Chicken (or Galihna) Cafreal is a classic dish from Goa, the former Portuguese colony in India, and therefore is a classic example of fusion cuisine. The dish is thought to have originated in Mozambique (another former Portuguese colony), most of the ingredients are Indian, but the cooking oil is olive oil, which is Portuguese. This version is based on a recipe in the NYT by Nik Sharma. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of spices and herbs which are later cooked with the chicken to form a dry “sauce” after the liquid has cooked off. It is accompanied here with potatoes which are boiled and then roasted in the oven to give them a creamy interior and a roasted exterior. This will make 4-8 servings.
The dish requires about 1-2 hours to marinade and then about an hour to cook.
3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 medium onions, peeled and divided
1 bunch of cilantro, divided
1 head of garlic, peeled
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 serrano chili
10 whole cloves
1 Tbs. fresh lime (or lemon) juice
1 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin feeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium russet potatoes
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
Cut one of the onions in quarters. (Save the other onion for later.) Put it and the garlic cloves and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and chop finely. Add almost all of the cilantro to the bowl of the food processor, reserving about 2 Tbs. for a garnish at the end. Add the spices, lime juice, and 2 Tbs. of water. Process until the mixture is as smooth as possible, scraping it down a few times with a spatula.
Piece the chicken thighs all over with a fork and put them into a one gallon ziplock baggie. Add the spice and herb mixture from the food processor. Seal the bag and massage the chicken to distribute the spice and herb mixture evenly. Marinade it for 1-2 hours.
When you are about ready to start cooking the chicken, Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters the long way. Put them in a large saucepan with cold water covering them an inch deep, plus a tsp. of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes until a sharp knife can easily go through the potatoes. Put the potatoes on a cookie sheet and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper them generously and sprinkle them with 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, until browned on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Cover the potatoes with aluminum foil if they are ready before the chicken.
Cut the remaining onion into rings. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion and saute until translucent. Then add the chicken and its marinade. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is browned and the marinade has turned into a dark brown thick sauce, scrapping the bottom of the skillet from time to time to prevent burning. Cooking the chicken will take about 30 minutes.
To serve, put one or two chicken thighs on a plate with one or two of the potato wedges and garnish with the chopped cilantro.