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A wedding dish worthy of weeknight

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A wedding dish worthy of weeknight

By Zainab Shah, The New York Times

At a wedding function in Lahore, Pakistan, shimmering fabrics, bright colors, maximalist jewelry and glittering makeup form a dazzling display of aesthetic maximalism. Old grudges are set aside or permanently forgotten in favor of love and blessings. Everyone knows newlyweds will need both, and so everyone is invited — and fed.

The food served is a point of pride for the hosts. This is perhaps why chicken steam roast is almost always included as a main dish. So ubiquitous is its presence that it has come to be known as shadiyon wala steam roast — shadiyon wala means “of the weddings” in Urdu — and it may just be the best thing about a Lahori wedding after the bride.

The night before the function, or while elaborate tents are being assembled and chandeliers hung, chickens are quartered, scored and marinated in yogurt, ginger, garlic and spices (red chile, turmeric and cumin, with some variations). Large chicken pieces are slowly cooked in a heavy daig, a pomegranate-shaped metal pot the size of a large cauldron.

A night of marinating and then a couple of hours of slow steaming in the daig steeps the chicken with hefty, warm flavors from the spices and citrusy freshness from coriander, another seed common in desi cooking. A weight is placed on the lid of the daig so nothing is lost, not even a little bit of steam. The result: tender, succulent, delicately but thoroughly spiced meat that falls off the bone, making it easy to eat.

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