Goan Chicken Cafreal Recipe – a Portuguêse inspired Goan chicken cooked in a paste made from fresh coriander leaves and spices. Add potatoes to make it even more wholesome and serve with a side of crusty bread.
We all have that one special dish we truly love – the one we look for in every restaurant menu, we judge the standards of restaurants based on how well they make it. And you wonder, why everyone around you, doesn’t quite get why it’s a big deal. But you don’t really care. Chicken Cafreal is that to me – and so much more! Hands down, the best thing the Portuguese rule brought to Goa. It is rustic, spicy and flavorful all at the same time. Growing up, most of our family dinners meant eating North Indian (Mughlai) or Chinese food, largely because we ate Goan food at home all the time, and dinner outings would mean eating anything but that. But when I went to college, and started experimenting with food, with friends who stayed in hostels and weren’t of Goan origin, we used to find shacks that would serve great Goan fare.
And it was during this time, that my fascination for Chicken Cafreal really started. So much so that, I actually picked my engagement party venue because of how much I love the Cafreal they make. And after the madness of all the celebrations, all I actually ate that night was the Cafreal! So much for love 🙂
Once I started cooking regularly at home, I began my search for the perfect Cafreal recipe. But it wasn’t easy to find. I’ve made many variants to this – too spicy, too much coriander, too tangy – the works! So the recipe I share with you today, is actually a culmination of quite a few of these recipes, into making it how I like it. Another thing, I add the fried potato into the Cafreal instead of serving them on the side – the flavors of the marinade really complement it perfectly!
Note: If you can’t marinate overnight, try to save some leftovers – the taste of the dish really elevates the next day. You’ll thank me! Also, Chicken Cafreal can make a great sandwich filling. Just shred the chicken and add the onions and potatoes in a Pao ( Goan bread) or even a Ciabatta/Panini etc. Some grated cheese on top will be heavenly.
Goan Chicken Cafreal
- 500 gms chicken (preferably use thighs with bone in)
- 2 Potatoes (chopped lengthwise like wedges)
- 2 Onions (sliced into rings)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp raw brown sugar
Marinade (Grind to Paste):
- 4 green chillies
- 1 bunch coriander leaves
- 1 tsp fresh ginger paste
- 1 tsp fresh garlic paste
- 7-10 Peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (whole)
- 1 tsp turmeric Powder
- 1.5 tsp tamarind paste
- 2 tsp tsp vinegar
- to taste salt
Once the chicken is cleaned, add slits on it that would ensure the marinade paste permeates nicely.
Ingredients listed under marinade to be ground to a fine paste. Ideally, marinate and store the chicken and potatoes overnight. If in a rush, marinate and set aside in the fridge for an hour.
Pan- sear the potatoes (remove all excess spice paste) with a mix of butter and oil. Ensure they seared on both sides and then cover to cook until 90% of the way done.
In the same pan, add butter. Once it starts to melt, add the chicken thighs on the pan and let them cook in the butter. Do not cover the pan. The chicken needs to cook quickly and brown.
Once the chicken has browned on both sides, cover and cook until 90% done.
Then add the remaining marinade, potatoes, onion rings, salt and sugar. Adjust salt as necessary.