Thought I could add some spice to your life...

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Beginner's Chicken

After a month of struggling with boiled potato, I discovered Chicken. The good thing about chicke is that it is very difficult to go wrong with it. I am putting down what I used to do in my very early days with chicken. Even now I use this recipe most of the time, with some variation. The only major ingredient you require for this one is a lot of patience.

Cut 2 lb ( 900 gms) chicken into small pieces. Good if it is boneless, does not matter otherwise. Add to that a cup and a half of beaten curd / yoghurt to make the marinate mix. (You can get a very interesting variant if you use sweet curd (mishti Doi). Add one tablespoon of oil. In the mixer, make a paste of two large red onions and two tomatoes, and add it to the mix. Add to it one table spoon of salt, one table spoon of chilli powder and three tablespoons of chicken masala. You can get Everest or any other Masala in any Indian shop. If you have ginger garlic paste, add it too. Otherwise, add three cloves of garlic and a small piece of ginger to the mixer when you make the onion-tomato paste. This, too, is kind of optional. If you do not have chicken masala, no problem. However, then make sure you add the ginger and garlic. Mix the marinate well and let it stay for about an hour.

Add three table spoons of oil to the frying pan. When it gets heated up, slowly add the marinated mix, and start frying. Use the spatula to churn the pieces. Keep churning. Do not add water. It will start boiling after sometime when juices will come out of the chicken. Let the juices dry up. Once it starts drying up, you will find that the chicken is slowly changing its colour to light brown. Keep churning now to ensure that it does not stick to the botom of the pan. After it comes to a point where it will get stuck unless you churn it vigorously, add two cups of water. Let it boil. It is now that the Chicken is getting its taste. By now, the chicken pieces will have disintegrated into almost a paste-like consistency. Once this mixture almost dries up, you are done. Add some butter or ghee before turning the oven off.

If you do not have a mixer, there is some work to be done. Its the usual fare though. Cut the onions into very small pieces, and fry till golden. Add half a tablespoon of salt, same amount of chilli powder. Add the ginger and garlic if you have them (small pieces if you do not have the paste). By this time, you should have cut the tomatoes too into small pieces. You can use diced tomato or puree instead. Now add the tomato, and fry. Now add a teaspoon of the chicken masala (if you have it). Keep frying until you get a the onion and tomato mix, and almost become a paste. Then add the chicken. You can also try cutting two to three potatoes (size of the pieces should be equal to the size of the chicken pieces), and add them with the chicken.

The chicken is ready. This method has never failed me, and will never fail you. All the best.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Aloo Seddho (Boiled potato):

For a long time, I took my food for granted. Never realised what it took my mom to make all that which sustained me and made me what I am.
It was only when I started living alone and had to worry about how to make (or buy, but economics tells you that resources are always limited) what to eat to live that I had an appreciation of all the pain, effort and love that goes into every dish, every day.
The first day I bought a kilo of rice, a kilo of salt a kilo of ghee and a kilo of potatoes, and lived on Aloo seddho for about a month thereafter. Alooseddho still remains a favourite, and I have kept on working on it.

Take a potato, boil it, peel it, mash it and eat it with ghee and salt. If you peel it an cut it into smaller pieces before boiling, the cooking process will be faster.
If you want to try a "dry boil", wrap the potato (with peel) in three wet paper towels and microwave on high for 7 minutes. Do not overdo this, the potato might burn.

While mashing, add a generous helping of butter/ghee. Add salt. Try adding some fried jeera (cumin) powder. For a more Bengalee taste, add some mustard oil. Do not forget to add chopped green chillies. You can add chopped onions too. But if I have onions, I chop them, fry them separately with kala jeera (kalaunji) till they assume a light golden colour and then add it to the mash. Another thing that really lends flavour to the mash is some chaat masala.

For the adventurous
If you have some mango pickle (I prefer to use mango thokku pickle), add pickle oil - not the picked mango though. This not only gives a slightly tangy taste and a flavour, it also gives a nice colour to the mash. But do not overdo this, only half a spoon is enough for two large potatoes. Another version is to boil some eggs hard (# of eggs = # of potatoes), then mix the eggs with the mash.

The good thing about these above options is that you can use none, or any or ALL of them. Mash it well, ensure that there are no lumps of semi-boiled potatoes.

Thats the closest approximation to manna that you get.