Chicken Choyela

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Chicken Choyela is a popular chicken dish from Nepal usually eaten as an appetizer. 

chicken choyela

One of my best friend (Hi Nisha) has been encouraging me to feature more Nepali recipes with a step by step video tutorial. I don't know how I feel about video just yet because:  a) it's just too nerve wracking b) I need to learn how to record videos and edit  c) I am more comfortable writing than talking in front all of you, I think it's just awkward. I am slowly warming up to the idea but for now let's start with a Nepali recipe called 'choyela' that is a delicacy among Newari People.

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Choyela is typically made with water buffalo, goat, chicken, or pork by either roasting or boiling the meat and marinating with different spices. It is eaten as an appetizer like beaten rice (cheura), aloo ko achar (potato salad)chatamari (savory rice pancakes), and chana ko tarkari (brown chickpea salad). Like most traditional recipes, there are many variations depending upon who you talk to but I am sharing a simplified version that is made with a few ingredients mostly from your pantry and will come together in just about an hour.

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Boneless/skinless chicken breast is first grilled then chopped into bite size pieces. Alternatively, you can also boil the chicken. Since I prefer the taste of grilled and slightly charred chicken I used my grill pan for that.

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If you are not too fond of washing dishes, feel free to mix the remaining ingredients with the chicken in the same grill pan. Onion and tomatoes are first slightly sauteed then spices such as turmeric, cumin, red chili, ginger garlic paste, and green onions are liberally massaged into the chicken. One of the most important steps that I insist you don't miss is tempering because hot oil when mixed in with the whole spices such as fenugreek and chopped green chili, it extracts amazing flavors and adds to the final dish. Mustard oil is typically used while tempering for more authentic taste. chicken choyela3

After that liberally garnish the chicken choyela with chopped cilantro and it is ready to be served. It can be served either warm or room temperature. I find it tastes better when allowed to sit in for half an hour or so. chickenchoyela4

Even though choyela is not a traditional food at Brahmins household (caste I belong to) or not something my mom made while growing up, I am pretty pleased with the way it turned out. If you guys have an authentic recipe or any other variations, I'd love to hear about it but until then I will be sticking to this chicken choyela.

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Chicken choyela like I said is great for an appetizer and something that can be made in advance. It can also be eaten in the form of sandwich with bread or stuffed inside a pita pocket. So you if you have never had a taste of Nepali food before, this chicken choyela is definitely a great start. I am encouraging you all to try it soon.

Chicken Choyela
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoon cumin powder, divided
  • 1.5-2 tablespoon red chili powder, divided (use as per your taste)
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric, divided
  • 1 small knob ginger, minced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1.5-2 tablespoon neutral oil (or as needed)
  • salt, pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a grill pan to medium-high.
  2. In a bowl, place chicken and mix 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder, 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, salt, pepper with 1 tablespoon oil. Liberally massage the chicken until the spice mix is applied evenly.
  3. Grill the chicken 8-10 minutes on each sides or until it is no longer pink and has an internal temperature of 160F. The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the chicken though.
  4. Allow the chicken to cool for a little bit then chop it into bite size pieces.
  5. In the same pan, sautee onion for a minute then add tomatoes then let it cook for 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the chopped chicken, ginger garlic mix, chopped green onion, and remaining spices and massage it very well.
  7. For tempering - In a small frying pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil (mustard oil is preferred but I used canola oil). Fry fenugreek seeds and green chili until fragrant and starts to change the color to brown.
  8. Pour the tempered oil all over the chicken and mix everything again. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve when desired, warm, room temperature or cold.

Have you tried choyela before?

What are your thoughts on video recipes? Would you guys be interested?