As a culinary arts instructor, I’m excited to introduce you to Xacuti (pronounced “sha-koo-tee”), a traditional Goan dish originating from the Indian state of Goa. Xacuti is a rich and flavorful curry that features a unique blend of spices and flavors, highlighting the region’s Portuguese influence and local Indian culinary traditions. This dish typically features chicken, though other proteins like lamb, beef, or even tofu can be used. The key to Xacuti is its complex spice blend, which includes ingredients like Kashmiri red chilies, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise, among others.
Recipe for Chicken Xacuti:
- 2 lbs (900g) chicken, cut into pieces
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 cups grated fresh coconut
- 4-5 whole Kashmiri red chilies (or mild dried red chilies)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 4 cloves
- 1-inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
- Water, as needed
- Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
- To prepare the spice blend, dry roast the Kashmiri red chilies, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom, black cardamom (if using), and star anise in a pan over low heat. Stir frequently and roast until the spices become fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the spices to cool.
- Once the spices have cooled, grind them to a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the ground turmeric and nutmeg to the spice blend, and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the grated coconut and roasted spice blend with 1/4 cup of water, and blend to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until they become soft and golden, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomato to the pan and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the tomato has softened.
- Add the coconut-spice paste to the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is aromatic and the oil starts to separate from the paste.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pan and stir well to coat them with the spice mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors.
- Add enough water to the pan to barely cover the chicken, and stir in the tamarind paste and salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the curry simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Once the chicken is cooked, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice or your choice of Indian bread