This dish was a hit during the holidays. My 90-year old grandfather who is extremely fussy with food gave his two thumbs up for this holiday meal. My grandfather who is “teething”, or rather, has extremely fragile teeth, can’t eat anything that’s too tough on his gums. This means that the chicken was so tender that he enjoyed eating it without rudely picking into his teeth. If you have a 90 year old Asian grandparent, you’ll know what I mean
Not only was the meat tender, but it bursted with flavour. The lentil sauce was rich and velvety which made it hard for everyone to not devour their meal and to not ask for seconds. As an avid cook, I was so pleased that evening.
Because the lentils are so filling and rich in protein and nutrients, you don’t need to serve this dish with anything else. The key to this awesome dish is to let the chicken cook slowly for a long time until the meat falls off the bones. Your dinner guests won’t even need to use a knife!
Preparation time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 35-40 minutes.
Recipe “au pif”:4 large chicken thighs, seasoned with 2 tsp coarse sea salt and black pepper
½ cup red lentils
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic glove, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 recipe spice blend *
4 cups boiling water
2 tbsp concentrated chicken or vegetable chicken stock, or 1 cube chicken/vegetable stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
½ cup good quality coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Fresh coriander to garnish
* Spice blend recipe:½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp ground tumeric
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp dried chili flakes
5 whole cloves
1 star anise
A pinch of saffron
Mix all spices in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large non-stick Teflon pan, brown the chicken thighs in 1 tsp vegetable oil and put aside.
In a large cooking pot, heat the oil used to brown the chicken on medium high heat and add onions, ginger and garlic. Stir for about 2 minutes until ingredients turn golden brown.
Stir in the spice blend and stir for about 1 minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coconut milk, carefully place the chicken in the sauce and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, when the lentils are soft, remove chicken and lay on a large serving dish. Stir lentil sauce occasionally.
Remove pot from heat and stir in the coconut milk. Mix well and let it cool for a few minutes.
Use a hand blender to purée the mixture until smooth and velvety. Ladle some of the sauce over the chicken.
Garnish with fresh coriander.
Serve hot with steamed basmati or jasmine rice.