Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Murg Kacchi Mirch ~ A lazy Saturday Brunch


I love cooking - the aroma of the spices,  the chopping, cutting, dicing, the delicious colors and lip smacking flavors - I pretty much love everything about it, minus doing the dishes of course.


My mom is an amazing cook, even my dad can cook fairly well, so it was au natural that I would also inherit the culinary genes from my parents. But till the time I was in school (i.e. 18 years) dad never let me go near the stove; so by then I didn't even know how to cook Maggi by myself. I used to think if someone could cook a dish in two minutes that would automatically qualify them to be excellent chefs.


Then during the engineering years I was put up in a hostel hence it was never required for me to cook anything. When other girls of my age were much capable of cooking up a storm in the kitchen and brag about it as well, I provided the necessary patient audience to their narration.


Work made me relocate to Mumbai and once again due to the blessings of the 'Dabba System' of Amchi Mumbai, I was spared the chance of venturing into the space of my apartment which was supposed to be the kitchen. The empty kitchen space, heavily neglected unless we had to fill water from the aquaguard, at times did make me feel sad for it. But I couldn't do much for it, rather the aunty in the 10th floor of my building didn't let me do anything. She was a fairly good cook and never did I feel the urge to test whether my cooking capability were better than hers.


You don't know whether you are good or bad at a certain thing unless you explore the in and out of it. And by the look of it, I had assumed that might be I will never be required to step into the unknown dungeons of cooking. And I was pretty happy at that.


But finally I had to.


On a fateful night when we moved in to our new apartment in Koperkhairne, I was greeted with the fact that there was no Dabba system available in that part of the town. I saw my room mate set up the kitchen enthusiastically. The first time I stood in front of the stove I was quite amused. The array of ingredients awaited my attention, the pots and pans lay ready to be picked up and the burner waited to be warmed up to the desired temperature to mark the beginning of my cooking journey. 


Minutes passed and the maximum I could do was to recognize some of the spices in front of me and stare blankly at the vegetable basket. Some more minutes passed and I concluded that food could not be cooked by mental vibrations alone, it required a recipe. I did exactly what I do when I need any kind of help - I rang up my mom.


An hour an a half later, I had in front of me a bright yellow mushy lump of food - my first try at making "Khichuri" (Khichdi or rice porridge).  With lot of anticipation I had a spoon of it and was rather surprised to know that it had turned out to be far more palatable than I had expected out of my first dish ever! Might be I was too hungry at that point, or might be it was just that you cannot self criticize your first attempt at anything new much - I was pretty happy at the outcome.


I remember Ma had said that if while cooking the color of the turmeric stays on your palms, it is said that the person can make a great cook. When I looked at my palms I indeed had some turmeric on it. I don't know whether she had told me that just to encourage me, but it did work for me.


While in Mumbai, I pretty much kept my cooking to the basics, never experimented or did any non-veg cooking. The first time I came to onsite,  I truly began exploring the unknown vistas that cooking could offer. I even bettered this on my second onsite trip. From the past one year I have been in Atlanta and the number of new dishes I have cooked far more exceeds the number of dishes I had ever cooked in the four years spent in Mumbai.


I can feel I am evolving as a cook and I wish to continue this journey forever. Creative Cooking can be as much gratifying as taking an amazing landscape picture  with a cokin f/8 filter or writing a novel of 400 odd pages - the fact is when you put your heart into something it can never come out wrong.


By now its very evident that I love to gab and I do tend to deflect from the core topic once I start to do so. So let's come back to the topic. This post was supposed to be about the Saturday brunch I had prepared for us. Good food and a good comics always helps me unwind.


The Food:
You must have heard people saying that one thing you can't go wrong with is Fish. I would like to add to that by saying, one thing you can't go wrong with if you are a amateur cook, is chicken.  Get yourself a packet of cut and cleaned chicken from any Supermarket and you are good to go! Whole chicken are much better taste wise, but if you don't have a good enough meat cutting knife don't got for it, you may land up in more soup than you intend to. You may also go for the organic chicken if you are a health conscious person, but be ready to loosen your pockets a bit, they are expensive than the normal ones. I usually prefer freshly skinned and cut chicken from the local store as they guarantee the 'freshness' of the cut meat.


