Chicken with Mustard Greens/ Lai Xaak
And so, I am on vacation. Here, at my parents’ house in Guwahati. Let’s skip the part where I am super tensed about an upcoming report that I am currently working on. Yes, office work. Oh, did I just say that I am on vacation? Boo-hahaha.
Anyways, what I have decided is that whatever comes up, I shall NOT miss out on all that I had planned these long months. I will NOT go home regretting that I did not do this or go there or eat that. In fact, I am just back from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary which is located in Mayong, the epicentre of (black) magic and I had a very good mind to cast an amazing spell over my boss for making me go through this difficult time. Oops I said that aloud.
Okay, I think I feel a bit better after letting this out. So, ask me what I have been gorging on these days. Home grown fresh vegetables and luscious winter greens! My dad’s kitchen garden is stock full of my favourite leafy greens – mustard greens or lai xaak (in Assamese), to be precise. In fact, the day I had booked my tickets for home, I had called him up and ordered him to get the greens ready by the time I visit Guwahati. He had done exactly that.
A little about lai xaak before we proceed to the recipe. I thought it might be the same as sarson saag, but I was wrong there. I was watching Highway On My Plate a few months back and the guys had come across a similar leafy vegetable in Himachal Pradesh where the hotel owner had called it ‘rye ke patte’. It looked just like our lai xaak and the way Rocky described its taste, it might be very well our own greens. Now, mention lai xaak to any North-eastern guy and the first thing he would say is, it tastes amazing with pork. So says my husband. But my dad abhors pork and hence, we generally cook it with chicken. Yes, I know, it’s not the same thing, but it is still amazing.
I must say that my pictures turned out pretty bad while the dish tasted effortlessly great. But let me invite you to partake of a typical Assamese dish – Chicken with Mustard Greens/ Lai Xaak. Enjoy!
Chicken with Mustard Greens/ Lai Xaak (fresh plucked from dad’s garden)
½ kg chicken, cut into medium sized pieces
2 onions, finely chopped
3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 teaspoon fresh ginger-garlic paste
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
A bunch of mustard greens, torn (by hand) to shreds
Salt to taste
Mustard oil for cooking
Marinate the chicken pieces in turmeric powder and ginger-garlic paste for around an hour. While marinating, drizzle a tablespoon of mustard oil and mix well. I so love that aroma!
Now, heat a little oil in a kadai or wok and let the mustard seeds splutter. Tip in the chopped onions, 1 green chilli and the cumin powder (if you opt for it). Once the onion turns translucent, add the marinated chicken pieces and cook covered till done. Season with salt.
Now, add the roughly torn mustard greens and the remaining green chillies to the cooked chicken and let them wilt. Take care not to overcook the greens. I personally prefer to retain the water released by the wilting greens although you may let it evaporate if you want your chicken dish to be dry. The thin broth is just too divine in my opinion!
So, your chicken in mustard greens in ready!
Enjoy the pepperiness of lai xaak, take in its aroma and indulge in a nutritious Assamese winter dish! For me, I can’t wait to visit home next winter!