Coconut and poppy seed chicken curry

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...

Chicken Tikka Masala – Punjab special

I love the Punjabi food ideology – whole milk, full fat, heavy cream. These guys really know how to eat. Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, chicken tikka, kebabs, shahi paneer, Rabri, Batoora, Kulfi – Cream, butter, Ghee, paneer their food is rich and lip-smacking. This is not to say they don’t make healthy everyday stuff which they do, but those don’t interest me as much as these cream and butter loaded goodies do. Most Tandoori dishes originated from the former undivided Punjab. Most restaurants carry many of these Punjabi dishes, proof of their universal appeal. The chicken tikka masala and butter chicken masala are legends. The tandoori roti deserves a life-time achievement award.Among the most successful of all my state-wise recipe experiments and the most enjoyed one was this Chicken Tikka Masala. Chicken tikka masala has perfectly spiced chicken that is grilled and folded into a creamy, delicious onion-tomato based curry, laced with cream and butter.  Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular british curries and I forget the number but several tonnes of it are sold every week. CTM as it is fondly called, although a recent adaptation, it is very much a Punjabi dish. I adapted Madhur Jaffrey’s chicken Tikka masala recipe from her book “Curry Nation” using her marinade as is but changing the curry slightly. It is a winner, no doubt. You can safely try this for the first time for a party without worrying about how it’ll turn out. It is perfect. But be mindful while grilling the chicken as it is very easy to overcook them. Vegetarians, just switch paneer for the chicken and you have the wonderful paneer tikka masala. Just as delicious. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 40 minsServes: 4 Ingredients – Marinade Chicken – ½ kilo boneless pieces cut into small chunksGinger-Garlic paste – 2 tbspFresh cream – 4 tbspLemon juice – 1 tspKashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tspCumin powder – 1 tspGaram Masala – 1 tspGhee/Melted butter – 2 tspSalt as necessary Ingredients – Curry paste Onions – 2 medium chopped roughlyTomatoes – 2 medium chopped roughlyGreen chillies – 2 roughly choppedGinger – 1 inch pieceGarlic – 4 clovesCinnamon stick – 1 inch piece Ingredients – Curry Yogurt – ¼ cupKashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tspGaram Masala – 1 tspCumin powder – 1 tspSalt as necessaryButter – 2 tbspOil – 1 tbspSugar – ½ tspFresh cream –...

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Goa although I didn’t taste Vindaloo when I went to Goa a couple of years ago. I did taste a Goan fish curry which was quite remarkable too. This month being the statewise blogging marathon month, I and my fellow blogging marathoners will be posting a dish from each of the Indian states – one state a day. Today it’s Goa. Vindaloo was originally a Portuguese curry made out of pork marinated in wine. We ingenious Indians substituted chicken for pork and vinegar for the wine and included potatoes for good measure. So the Vindaloo of today is very much an Indian curry – hot, spicy and lip-smacking. I am always game for new ways to cook chicken and Chicken Vindaloo sounded just about perfect. I used the recipe from steamykitchen. I found that the curry tastes even better with rice than rotis. You’ll have to start a day early though. The chicken needs to marinate overnight for the Vindaloo. The Vindaloo was quite sour from all that vinegar and I thought it could do with a bit more heat. But a vindaloo is not a vindaloo without the vinegar. So don’t skip the vinegar if you’re making vindaloo. If you do, don’t call it a vindaloo.  Goa is a nice place, I loved their markets. They sell really cute shorts, pretty hats and beautiful coloured glass lamp hangers. I wasn’t as enthusiastic of the beaches as the beaches were crowded and hot (don’t know if it was the wrong time of year) and I’ve experienced enough of hot, crowded beaches right here in Chennai. I really wish I’d tasted more of their local cuisine which is actually my number one agenda when visiting any place. Number 2 is of course shopping. The next time I am in Goa, I am going to have to taste their Vindaloo and Bebinca, no excuses. Prep time: 15 minsMarinating time: OvernightCooking time: 30 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken – 750 gmPotatoes – 2 medium cubedOnions – 2 large chopped fineOil – 2 tbspCumin seeds – ½ tspMustard seeds – ½ tspWater – ½ cupSalt to taste Marinade Vinegar – ¼ cupWhole Red chillies – 15 soaked in the ¼ cup vinegarGarlic cloves – 10Ginger – 3 inch piece chopped roughly Dry spice Mix Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceCloves – 5Cardamom – 3Cumin – ¾ tspMethi/Fenugreek seeds –...