I love to add curd in my non-veg dishes. The richness of flavor and ample creaminess it provides to the gravy can really make your food delectable. A Malyali friend of mine had once mentioned it to me that the combination of curd and meat is not good for health, but I failed to find any suitable evidences in favor of it.  Even if I would have, I definitely couldn't have left curd out of my cooking - that's how much I'm in love with it. 


The Recipe:
This particular preparation is pretty simple, easy on the tummy and yet quite yummy. You can try it out with both chicken or mutton. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 kg chicken thigh
  • 225 gm/ 1 cup of curd
  • 4 tsp Coriander( Dhaniya) powder
  • 3 tsp Cumin (Jeera) powder
  • 1.5 tsp Black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seed Powder(Mauri/ Sauf) powder/Everest meat Masala (The meat masala has fennel seed powder which serves the same purpose)
  • 150 gm/ 3/4 cup oil
  • 4 Cardamom pieces (Elaichi)
  • 4  Clove pieces (Laung)
  • 1" stick of cinnamon (Dalchini)
  • 250 gm Onion
  • 2 tbsp Ginger paste/ grated ginger
  • 4-5 Indian Green Chilli
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder/ paprika (Optional)
  • Salt as required
  • Sugar as per taste (Optional - Bengali's do tend to add a pinch of sugar to their gravy to maintain the tangy balance in the food)


Preparation:
Take out the curd in a bowl and add salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and pepper powder to it. Beat the curd into a fine uniform paste. Add a little water if the paste feels too thick.


Wash and clean the cut chicken thighs properly. Marinate the chicken with the curd paste for about half an hour. 


Slice the onion longitudinally and keep it aside. Grate the ginger finely and keep it aside as well. Always prefer fresh ginger to the bottled ginger paste. Bottled ginger paste contains preservative and the strong smell of vinegar which may result in killing the actual flavor of a dish. Slit the green chilies longitudinally. 


Wipe out the wok with a paper towel before putting it on the oven. Heat oil in the wok. Crush the cardamom, clove and cinnamon coarsely with a pestle beforehand. Crushing the whole spices enhances the flavor. When the oil is heated enough, add the crushed cardamom, clove and cinnamon to it. Once the flavor of the spices starts emanating, add the cut onions to it. Fry the onions until they are soft and assume the nice shade of golden brown.



While frying onions if you sprinkle some salt over it, the onion gets cooked faster  which saves gas and time. You can also add half a spoon of sugar to it. Sugar helps to bring color to the fried onion quickly as it caramelizes in the heat.


Once the onions are done, add the grated ginger and fry it for a few seconds.


Add the chicken marinade and saut├ę them till they turn a shade of light yellow. Keep the flame on medium-high, it will let the chicken to get cooked slowly infused with all the fragrances of the masala and curd. No need to add extra water while the chicken cooks, the curd will let off enough water for that.  Add red pepper powder for color, don't overdo it as it may render the gravy unnecessarily spicy.


Cover and cook till chicken is done. If you feel the gravy is becoming thicker, you may add water according to required consistency. 


Let the oil float over the gravy, it's an indication that both the meat and the gravy are well cooked. Now add the fennel seed powder/ meat masala to the curry. Let it mix  well before adding the green chilies.  Let the green chilies simmer in the curry for a few minutes. You can also cover the curry after putting the green chillies, so that the sharp flavor of the green chilies gets a chance to infuse evenly into the gravy and add the required jazz.


That's it, your Murg Kacchi Mirch is ready to be savored!


Note: This recipe doesn't contain any turmeric. The fried spices and onion give the necessary color to the gravy.


Side dish:
You may serve rice or roti (indian flatbread / wheat tortillas) with the chicken gravy. My personal favourite is steaming hot Basmati rice to go with it.


Serving:
Arrange the cut salad in the plate. Serve the steaming basmati rice on one side and lay the chicken gravy on the other side.  Garnish with freshly chopped corriender leaf. 

PS: Pardon the bad resolution of the pictures, they were taken under bad light conditions. Will try to take the next recipe pics in better light.




Hope you enjoy your Saturday Brunch. 


Next time I will be back with more recipes and stories to tell. 


Ciao!


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