I made 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 a vibrant, flavorful masala that provides a welcome respite from the heavier tomato-onion mixture that many Punjabi households rely on. The bhindi masala and karela sabzi are examples of recipes that incorporate the popular tomato-onion sauce as a base.
I came across the chicken hara masala 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, 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.
In this recipe, I go for a simple cilantro and green chilli mixture but you are welcome to use mint as well. My recommendation is to add ¼ cup roughy chopped mint leaves along with the cilantro and green chilies to the food processor when mixing in with the yogurt.
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 plained 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.
Chicken Hara Masala
- ¾ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 4 green chilies
- 1 ½ cup whole milk yogurt
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 lb. boneless chicken diced
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Add cilantro, green chilies and yogurt to a food processor and pulse till well-mixed
- Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add crushed garlic and fry on low heat for roughly 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Increase heat to medium. Add diced chicken and fry for roughly 1-2 minutes.
- Add salt, crushed ginger and red chili flakes. Raise heat to high and stir for another 2 – 3 minutes.
- Lower heat, add the cilantro and green chilli yogurt, and stir for another couple of minutes until chicken is well-coated in the masala.
- Partially cover the saucepan with a lid, and let the hara masala bubble and chicken tenderize for roughly 10 minutes.