For a while now, I’ve been thinking of compiling a family cookbook. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, since we are all scattered over the world, with a big chunk here in the U.S., some in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Bangladesh, where our family comes from.
Here are a few reasons for wanting to do this: I think it’s a great way to carry on the family culinary legacy to my generation and later, I’m hoping to get some fun family anecdotes out of it, and I want to be able to taste some old childhood food memories again.
Lucky Nani is my grandmother’s sister. Apparently this is my great-grandmother’s recipe, but we got it from Lucky Nani, so it’s getting her name on it!
Chicken roast isn’t what you think it is – a roasted chicken. It’s more of a spicy braised chicken dish made on the stovetop. There’s very little gravy, and the chicken should be tender.
The last time I had Lucky Nani’s chicken roast was in 2007, when we were visiting family in Bangladesh. Mr. Spice and I had gone to her flat for lunch and she had prepared a huge spread for the two of us. We had the chicken roast, fresh parathas, aloo chops, and all sorts of great home-cooked food.
I got the recipe for her chicken roast a couple years ago when my sister and I were visiting my dad’s sister in NJ and I happened to ask if she knew how to make it. Luckily she had managed to procure the recipe on a recent visit.
A couple weeks ago, I was having lunch with my friend Lopa and we were talking about how we felt like we didn’t know how to make old-school Bangladeshi recipes like the ones our moms and our relatives know how to make. We felt there were certain dishes that needed to be part of our repertoire. We agreed that chicken roast was one of these dishes, and that it was time to try out the recipe I had!
Lucky Nani’s Chicken Roast
8 chicken pieces (skinned)
1 tbsp. plain yogurt
2-3 tsp. ginger paste
Prick chicken pieces, mix rest of ingredients, combine and marinate.
1 onion, sliced
oil *I used a mix of butter and oil*
4 almonds, ground into paste (optional)*we skipped*
nutmeg & mace (tiny amounts)
Brown onion slices in oil, put aside.Take chicken pieces from part 1 and brown in same oil, put aside. Now put yogurt marinade, nutmeg, and mace to pan, add almond paste if using, combine thoroughly. Add chicken pieces back into pan. Add 2-3 cups water, cover, and cook until chicken is done.
Take the browned onion slices and mix with sugar, crushing with fingers and adding to chicken. Add salt to taste. Add raisins if desired. Make sure water dries up so that gravy coats pieces.
To be honest, we deviated a bit from the directions in part 2 and 3 — we just added the chicken and spices at once to the pan, since there wasn’t much of the marinade left. We also only used 1/2 cup of water, since we knew the chicken would release water. Before adding the water, we added a bit more yogurt and added the onions at this point, since our onions were more caramelized than browned. And we skipped the sugar and raisins.
Looking at the ingredient list, I was hoping the flavor wouldn’t be too delicate, since we were looking at mostly browned onions, a bit of ginger, salt, and teeny amounts of nutmeg and mace. We did add a sprinkle of garlic powder and some chili powder, just because old habits die hard and I felt the need to tweak a little.
The secret is definitely making sure the onions are well browned and to letting the chicken braise over low heat. After at least half an hour, this is what we were rewarded with:
What little gravy there was was thick, brown, and redolent of onions. The chicken was tender and cooked perfectly.
To go along with the chicken, we made a pullao and Lopa made her version of a green bean recipe her mom makes. I’m staying tuned for the recipe so that I can post it for you. Definitely one of my new favorite ways to eat green beans!
Thank you, Lucky Nani for the delicious chicken roast recipe! Now I just need to get my hands on some more family favorites!