I first had Atheli Chicken at a Parsi wedding that was catered by “aapri Tanaz Godiwala”. Atheli Chicken is different from the usual Salli Chicken that’s served at weddings. This one is not sweet and sour in flavour and also has very little gravy. It’s essentially marinated chicken cooked in its own juices. There’s just enough oily gravy for you to dip in your roti’s and the one I remember eating came with big wedges of potatoes that had soaked up all the marination – yummy, yum yum. If I were to pick one, I’d pick the Atheli Chicken over the Salli Chicken frankly.
Over the years I’ve had a few variations of this dish at dinner’s that I’ve been invited to as well and the only constant about all the Atheli Chicken I’ve had so far is that it never tastes the same. Everyone simply puts in whatever spices they believe go into the dish. Sometimes its a bit spicy, sometimes its a bit too tomato-ey. Sometimes it’s served with potatoes and other times they are woefully absent (a crime in Parsi land). So this past week when I was trying to search for a recipe to make this Parsi style marinated chicken at home, I had a really hard time trying to find something that would yield me a dish that was closest to what I have tried previously.
Luckily, I came across Dilshad Tampal (her dad is the Founder of the famous Tampal Caterers that used to once upon a time rule the roost when it came to wedding catering). Dilshad and her husband now run Parsilicious which I believe delivers across the city. She was happy to share the recipe with me but set the record straight that it was her dad who invented the dish – or at least introduced it as part of the typical Parsi wedding menu. When I asked her why her dad decided to call this ‘Atheli Chicken’, she promptly told me that her dad was always experimenting in the kitchen and always came up with the strangest (or most obvious) names for the ones that were successful.
I’ve tried a few versions of Atheli Chicken before, like this bacon wrapped one I made for letter B in the #AtoZChallenge but I have to say that this one below comes very close to the finger licking goodness I’ve had previously at weddings. This Atheli Chicken makes for a great stuffing in sandwiches and wraps so you can use it for that or if you’re missing your favourite restaurant in these strange times then you can also roast some vegetables with your chicken, plate it fancily and have it like that instead. Either way, I can guarantee you’re going to love it.
And, if you’re missing a spice or two don’t worry about it. The great thing about this dish is that no matter what you add, it’s still technically ‘Atheli’. P.S. A generous helping of ghee will go a long way in adding some richness to the dish (especially if you’re baking the chicken like I did).