutritional value in 100 g of chicken
Fats 12.6 g
Protein 24.7 g
Water 64 g
Vitamin A, vitamin B5, iron and sodium
Let us take a look at various Indian chicken dishes
Chicken, like any other meat can be grilled, roasted, braised, baked or fried. Chicken can be added in soups, savory fillings, salads, pasta, and rice and in Arabian shawarma. Chicken is also used to make sausages, seasoning powder, burgers, kieves, nuggets, chicken lollipops and meat balls.
Chicken 65 is a variety of deep fried chicken. This chicken is different from other deep fried chicken because of its beautiful red hot color, due to the use of a powder called kesari. The batter for this chicken is made of ginger, mustard powder, vinegar and curd.
Chicken tikka is very famous and can be ordered in most restaurants around the world. It is an Indian barbecue, made with small cubes of boneless chicken in skewers, marinated in spice and yogurt. This is then roasted in an oven called tandoor. The chicken is brushed with ghee to give it a golden color and moistness.
This is a spicy chicken dish cooked with onion, ginger and garlic. It is flavored with whole spices and garnished with coriander leaves.
Tandoori chicken is a variety of smoked chicken. This chicken is different from other kind of smoked meat because of its beautiful red-hot color, due to the use many kind of peppers and turmeric. The batter to dip the chicken is made from many kinds of spices and curd. This dish is one of the spiciest of Indian food.
This is a chicken curry made with onion, dry spices and spice powders. Coconut milk is added to this curry to bring out a creamy and rich flavor.
Chicken saagwala (spinach chicken)
This dish is made using blended spinach.
Muglai chicken is rich in flavor. It is chicken cooked in almond paste, ghee, cream and spices. This combination makes the gravy smooth and thick.
This is a dish in which chicken is cooked along with various kinds of lentils and spices.
Murgh Makhani (butter chicken)
Chicken is marinated for as long as one day and cooked in the ‘tandoor’. (a special oven for barbecuing chicken) The fried or barbecued chicken is cooked in butter, tomato purée and spices.
These are some of India's famous chicken dishes. As you can see there are many ways of preparing chicken. The chicken dishes above are quite spicy as Indians prefer their dishes that way.
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