A perfect weeknight dish, hariyali chicken or chicken hara masala, is a Pakistani classic that derives its flavor from cilantro, mint green chilies, garlic and ginger.
About This Recipe
I made hariyali chicken or chicken hara masala for the first time using Come Con Ella's wonderful recipe. Hara masala is a popular base for cooking in South Asia but it was rarely used in my household. It is vibrant and flavorful, providing a welcome respite from the heavier tomato-onion mixture that many Punjabi households rely on.
I came across the recipe again in Kausar Ahmed's book, The Karachi Kitchen. Her variation was a little different but also delicious. She incorporated the use of spring onion, and instead of using diced chicken, pounded boneless chicken breast into thin, even pieces. Poring through various recipes of this dish, I learned that like many other household classics, hara masala has several variations. Taking heart from that, I adapted both Mehrunnisa and Kausar's recipes, and created a hybrid version that, in my opinion, also works.
What is Hara Masala?
Hara masala drives its wonderful flavor from fresh ingredients - cilantro, mint, green chilies and sometimes, spring onions - rather than a complex blend of ground spices. The yogurt base softens the flavor while tenderizing the meat.
I would also like to add that hara masala is not solely used with yogurt. You will find many recipes that simply use the ground herbs and chilies as a marinade or cooking sauce.
The dish is perfect for sharing with friends or family who are new to South Asian food or those who find too many ground spices overwhelming. I find that it's versatile enough to be enjoyed with either roti or plain basmati rice. I would pair it with a drier vegetarian side, such as this patta gobi (fried cabbage) or Gujarati style aloo (spiced potatoes).
Hope you will enjoy this dish as much as I do! If you do, I would love it if you can leave a review.
- Cilantro: Big stems removed, roughly chopped and tightly packed.
- Mint: Big stems removed and tightly packed.
- Bird's eye chilies: I recommend 1-2 based on your preferred level of spice. If you can't find these, you can substitute them with serrano peppers.
- Full-fat yogurt
- Neutral oil: Any variety of neutral oil, such as avocado, canola or vegetable oil works well.
- Crushed garlic: Store bought is fine or make your own using a mortar and pestle or food processor.
- Boneless chicken: Any type of chicken fillet works well for this.
- Salt: I used table salt so just adjust based on taste and the variety of salt you are using.
- Crushed ginger: You can buy this at the store or make your own pulsing a roughly 1-inch piece of ginger in a food processor.
- Red chili flakes: I prefer these to ground red chili powder for a punchier taste.
How to Make It
Make Yogurt Sauce: Add cilantro, green chilies, mint and yogurt to a food processor and pulse until well-mixed.
Sear Chicken: Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan or skillet. Add crushed garlic and fry on low heat for roughly 30 seconds or until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add diced chicken, salt, crushed ginger and red chili flakes. Sear until no longer pink, roughly 2-5 minutes.
Add yogurt sauce: Lower heat and add the yogurt sauce. Stir until chicken is well-coated in the masala. Once it comes to a simmer, partially cover the saucepan with a lid, and let the hara masala bubble and chicken tenderize for roughly 10 minutes.
Boil out any excess liquid: Remove the lid and increase heat to high. Stir continuously to boil out any excess water and until the oil begins to separate from the sauce. Remove from heat and serve with chapati, naan or basmati rice.
Pakistani Style Hariyali Chicken Recipe
- 1 Medium-sized saucepan or skillet
- 1 Food processor
- ¾ cup cilantro roughly chopped and tightly packed
- ¼ cup mint tightly packed
- 1-2 bird's eye chilies
- 1 ½ cup full-fat yogurt lightly whisked
- ⅓ cup neutral oil canola/sunflower/vegetable
- 1 pound (~450 grams) boneless chicken diced
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 2 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Add cilantro, green chilies, mint and yogurt to a food processor and pulse until well-mixed
- Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan or skillet. Add crushed garlic and fry on low heat for roughly 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Increase heat to medium. Add diced chicken, salt, crushed ginger and red chili flakes. Sear until no longer pink, roughly 2-5 minutes.
- Lower heat and add the yogurt mixture. Stir until chicken is well-coated in the masala.
- Once it comes to a simmer, partially cover the saucepan with a lid, and let the hara masala bubble for roughly 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and increase heat to high. Stir continuously to boil out any excess water and until the oil begins to separate from the sauce.