Pallipalayam Chicken

It feels like I finally found my calling (in what to blog I mean). After doing my share (however miniscule) of the usual blog staples – red velvet cake, vanilla cupcake, eggless chocolate cakeand pasta in pesto sauce (hard to find a blog that doesn’t have these recipes) I discovered that I am deeply interested in Tamil cuisine. I mean truly interested, interested enough to study about it.  I can see myself sitting beside the Kezhavi (old lady) in her little village house making the Kari Kuzhambu nodding appreciatively, tasting a little and exclaiming “Hmmm.. Unbelievable, divine”. Like in those cooking shows where David Rocco drives to a dusty little village with kids running behind his car, and an old lady shows him how to make Kanji (gruel) while the celebrity chef makes a stylized salad of shallots and green chillies drizzled with vinegar to go with the Kanji. No, I don’t want to be on a show (not that anybody is asking). But I would really want the old lady to smile and share her Kari Kuzhambu recipe with me. I unashamedly ask for recipes wherever I go – waiters, marriage caterers, our canteen cook, long lost friends, moms and aayas of long lost friends, maid servant and complete strangers. But not everybody smiles and makes Kanji for me. They do for David Rocco. The old ladies used to smile for Chef Jacob too. I have a very high regard for him especially because of his efforts to research traditional Tamil food. His specialty restaurant on Khader Nawaz Khan road served wonderful Kongunadu specials but I didn’t have a chance to eat there while it was still open. The restaurant closed soon after his demise. I bought one of his cookbooks recently. This Pallipalayam chicken is from his cookbook.  Pallipalayam is a small town near Erode known more for this chicken fry than anything else. The recipe is amazingly simple. Just 3 ingredients – chicken, whole dry red chillies and garlic. I am obviously excluding salt, turmeric, oil and coriander leaves as otherwise it won’t be 3-ingredients. But the fact is – it’s minimal yet tasty. I loved it that the chicken was not rubbery or stringy even though I’d cooked it for nearly half an hour. It takes time for the chicken to soak up the chilli juices. So be patient and don’t add water or red chilli...
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