Chicken Xacuti from Goa
Goa is the smallest state in India located on the west coast, bordering Maharashtra on the north, Karnataka in the south & the east, and the Arabian Sea on the west. It was a Portuguese colony for 450 years before it was annexed by India in 1961 and the cuisine has a huge Portuguese influence. Being the coastal state, seafood is very popular. Seafood, coconut, rice and spices are common ingredients in Goan cooking. Rice with Xit Kodi (fish curry) is a staple food. Kokum is dry fruit which his used a lot in this cuisine as a souring agent. This gives curries the dark color and is used instead of tamarind in Konkan region, which also includes Goa. Goan cuisine is influenced by both the Hindus and the Portuguese.
Fish is a staple in the region and Kingfish is the most preferred fish followed by pomfret, shark, tuna and mackerel. The other seafood consumed in the state is prawn, crab, lobster, squid and mussels. Potatoes, tomatoes, cashews and pineapples were introduced by the Portuguese and most important spice that was brought by the Portuguese is chili. The Hindu cuisine is mainly vegetarian but also includes seafood. Hindu cuisine is not spicy, uses kokum and tamarind as souring ingredients and jaggery for sweetening. Onion and garlic are sparingly used. Cuisine includes lots vegetables, lentils pumpkins and gourds and bamboo shoots. Coconut oil is the medium of cooking. Goan Christian cuisine consists of seafood, pork, beef and baked goods. Coconut, coconut oil, spices and vinegar are used in curries. Special food from this state are Vindaloo, Xacuti, Sorpotel, Sanna (variation of idly), Khatkhate, bebinca (rich layered sweet), feni. Sorpotel is a pork and mutton or beef curry cooked in vinegar and spices. It is served with bread or sanna, a variation of idly. Khatkhate is a Goan vegetable stew prepared during festivals by both the Hindus and Christians. Feni is a beverage prepared fermenting cashews or sap of toddy palms.
I been to Goa twice, once when I was very young, in 4 or 5th grade and do not remember much about the food. Last February when we went to Goa for my niece’s pre-wedding celebrations, we visited a seafood restaurant and I tell you, it is a must visit place if you happen to visit Goa, are foodie and love seafood. This place is called Marin’s Corner and apparently a very popular restaurant. Frequent customers are Amitabh Bachan, Sachin Tendulkar to name a few. The seafood I tasted here was the best seafood I has ever eaten. And no wonder all the celebrity keep revisiting this place. The college of seafood in the above picture is from Martin’s Corner.
Today’s treat from Goa is Chicken Xacuti pronounced shakuti. Xacuti is a curry prepared with lot of spices, poppy seeds and coconut. Since seafood is a staple in this state, I wanted to do a seafood dish but this chicken xacuti looked exotic and we totally loved. The first time I made it, we were not satisfied with the taste. But I felt I could tweak the recipe to suite our palate. And I was right. The second time I made we loved it. We enjoyed it despite it being fiery hot. We blew our noses, wiped the sweat beads on our foreheads and licked our fingers clean!
Adapted from: Sanjeev Kapoor, Goan Food and Goan Kitchen
Total Time: 25 – 35 minutes
Preparation: 10 – 15 minutes (this excludes time required to cut the chicken)
Cooking Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Serves: 2 – 3
Spice Level: Very Spicy
- 600 grams or 1.3 lbs. cleaned Chicken (I used ½ whole chicken cleaned and cut into desired size of pieces)
- 2 small Green Chilies
- ¼ cup chopped Cilantro ~ Coriander Leaves
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tbsp. Oil
- ¾ cup chopped Onion (¾ of a medium onion. Keep aside the remaining onion for the curry)
- 1/3 cup chopped Tomato
- ¼ cup shredded frozen Coconut (can use fresh coconut)
- 4 Garlic Cloves
Xacuti Powder (Curry was spicy. Check notes)
- 7 – 8 Dry Red Chilies
- ¾ tsp. Cumin Seeds ~ Jeera ~ Jilakara
- ½ – ¾ tsp. Fennel Seeds (I used ½ tsp.)
- 1 tbsp. Coriander Seeds
- 6 – 8 Black Peppercorns (I used 8)
- 1 tbsp. Poppy Seeds
- 2 – 4 Cloves (I used 4)
- 2 – 4 Cardamom I forgot check the camera
- 1 – 1 ½” Cinnamon Stick, broken into small pieces
- Pinch of Star Anise (I used ½ a petal from the star anise. Check notes)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped Dry Coconut
- 2 tbsp. Oil
- 1 small – medium sized Onion or ¾ cup chopped Onion (I used 1 small onion and the remaining ¼ onion from the masala paste)
- 1 – 1 ½ tsp. Ginger paste
- 1 ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 ¾ – 2 tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste. Check notes)
- 2 ¼ tsp. Tamarind Paste (I used homemade paste. Check notes)
- 1/8 – ¼ Nutmeg Powder
- Marination: Remove the skin and cut the chicken into small pieces. I cut it into 2” pieces. The quantity mentioned in the ingredient list is after cleaning and removing the skin.
Grind coriander leaves and green chilies with salt.
- Add this to chicken pieces and rub it to the chicken pieces. Marinate the chicken for ½ – 1 hour or for few hours in the fridge. I am a marinating freak and I marinated it for 4 hours and left it on countertop for ½ – 1 hour to bring it to the room temperature before cooking.
- Masala Paste: Heat a pan with 1 tbsp. of oil and sauté the onions listed under masala paste. Once the onions are light brown, add frozen or fresh coconut and fry for couple of minutes. Add tomatoes garlic and fry until tomatoes are soft and mushy. 5- 8 minute
- Cool the mixture and grind to fine paste. Use some water if required. I used about 1/8th cup of water. Keep the paste aside.
- Xacuti Powder: Dry roast all the ingredients listed under xacuti powder.
Cool and grind to fine powder. Keep the powder aside.
- Xacuti Curry: Heat oil in a sauce pan and sauté onions till brown. Add ginger and fry for a minute.
- Add marinated chicken and mix well. Reduce the flame to medium, cover and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken is lightly roasted.
- Add xacuti powder and mix well so that chicken is well coated with powder.
- Add masala paste, chili powder, salt and mix well. Fry for a minute or two.
- Add 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cup water and mix well. Check the consistency and add more water if required.
- Add tamarind paste and give it good stir.
- Increase the flame to medium high, cover and bring it to boil.
- Taste the curry and adjust salt & spices to taste. Add nutmeg powder and cook for 3 – 5 minutes are until the curry is done or until chicken is cooked. Chicken in the US cooks very fast and do not overcook the curry.
- Turn of the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or pav, Indian bread.
- The curry was very spicy and please adjust the spices to your spice tolerance level. In Xacuti Powder ingredient list, for some of the spices I gave a range of quantities and how much I used. For less spice, use the low end of the quantity range. For eg. I have 6-8 peppercorns listed for Xacuti powder. For a milder curry, use 6 peppercorns or less.
- I do not use star anise in my cooking and do not like the smell and flavor of it. I used it very sparingly to keep the recipe as original as possible. If you like this spice, than use 1/2 star anise or 3-4 petals. The first time I made xacuti, I used 1 petal, I think and we did not like the flavor. But it is just us.
- I used homemade tamarind paste. Can use pulp from a small ball size tamarind. Soak tamarind in water and extract the pulp.