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

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Subramaniam's Chicken, or the Theory of Everything

Beginner's chicken made me adventurous. I started inviting people home. But this was Madras, and there were Subramaniams. And Swaminathans. A meat-eating Tambram is as rare as a penguin in Sahara. So how could I entertain them? I devised my own means.

The idea is to take a cauliflower, fry it somewhat, and then treat it exactly the way I treat the chicken in my last recipe. And thats it. EXACTLY same. You even get the same reactions. Here, however, I am offering an alternative way to prepare it. In fact, you can make the chicken in the same way. These are equivalent.

First, cut up a large cauliflower into 1-inch pieces. Discard the stumps. Peel two potatoes, and cut them into pieces of similar size. One general tip: when you are making some sabji (vegetable curry), try to cut all the different vegetables into similar sizes. Add some salt and chiili powder. Fry them lightly in a small amount of oil. This step is a must for any cauliflower dish. Otherwise, the cauliflower gives out a certain boiled-veggie odour which many people do not like. But do not fry it until brown, then you lose the taste.

Take two onions and chop them finely. Fry them in three tablesppons of oil. After they turn yellow, add a teaspoon of salt. Keep frying. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric. Keep frying. Now add finely chopped ginger and garlic, or ginger-garlic paste. Keep frying for some time. Now add two finely chopped tomatoes or tomato puree now. Add two teaspoonfuls of chilli powder. After some time, add a tablespoon of chicken masala (vegetarians : not to worry - chicken masala does not contain chicken). Aagain, it does not matter much if you do not have chicken masala, just skip this step. Add curry leaves of you want. After sometime you will find that the oil is getting separated from the frying mix. You will now get the unmistakable masala smell. You basic mix is ready.

Now add the cauliflower and potatoes. With the spatula, move the mix to the right, left, inside out and upside down. Vigorously. 5 minutes. Now add a cup of beaten curd / yoghurt. You can even try my personal favourite, creme fraiche (or if you are risk-loving, mishti doi). Now keep playing with the mix for about 10 minutes. It will get boiled in its own juice. Wait till the juice almost dries up. Once the juice is drying up, there is a risk of the mix sticking to the pan. But it is now that the cauliflower is getting its taste, so keep churning it vigorously so that it does not stick. You will notice that it is now changing colour from yellow to brown. Add some ghee or butter and you are done.

This, in fact, is a general recipe for all-purpose vegetables. Make the masala mix, and add any vegetable to it. Add aloo, and you have aloo dum, add beans and you have beans masala, add everything and it becomes mixed veg. You can even make egg curry in this way. Again, never fails. Just that everything might taste similar. ;-)

Subbubhai, happy?