Chittarnee (Sweet & Sour Chicken In Onion Sauce): A Delicious Recipe From The Baghdadi Jews Of India

I’m just stopping by the blog for a moment to give you one of my all time favorite recipes, from the Baghdadi Jews of India. Jews in India? Yes! In fact there have been Jewish communities in India since 76 CE, just after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, as well as Jews who later immigrated to India from other countries such as Iraq. The Sasson family are well know Baghdadi Jews from India. And I’m sure you’ve all heard of Vidal right? Just a fun fact that really has nothing to do with a chicken recipe…

I think this is one of those recipes that will be great no matter whether you follow the amounts exactly, or whether you have all the spices. And it freezes well! The main thing is to use lots of onions and it will be delicious!


* 2lbs (1kg) finely chopped onions
* 4 tblsp vegetable oil
* 2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
* 1 1/2 tsp ginger
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1 1/2 tsp coriander
* 3/4 tsp ground cardamon
* 2 bay leaves
* a good pinch of red chili powder or cayenne pepper (which I’ve never used)
* 1 chicken, cut into pieces (original recipe calls for 6 boneless and skinless fillets weighing 1 3/4lb (800gm) cut into smaller pieces, but I’ve never done that!)
* 1lb tomatoes, peeled and chopped or a 14oz (400gm) can of chopped tomatoes (to peel tomatoes, soak in boiling water until you can remove skins with your fingers)
* 2-3 tblsps wine vinegar
* 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste (I’ve never added the sugar)

Directions: Put the onions in a large pan with the oil and stir fry/cook gently with lid on until onions are soft and golden. This can take up to 1/2 hour. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and bay leaves and stir for 5 minutes. Put in the chicken pieces, season with salt, and saute for 10 minutes, such that they are lightly browned on both sides.

Now add the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, or 45 minutes to 1 hours if using pieces of a whole chicken. You want most of the excess liqued to evaporate leaving a nice gravy. Finally stir in the vinegar and sugar and cook 10 minutes more. Delicious served with rice.

Note: This recipe is courtesy of my favorite cookbook, Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food. An amazing encyclopedia/cookbook packed with many many recipes as well as the history of Jewish food around the world. Very fascinating, and highly recommended for those who love to “read” cookbooks and also cook from them!


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