As much as I want to apologise for neglecting this blog, I shall not cos I think I may just burst into tears if I start relating how little time I have to cook…much less do anything…these days. And fitful wails are not gonna help me much here. It shall suffice to let everyone know that my I’ve given my last day at work as 31st of July and that I’m gonna reclaim my kitchen the day after. Gosh, I dun think I ever wanna work if this is what its like.
But after a month of icky commuting on the train and putting up with coporate bullshit in the office, I finally had a perfect Sunday. I didn’t step out of my house at all today, except to go to the market in the morning. Talking to the friendly chicken stall uncle, rinsing stalks of fresh coriander, slicing violet-hued onions, and rolling out chapathis -all the while listening to old punjabi songs streaming from the radio- I hadn’t felt this alive and content in months.
And it helped that the coriander chicken curry I was making was a recipe from my tailor who’s from Bombay. She really is the sweetest lady and in the midst of tucking in the hems of my sari blouse she told me all about a chicken recipe that was famous in her homeland. How was I to resist the temptation of trying the dish out then? You know I love these pass-down-from-generation-to-generation recipes that are replete with personal anecdotes. I swear thers’ something special in the flavor of these foods, something that has nothing to do with the ingredients and all to do with the history behind the recipe, the people and circumstances that have made the dish what it is.
And the coriander chicken I cooked together was no different. Intensely flavored, it was like a sensory hit of the herb in every mouthful. And yet the taste was layered, thanks to the heady spice mix which also included coriander seeds. The heat of the dried seeds combined with the freshness of the leaves really lifted the taste of the gravy. And it was cool that it was green… so different from the normal red or brown associated with many an Indian curry. I accompanied it with freshly made chapathis, and to give it a little more substance as a sauce, I added a few tablespoons of cream even though it wasn’t called for it the recipe. Other than taking the unhealthiness factor up a few notches, it also gave the dish more of a North Indian flavor than I could hope for. Tucking into hot chapathis and tender chicken pieces coated in an aromatic gravy, this really was a Sunday badly needed.
1 stick cinnamon
3/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I bought it for 60cents, it came to about 10 sprigs)
5 green chillies, sliced into thirds
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized knob of ginger
2 onions, quartered
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 onions, sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp cream
1/2 kilo chicken, cut into large pieces
salt, as needed
-Roast the spices in a wok until fragrant. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Remove them to a plate and let cool. Grind in a spice/coffee grinder and set aside. This spice mix is also known as garam masala and it’s intoxicating. I kept on sticking my head into the grinder and inhaling for all it’s worth 🙂
Garam masala- my cocaine of choice
-Place quatered onions, coriander leaves (roughly torn up), sliced green chillies, garlic and ginger in blender and pulse until a smooth green masala paste forms. You may need to add about a 1/4- 1/2 cup of water to get the action going. Add in spice mix and chilli powder and blend for another 3 minutes. Pour the masala out into a bowl.
-Marinate the chicken pieces for an hour in a little masala, about 1/4 cup and reserve the rest.
-Heat 2 tablspoons of oil. Fry sliced until they are brown. Pour in the reserved green masala paste and cook for about 5 minutes until it turns darker. This ensures that all the spices are cooked and don’t give off a raw smell and taste.
-Throw in the quartered tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, covered. Place in the chicken pieces and cook for 20 minutes, covered, and for 5 without a lid or until the chicken is cooked.
Fresh, mindbogglingly ripe tomatoes- gives the gravy that requisite tang
-Lower the heat and stir in the cream if desired. Season with salt and serve hot with rice or chapathis.
A stack of freshly made chapathis- the perfect accompaniment to the perfect gravy on a perfect Sunday. aaah…life can be bliss.