In Hindi, the word ‘Hariyali’ means greenery, the colour of life, renewal, nature and energy. And the word perfectly captures the essence of Chicken Hariyali, an herb-based chicken dish, known for its healthy mix of vegetables and meat. Originally from Punjab, the dish is one of the hallmarks of Indian cuisine.
Chicken Hariyali is usually prepared using boneless chicken breast meat cooked in a rich and creamy sauce, pureed with ground spinach, cilantro and mint leaves. The dish is so healthy that it makes a grand entry into a leading sports cookbook written by marathoner Kate Percy, called Go Faster Food: Over 100 Energy-boosting Recipes for Runners, Cyclists, Swimmers and Rowers.
In the book, Percy describes Chicken Hariyali as low in fat and Glycaemic Index (GI), a measure that indicates the rate at which the carbohydrate in that food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. In other words, any food with low GI indicates that carbohydrate is digested slowly resulting in a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels. And Percy deems Chicken Hariyali fit as a general training diet.
“Unlike most creamy Indian curries, this one is pretty low fat, made with low-fat yoghurt and skinless chicken thighs. You just whiz up the sauce in a blender and cook it with chicken. The dish is also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants,” says Percy, whose best-selling recipe books and educational programmes are used by Olympians around the world.
Chicken Hariyali also contains ginger, a reliable source of minerals such as potassium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6, which not only acts as an anti-inflammatory and but also acts as a catalyst in muscle repair. “If you eat this with a good portion of basmati rice (brown or white) it should provide you with a healthy meal which helps towards endurance,” she adds.
The promise holds true for other ingredients as well. Mint is an excellent appetiser and promotes digestion, due to its characteristic aroma, which activates the saliva glands in our mouths as well as glands which secrete enzymes that facilitating digestion. On the other hand, Coriander has so many health benefits that an entire book can be written on it. Summarily, it’s a dish one can bet his or her running shoes on.
Chicken Hariyali may have a lot of contenders while competing for taste, but when it comes to health, this dish is as green as it gets.