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How to Make Chicken Cafreal for Diwali

India’s “festival of lights” is celebrated with wonderful food

A top-down photo of chicken cafreal with wheat crisp against a bright green backdrop

Chicken Cafreal can be dressed up with a latticed wheat crisp.

Photo courtesy of Rasai

Get ready to shine for Diwali. The Indian “festival of lights” is coming up on Mon., Oct. 24 — and with it comes some incredible food.

Fremont restaurant Rasai is celebrating the holiday with Chicken Cafreal, a special dish it’s only serving Monday.

But if you can’t make it over there, chef Guarav Raj has shared his recipe, which can be easily made at home with many pantry staples. Cook and enjoy. 🍽️

Ingredients for the chicken

  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs
  • ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice/vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Ingredients for the cafreal masala

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stalks
  • 6-7 green chilies
  • 6-7 large garlic cloves
  • 1 & ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 inch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 oz of tamarind/Juice of half a lime

Preparation

  1. Pat the chicken dry and make some gashes on the thighs. Rub it well with lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. In a blender or grinder, add all the ingredients listed under cafreal masala and blend into a smooth paste using water as needed.
  3. Apply half of the prepared marinade to the chicken and let it marinate 2-3 hours or overnight. Reserve the remaining marinade in the refrigerator.
  4. Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Heat butter and oil in a pan. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Add the reserved marinade along with 1/2 cup water and cook covered on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes — depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
  6. When the chicken is almost done, cook uncovered until the gravy dries up a bit and the masala coats the chicken well.
  7. Once done, squeeze lemon juice and serve hot.

If you really want to make the dish fancy, here’s how to bake that optional crisp you see in the photo.

Wheat crisp ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup Semolina
  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water

Crisp preparation

  1. Add all the ingredients except the water into a mixing bowl. Rub the flour with oil to crumble. Then add water and knead the dough well.
  2. Cover it and rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Take the dough out and roll it with a rolling pin or a pasta roller and cut into desired shape.
  4. Fry at 350° in the oven until golden brown.
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