Chicken Rendang – Malaysian Chicken curry

I am now squinting through my puffed up, watery, half sized eyes as I write this post. I’ve caught Madras Eye (conjunctivitis) and a whole lot of other things on the side as well. Fever, horribly painful sore throat and chills in the evening. I’ve not felt this weak and sick in a long time. I’ve returned to work today after 2 days of sick leave (the only nice thing about this whole sickness thing, I got to  spend a lot of time with Hasini and Yuvi) and I feel slightly better than the past few days. I’d wanted to post this Chicken Rendang right after Pongal because Chicken rendang uses whole turmeric and turmeric leaves and during Pongal we use these turmeric plants (the leaves and all) in the pooja.  And it is only during this time of the year that I’ve seen them in markets in Chennai. They may be available at other times, I don’t know. If they are, then you should definitely try this recipe for Chicken Rendang. I noted this down from the “Taste off” show on TLC the rare day when I fought off Jagan and the kids for the TV remote. Actually I think the kids were asleep that day and Jagan was on his phone. Anyways, I got a rare chance to watch a cookery show and me being a sucker for curries, I noted this down as soon as I saw it. I made this right after Pongal but never got around to posting this. The Rendang made a wonderful side with parotta – fresh, spicy and flavourful. I used the fresh turmeric sparingly as fresh whole turmeric is extremely pungent. You could break up a small piece of it and check. The original recipe called for much more if I remember right but I wasn’t taking chances. You’ll be using the leaves as well. The turmeric leaves are not as strong as say the lemon leaves you use in the Thai curries but they add a mild flavour. You could chop up those turmeric leaves and drop a few of them while the curry is simmering to turn up the flavour some more. You’ll be seeing a lot more delayed, postponed un-seasonal, in-appropriate recipes in the coming days as I catch up with my blogging. Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Chicken – half a kilo...

Simple Chicken Curry

 Free Photography lesson here to use non-shiny/matte plates for your food photos! Chicken is like potatoes. Delicious however you make it and there are innumerable ways you can make them (Chicken and potatoes). This chicken curry is simple, smooth and finger-licking good. It goes beautifully with rice, roti or chappathi. Since I started cooking seriously I’ve started paying attention to the little details. Most curries have onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic but how you use these in your curry makes a lot of difference to how the final curry tastes. You could just fry onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic paste, you can grind them all raw and use them, you can fry them and then grind them before incorporating them in the curry (which is what I do in this recipe), you can blanch, puree and then add them in.. and so on. Now there’ll be folks who’ll say it’s all the same. But serious foodies, people who are passionate about their food will know that each one tastes different however subtly so. I can’t say between a Toyota Fortuner and an Outlander. Jagan goes freaking wild if I say both seem the same (like JKB in in Sindhu Bairavi). But I really don’t mind if people don’t appreciate the nuances in the food as long as they enjoy what I cook. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 3-4 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kiloOnions – 2 large choppedTomatoes – 2 large choppedGinger – 2 inch piece scraped and choppedGarlic – 7 cloves peeledGreen chillies – 4Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp.Turmeric powder – ¾ tspSalt to tasteOil – 4 tbsp Method 1.      Wash and clean chicken. 2.      To a kadai add 2 tbsp oil and when hot add the chopped onions. Fry till they turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and fry till they turn soft. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic and fry till the green chillies are scorched and the garlic browned in places. Transfer the fried ingredients to a mixer. Let cool slightly. Grind to a smooth paste. 3.      To the same kadai add the remaining tbsp. of oil and the chicken. Fry till the chicken turns white. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, the ground paste and salt. Mix well. Cover and simmer till the chicken is cooked through and the oil has separated – about 15-20 minutes. Uncover, give a stir. Switch off....

