This is the second post of my new series on party menus. For the first recipe, please see Mother's Day Cauliflower-Potato Fry. For the third recipe, see Parsee-Style Coconut and Cashewnut Rice. And for the fourth, see Strawberry Cheesecake
This recipe lends itself well as both a dry dish as well as a gravy dish. As I mentioned before, it's one of my mom's original recipes and one that she makes quite often. The only catch is that each time she makes it, and I ask her the recipe, it'll be different from the previous time as she just forgets how she made it before! So one fine day I decided to just write it down as she'd told me that day, once and for all, and that is the way I follow it ever since. I think the problem with even the most well-meaning mothers is:
- They never follow any measurements, everything is just a rough estimate, or as they say in Hindi, "andaaza".
- They keep changing the dish every time they make it, tweaking it, subtracting or adding ingredients-which makes it difficult to catch the recipe and replicate it!
- You can never quite make the dish as tasty as when your mom makes it, even when you have the exact recipe!
To serve 6
- Half kilo chicken (this is approximate for 6 people-it might be just enough if you have other dishes on the menu and also depends on the appetite of your guests, so obviously please adjust the amount of chicken and ingredients accordingly)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, cubed
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf or perinjeerakam)
- 4 cloves
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 4 tablespoons oil
- First off, in your spice grinder jar, just whizz together the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, peppercorns and fennel seeds, with a little water if necessary. This is just to combine everything well to a fine paste.
- In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and throw in the cloves, cinnamon and curry leaves.
- When the whole spices splutter and the curry leaves change color, tip the onions in and fry until they turn a light brown.
- Now add the tomatoes and green chillies and fry till the tomatoes become well-mashed.
- Now add the ground paste and fry till it changes color to a darker shade and the oil oozes out the sides (do all this on a low flame to avoid burning).
- You can add the chicken at this point, stirring to combine everything well. Let it fry well for about 5 minutes before you add enough water to just cover the top of the chicken pieces and close the lid.
- Put the weight on and after the first whistle, pressure cook on simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
- When cool, open and let it simmer and fry till the gravy dries out, adding a little more oil (if you want it semi-dry). If you want some gravy, just leave it as it is and serve hot.
Sometimes my mom used to dry-roast all the ingredients for the spice paste, without oil, and then grind them. If you have more time, you could do this. Adds a little more flavor to the dish!
You could also add cubed potatoes along with the chicken.
Those of you who are terrified of pressure cookers can still cook this using the open or closed pan method (this tip is obviously applicable for all the recipes on this blog that are cooked in a pressure cooker!)