Thursday, July 16, 2009

Simbalee Chickun

Looks like I am on the quest of "ek se anek". Same basic ingredients but wide variety of end products.
As with Dahi/Hung curd( refer earlier post), Chicken also lends itself to numerous preparations yes, even with the same ingredients like tamatar, pyaaz. Ever wondered why the dahi chicken that you make tastes so very different from your friends?
Whenever I think I have mastered all the possible ways of making chicken I discover yet another new way of making it with almost the same ingredients, with only a slight shift in that fine balance of ingredients.

The one I reproduce below is really quick and easy to prepare. Very few ingredients, very little chopping and unless you look closely the ingredients and the method sounds deceptively similar to the way most of us cook our chicken. But the elaichi powder( an unusual ingredient in non-vegetarin cooking, usually added either as mixed garam masala or as a whole spice) gives it a nice aroma, subtle flavor and authentic taste.

Elaichi Murg( A Sindhi Dish)

500 grams of chicken
1 finely chopped onion( though I tend to use two)
1 finely chopped tomato
Elaichi powder( freshly pounded): 1 tsp
Garam Masala: 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil: 1 tsp( if making on a non-stick, can avoid the oil completely)

  • Heat a non-stick pan and add a tsp of oil, add the onion and fry till they brown
  • Next add the chicken, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Add the tomatoes, 1/2 tsp elaichi powder and garam masala. Cover and cook for close to 10/15 minutes on low heat
  • Remove the lid( chicken would have left a lot of water), increase the heat and dry the dish( if you plan to have this with rotis as I did then I would suggest you leave a little bit of the water as gravy), sprinkle the remaining elaichi powder.
  • Serve hot.

Suggested accompaniment: Vegetable Pulao and Palak Raita. Goes equally well with rotis.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Of Starters and Dips....

As I have mentioned in a couple of my earlier posts, I dig starters and dips. There is something about those little nibbles, arranged daintily on toothpicks around the plate...picked up gently, twirled around in the dip and popped into the mouth...all the stages quite like a choreographed orchestra resulting in a gastronomical crescendo.

What is also amazing is that innumerable dips can be produced from some fairly basic and common place ingredients. My all time favorite is using hung curd/dahi as the base. I have tried several variations of it, mixed and matched the accompaniments. The result never fails to delight.

I share below some of the dips that I have tried in the recent past are:
  • Strawberry dip: Add pureed strawberry, black salt and a wee bit of sugar to hung curd, garnish with mint. Goes well with Salted Biscuits
  • Palak dip: Had this at a friend's place. Pureed and cooked spinach is added to hung curd. Add chat masala, bhuna jeera and salt to taste. She had served it with wafer( basic salted ones). Add some boiled american sweet corn, a dash of cheese and it would form a good canape topping
  • Mustard dip: Grind mustard, green chillies and a few pods of garlic to a fine paste. Add about a tablespoon of this to hung curd, add sugar( 1/4th of a tsp) and salt. I serve this with mustard potato( marinate boiled potato in a mustard curd marinade for a few hours, saute and serve along with the mustard dip). This dip would also go well as a topping for potato roundels, salted wafers, grilled prawns( lime juice, salt and pepper marinade) etc.
  • Basic hung curd dip: Add finely chopped garlic, finely chopped onions, finely chopped green chillies, sugar, salt, lime juice and pepper. This is typically seved with cucumber with skin/carrots or with sauted vegetables like mushroom, broccoli, carrots and beans.
  • Mango dip: I have made this with mayonnaise but I think it would do equally well with a hung curd base. Puree together two medium sized ripe mangoes, quarter cup of hung curd, quarter cup of chopped mint leaves, two tablespoons of pine nuts( expensive as an ingredient but add body to the dip and loads of taste). Then add salt and pepper to taste. You could serve this either on Krackjack/50-50 kind of bicuits or with cold cuts.
  • Mooli/Raddish Dip: Mooli Raitas are common, in fact a favorite of Lord Jagannath too( the original recipe being replaced by more fancier versions), this dip is actually an extension of the same. To hung curd add grated Mooli, Kashmiri red chilli powder, about a teaspoon full of Shah Jeera, salt to taste and you are done. Mooli has a strong, pungent taste so maybe one could use a combination of Mooli and gajar( carrots), would look more colourful too.
The best part about the dips is that you can serve them separately with the starters, use them as toppings, as fillings for salami/bread rolls, as sandwich spreads, even as a main course accompaniment with grilled chicken. So it is Dip! Dip! Dip! all the way....