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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Offally Fun: Liver Chilli Fry

by Mango

I used to hate liver as a kid. But as an adult, I grew to tolerate it. And then, during a research sabbatical in Prague in 2010, I visited an old friend and his wife who prepared a local Czech dish of chicken livers stewed in a rich rosemary gravy, served with a side of crusty bread. I loved it. She kindly shared her recipe with me, and every time we've picked up chicken livers from the farmer's market, I've made her dish. This time though, I wanted to try something different, so I Googled liver recipes. A bunch of Indian spicy stir fry recipes (or chilli fry, as I'm used to calling it) popped up. I combined ingredients from reading some of these and the end result was delicious. Remember how I said Indian spices can overpower a dish? With chicken liver, that would be especially welcomed! Side note: a pound of chicken liver at the market cost us $2.97. Good for your wallet, and good for you. So, here are the ingredients:

Half a large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Grated ginger (about a teaspoon’s worth)
5 Thai green chillies, chopped (you can adjust accordingly based on your heat preference)
1 medium or large tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2  teaspoon garam masala 
A pinch sugar
Half a lemon
One pound of chicken livers
Oil and water as needed.

I forgot to include the tomatoes and lemon in this pic. Garam (hot) masala is a spice blend available in any Indian store or international market. The blend I used is my mom's homemade roasted version. My mom smuggles many an item into the country from overseas whenever she visits, whether I like it or not. A typical conversation with my mom before she visits from Dubai:

Mom: Shall I bring you some dried chillies and masala?
Mango: No mom, it's okay, thanks. I have Indian stores down the road from me and they have everything.
Mom: Okay, I'll bring it for you.
Mango: *Sigh*

I love her for it though. Anyhoo, fire up a pan on medium-high heat. Add a little oil and throw in onions, green chillies, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt. Fry until onions soften and start to brown, 5 minutes. Toss in tomatoes, stir, add in all of the black pepper, and half of the turmeric and half of the chilli powder. Stir fry for 5-10 minutes. Add a little oil or water as needed if it starts to dry out. 

While the onion and tomato base is frying (or prior to starting this dish!), prep the chicken livers. Rinse the livers thoroughly in cold water to get rid of excess blood. Trim fat and chop into bite-sized chunks.

Squeaky clean raw chicken livers after a good rinsing.

Trimming fat.
Add the ground pepper, generous pinch of salt, half of the turmeric and half of the chilli powder to the livers. Gently stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes. 

Move the fried onion and tomato base towards the pan's edges. Add a little oil to the pan's center and gently plop half of the chicken livers in the heated oil. Brown on both sides (about 1-2 minutes per side). 

Move the seared livers to the pan's edges and repeat the browning process with the remaining chicken livers. Then stir everything together, add the pinch of sugar, more salt if necessary, and continue to cook on high heat for further 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. I like to leave the livers a little tender and dark pink in the middle, but you can cook it to your preference of doneness. Turn off heat, squeeze half a lemon over the liver chilli fry and serve. 

We had it over brown rice with a side of veggies. I was pleasantly surprised by this dish, will definitely make it again. If liver grosses you out, I'd encourage you to give it a try at least once. It can be delicious, and it packs a number health benefits. And it's CHEAP!

Mango: It's ready for your belly!
Panda: I'm glad you made veggies too. My gastrointestinal tract thanks you. 
(*Note: he had a very different word choice for GI tract, but to keep things non-disgusting, it was omitted). 


  1. Very nice! Need to get Lori to eat more liver.

  2. Much like you, I didn't really have a big craving for liver when I was growing up. A few years back I was at Nandos (don't judge) here in Dubai and, on a whim, decided to try the Chicken Livers dish (as spicy as you could get)... I've been hooked ever since!

  3. Not going to work for me......still hate liver. Remember I still tasted it in the sopa...that dish you guys had a few months ago? With all that said, lovely blog accompanied by beautiful photos.