I turn down the fan speed to the lowest possible. I’ve not switched on the AC in weeks. Hindu’s pages are filled with kutchery schedules and concert reviews. Garden fresh green peas, mochai and double beans call out to me from the vegetable market on Mambalam Station road. Sundari silks and GRT Jewellers are already handing out their 2015 calendars along with sarees and jimkis. I am craving hot, spicy curries, some rice and a not too sweet dessert (which I probably do all year round). Winter must really be here in Chennai.
Which also means December is here. More importantly November is gone (did I really have to say that? please grit your teeth if you have to, but stay with me. I am on to something here) and with that Hasini’s 5th birthday as well. After twisting myself into crouching tiger and hidden dragon positions (Hiyah! Oo! AaaI) frosting a single barbie cake, running out of frosting midway through making barbie’s skirt (as expected), starting over again making frosting, colouring and then finishing in a haze of neck pain and back ache, I am ready to give my readers some invaluable “What not to do” advice while making a barbie cake. I’ll save that for another day though. The point is I managed to PLAN, prep, prep and prep some more (I prepped like mad), cook, bake, decorate, take a bath before Hasini’s friends arrived, make conversation with my friends (and not really worry about the empty chutney bowl. That’s kind of hard for me) and pick up the dirty plates and glasses before my feet gave way. One more birthday party up my sleeve or rather – down my back. Oucch!
I lounged around the entire weekend after the party. I had to. I felt I had to. Fought for the remote, argued with kids over Chota Bheem vs movie, watched about 10 half movies on TV (I am never able to catch one full movie from start to finish these days),ate mochai kottai kuzhambu, vazhakkai bajjis (Amma samayal), slept, ate out, came home and went to bed early.
On to the season special, I ain’t making no pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes ‘cos my maamiyaar is always putting the parangikai (read pumpkin) in the kootu and the potato in the thokku (although I’d really like to give the pumpkin pie a shot).
My winter special dish which I happen to make all year round is this smooth, rich and spicy chicken curry. I love to ladle this curry on to some steamed rice or scoop up with some fresh off the stove chappathis. Simple, warm and homey. And so easy to make. You’ll love it too.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Chicken – ¼ kilo
Onion – 1 large chopped fine
Tomato – 1 large chopped fine
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Bay leaf – 1
Oil – 2 tbsp
Ghee or butter – 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves – a handful chopped
Ingredients – Masala Paste
Ginger – 1 inch piece scraped
Garlic – 4 pods
Green chillies – 3
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – ¾ cup
Cashews – 4 soaked in 1 tbsp milk for 15 minutes
1. Clean and rinse chicken well. Pat dry and set aside in a bowl.
2. Grind together all ingredients listed under masala paste. Add a tablespoon of milk or water to help along. Grind to a smooth paste. Dump this paste on top of the chicken. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt and mix well so that the chicken is nicely coated in the masala. Set aside for 1 hour.
3. To a kadai, add 2 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, add the cinnamon and bay leaf and wait till the fragrance hits you. Then add the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and fry further till the tomatoes turn soft.
4. Dump the marinated chicken along with all the marinade into the kadai. Pour about a cup of water. Mix well. Let it come to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes (Open and stir around every 5 minutes to avoid the masala sticking to the bottom). Chicken should be cooked through now and oil should have separated. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes or so.
5. Stir in the ghee or butter. Switch off. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chappathis or rice.