Thai Red Curry

You’ll want this one. This is the best Thai red curry out there and this recipe is absolutely fail-proof and you don’t have to import Kaffir lime or Galangal ginger from Thailand. You have my guarantee. What’s my guarantee? If it doesn’t turn out good, you can come here to my blog and swear/complain all you want and I wouldn’t retaliate. But you really wouldn’t have to. Just follow the recipe and don’t skip any of the ingredients and you’ll be on your way to a stunning restaurant grade Thai red curry. I say this with confidence because I’ve messed up before and spectacularly. I’ve not been to Thailand and I don’t know if Thai red curry is different there. I am talking about the Thai red curry in good Thai restaurants (Benjarong, Lotus and the likes) here. So purists who cannot tolerate substitutions, this may not be for you. I love a good substitution and this curry has a few beautifully apt substitutions. For those new to Thai cuisine, Thai red curry is a beautiful, aromatic curry (could be vegetarian or non-vegetarian) that is traditionally served with long grained steamed rice. The crux of the red curry is the red curry paste which is fried and then simmered in coconut milk. The ingredients that go into this curry paste are plain beautiful. We’re familiar with most of these flavours in Indian cooking but not in this combination or intensity. Lemon leaves, coriander root (or stems, the stuff we discard usually) fresh ginger.. Can you imagine how divine this must smell? The guy who thought of this combination is a genius. If you didn’t make out by now, I am a huge fan of Thai cuisine and I am not the type who orders the same thing every-time I go to a restaurant (I like to experiment, screw up), but with Thai food, it’s always Thai red curry for me.      I followed my instincts this time and didn’t follow any one recipe but combined and edited a few recipes (which among others includes a Goodfood magazine recipe and a Nita Mehta recipe) to arrive at my Thai red curry recipe. If you do have Kaffir lime, galangal ginger and birds eye chillies (cute looking little red chillies) by all means use them. I’ve listed both the original and the substitutes below so that you can use whatever you have...

Spicy Ground Coconut Chicken curry

The marinated chicken in this curry turned out so soft and juicy that even the kids loved this curry. Even Yuvi who usually turns away from spicy food, enjoyed this chicken. The curry was thick, fragrant and flavourful and the chicken had soaked up the wonderful fresh flavours. The chicken was as flavourful as the curry unlike many restaurant curries where the chicken is stringy and bland, a stranger to the curry it sits in. This dish was actually an accident. We had originally planned to barbecue the chicken for which I prepared the marinade. But then Jagan (my husband) changed his mind at the last moment and wanted a curry instead. So marinated chicken it had to be for this curry. I am happy I did it this way. In fact, I think I’d even go as far as to say, marinate the chicken first irrespective of what you’re going to do with it. But marinate sensibly according to the dish you’re going to make. And there’s something about lemon juice however little you may use, it adds a lovely citrusy freshness to the dish. The chicken is marinated in a fresh ginger-garlic-green chilli marinade seasoned with red chilli powder and lemon juice. The marinated chicken is cooked in a ground coconut masala which gives the curry nice body and a wonderful aroma. We had this curry with Chappathis and it was a hit combination. Prep time: 10 mins + 30 mins marinating time Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 5 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kilo cleaned and cut into bite size piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 choppedCloves – 3Cinnamon – 1 inch stickCardamom – 1Oil – 2 tbspWater as necessary Ground Masala Grated Coconut – 3/4 cupFried Gram dal/Pottu Kadalai – 2 tbspFennel seeds/Sombu/Saunf – 1 tspWhole dry red chillies – 3-4Cardamom – 1Cinnamon – 1 inch stick Marinade Ginger – 2 inch piece peeled and roughly choppedGarlic – 6 cloves peeledGreen chillies – 3 chopped roughlyLemon juice – 1 tsp (from half a lemon)Red chilli powder – 2 tbspSalt to taste Method 1.      Clean chicken well and cut into bite sized pieces. 2.      Grind together the ingredients listed under marinade except red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice to a fine paste. In a bowl, dump the ground marinade, add lemon juice, chilli powder and salt and mix well. Throw in the chicken pieces and...

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