Handi is a very famous and popular dish in Pakistan. Recently I have been blessed with ample of time at hand, thus I have started trying different recipes with the aim of creating healthier versions. The following recipe is extremely easy and with the help of step by step method detailed below, even those who are unfamiliar with Pakistani food would be able to prepare the dish without hassle.
This is a slim down version of the handi, thus it would have neither cream nor butter as part of the ingredients. Oil, I recommend using first cold press olive oil or extra virgin. To be classified extra virgin , the olive oil has to be pressed exactly only once. The cold is the state of fruit which cannot exceed more than 27 degree Celsius. Many argue that first cold press is an old term and nowadays standing press are not used. However, any oil that is extracted by just putting pressure on the fruit once is better than one that has been squeezed again and again to get every single drop out of a single fruit. Please feel free to substitute any oil you want that you feel is the healthier option.
Below are the basic ingredients required to make the dish.
- Chicken breast (skinless ) - 500g (1/2 KG)
- Onions - 4 medium size
- Olive Oil - 8 Table Spoons (Tbsp , or 1/2 cup)
- Ginger / Garlic paste - 2 Tbsp
- Yogurt 250ml
- 1/2 Cup of Chicken Stock (knorr chicken cube works as well )
- Tomatoes - 6 medium size
- Salt - per taste (roughly 2 Tbsp)
- Red Chili powder - (1 Tbsp)
- Cumin Powder (Zeera powder) - 1 Tea Spoon ( tsp)
- Turmeric power (Haldi powder) - 1/4 tsp
- Funugreek seed ( Methi Dana) - 1/2 tsp
- Hot spices powder ( Garam Masala ) - 1/2 tsp
- Corn Flour - 2 Tbsp
The preparation time can be up to 30 minutes for people who are casual cooks (like me) in the kitchen.
Step 1 - Cutting Chicken :
The chicken needs to be cut into small cubes (this does not mean that you bring a geometric kit to make sure each piece is a perfect cube of equal dimensions and weight, but hey, if that is how you wish it be , then go for it)
Once cut the cubes should resemble something like shown in the picture below.
Step 2 - Blending Tomatoes:
Wash the tomatoes (usually not done with soap only water is used. However I have known some who prefer their vegetables shining before they are cooked. So don't hold back on my account). After washing just pop them in a blender (after cutting or whole , depending upon the capacity of the blender). Just simply blend to make a paste. DO NOT ADD WATER.
For those who do not have a blender, just cut small pieces and crush them in a bowl with the help of a spoon. Alternatively you can buy tomato paste , one packet would be enough.
Step 3: Chopping Onions
I prefer red onions. They have a richer taste as compared to the other variety. Onions need to be finely chopped. I sometimes pat myself on the back for buying that slap chop from telemarketing as at times like these it becomes extremely handy. Otherwise tears would stream by the time the onions are completely chopped. Alternatively, take out the tomato paste in a bowl , wash the blender and then blend some onions.
The idea is to have very fine minced/chopped onions. The smaller the onions, easier it would be to mix/cook in the dish later.
This is all the preparation that would be required beforehand. Everything else would be used as is during the actual cooking.
- Put a pan on the stove.
- Turn the stove to the highest setting ( if you have electrical one, turn it on at 6).
- Put the oil and heat it. Soon it will start to sizzle.
- As soon as sizzling starts , put in the chicken pieces. We have to quick fry the chicken till the time it changes color from pink-ish to white-ish. As soon as all pieces have changed color take the chicken out. Make sure you leave the oil behind in the pan.
- Once the chicken is out. Put the onions in. Keep the heat on high ( 6 ).
- Fry the onions till they start to change color to light gold. We do not want to wait till they become brown. Constant stirring will be required all the time.
- Once the onions have changed color, turn the heat to medium (4 on electric stoves). Start adding below items while continue to stir.
- Add the 2 Tbsp of ginger garlic paste.
- Add tomato paste.
- Add yogurt.
- Add red Chilli.
- Add turmeric powder.
- Add Cumin powder.
- Add Salt (later do taste to see if more is required).
- Hold on to Garam Masala and Methi dana for now.
- Stir every now and then, once you see that oil starts to come on top when you leave stirring then it is done.
- At this point add the previously fried chicken pieces and the chicken stock.
- Add Garam Masala and Methi dana at this time.
- stir once and then close the lid for 8 mins.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl add corn flower in water.
- After 5 mins remove the lid and mix in the corn flour while stirring as you would in chicken corn soup to make it thick. Once the gravy has reached desired thickness (it should be like tomato ketchup) stop adding corn flour.
- Once more wait till the oil starts to come up to the surface, once that happens the dish is ready.
Dish out and Garnish with green chilies, ginger and coriander as per taste.