Chicken Curry for the Soul

A much delayed post, originally written in September. Somehow, every picture I’d taken to go with this post in the last month and a half got lost, and finally I had the chance to take another last night. Thanks, J! 

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My uncle told me that chicken curry is one of the most popularly searched items on Google…or was it ‘on the internet’? I didn’t find stats matching that exactly, but I did find that ‘chicken’ is, at present, one of the most searched for on Google in the food and drink category: http://www.google.com/insights/search/#cat=0-71&cmpt=q . And I enjoy cooking chicken curry, it’s the first non-vegetarian dish proper for which I came up with my own recipe and actually made. It’s a favourite with my friends and family, easy to cook in large quantities for large quantities of people – even with large appetites. It has both Bengali and North Indian influences, and is also light enough for a lazy weekend lunch with rice, some salad and beer (or not).

I cooked it for my parents when I visited them in September, and even my non-chicken eating Amma enjoyed the gravy. My 3-week holiday from work was excellent, by the way. I had a fantastic time eating with, and cooking for, people whom I love. (Now I am seriously considering procuring a mini-spice box to carry around in my bag – so I can cook anywhere, anytime, no matter whom I’m visiting! ) That apart, the best thing that happened was the realisation that my relationships with the people I really truly love are everything, and none of the rest of this noisy world really matters.It’s amazing what three weeks of cooking for and eating with ONLY your loved ones (and no one else at all) can do for the soul. I have healed a great deal, and am back and happy again, at peace after a long time.

So, back to chicken curry. This is how I do it usually (please remember to adjust the chilly-heat part of it according to taste and health), when feeding about 4-6 people:

1. Marinate 1 kg chicken (pieces with bone) in 2 tbsp dahi (yoghurt), and a tsp of haldi (turmeric) powder, red chilli powder & salt each – keep aside for up to half an hour

2. In a pressure cooker, heat 3-4 tbsp oil (any white oil or even mustard oil) and sputter some whole garam masala (black cardamom/badi elaichi, green cardamom/elaichi, cinammon, peppercorns, bay leaf/tejpatta, cloves/laung) and jeera.

3. Add 2 medium-large onions (sliced), 1 dried red chilly, 2 slit green chillies, 2 heaped tbsp of ginger-garlic paste – and fry it all for a couple of minutes, till the onions turn pinkish-transluscent.

4. Add 4 small tomatoes (chopped), 1/2 tsp kasoori methi, 1 tsp haldi powder, 1 tbsp of any chicken/meat masala (readymade), 2 heaped tsp salt (or  to taste), and again, mix and let it fry, covered, for 2-3 minutes/till the tomatoes turn mushy.

5. Shake the excess marinade off the chicken pieces and add to the masala, along with 4-5 potatoes (medium-large, halved lengthwise), and fry for 3-4 minutes. This ‘seals’ the meat, basically.

6. Add the remaining marination liquid, and 1.5 teacups of water, mix and put the lid of the pressure cooker on, whistle/weight and all. Let the whole lot cook on high heat until the first whistle goes, then turn the flame low. Turn off the flame after the second whistle goes.

7. Open the pressure cooker after the steam’s all subsided, throw on some dhania leaves, and serve with lemon wedges for people to squeeze over the curry when eating.

Enjoy cooking, eating and/or feeding others chicken curry, and feel its soothing effect on your soul 🙂

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