Cooking meat in milk is not new. There was a pork cooked in milk recipe in a 1970s something cookbook that came with our SEB pressure cooker when I was a little girl. I tried it, liked it, and I’ve cooked it many times before. Jamie Oliver has a chicken in milk and I decided I would do my own version. With a twist, naturally. Chicken mangoes yogurt stew — yogurt instead of milk and with cubes of fresh ripe mangoes.
How did it turn out? Can I brag just this one time? Because it tasted quite heavenly and I am not being melodramatic. It was perfect. The chicken meat was moist and juicy, the sparse sauce was thick with just the right balance between tang and sweetness. And the aroma… Oh, the aroma. It really pays to have fresh herbs growing in the garden. The chopped cilantro blended with the lemon zest and the result was quite extraordinary.
Here is a step-by-step visual guide.
Toss the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Roughly chop the onions and cilantro.
Split the mangoes to remove the stones then score the flesh with a sharp pointed knife to create cubes. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Heat the cooking oil in a wide frying pan. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer, skin side down, in the hot oil. Do NOT move them around for several minutes. Just leave them alone for a while and give them a chance to brown. You have to cook the chicken over high heat to brown the outside.
After letting the chicken fry WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM for about five minutes, check to see how they are browning. If the skins are nicely browned, flip to brown the opposite side.
Scatter the chopped onions, cubed mangoes and chopped cilantro over the browned chicken pieces.
Pour the yogurt over the chicken, mangoes and vegetables. Sprinkle about a teaspoonful of grated lemon zest all over. There is no need to stir at this point. Cover the cooking pan, lower the heat and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how large or small your chicken pieces are. Leave them alone, I tell you. Do not be tempted to peek and stir. You want the juices retained in that covered cooking pan.
When the chicken is almost done, stir the stew, cover the pan once more and turn up the heat to medium. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to almost nothing.
This is how the cooked chicken mangoes yogurt stew looks. The little sauce that remains is thick after the sugar in the mangoes has caramelized. The yogurt has curdled and its flavors have mixed with the juices.
When you don’t stir and stir while cooking, see what happens? The mango cubes retain their shape. They were soft, alright. Very soft. But they did not liquefy and it would have been a pity if they did.
The salt and pepper sprinkled on the chicken were just right to season the stew. The tartness of the yogurt was barely discernible after mixing with the sweetness of the mangoes.
This dish has no sharp flavors. I can’t describe it as salty or sweet or tangy. It’s just an indescribable medley that smells so good with the cilantro and lemon zest. Definitely worth cooking again. And definitely good enough to cook for a dinner party.
Ciao and happy cooking.