Monday, 28 October 2013

The red chicken

My mother doesn’t cook regularly. Her culinary expeditions are few and far between. But each of her culinary expeditions is a lip-smacking affair. But for a person who isn’t into regular cooking, her enthusiasm for learning new stuff and collecting new recipes is amazing.
       Now, my mother is a homemaker and the kind who has never looked for any gratification beyond her family, especially her kids – something about her I both admire and detest. But if that’s what made her happy, so be it. So, no matter how much we wanted it, she would never leave us alone at home when my brother and I were kids.  She didn’t go for movies, or meet friends or go shopping on her own, except... when she went for her cooking classes.Of course after ensuring we had someone to look after us, much to our disdain (and we stayed in a joint family, too many people doing the looking after).I remember how excited we were about those classes. One, because we could be home alone, and two, because she would bring back the tasting portions.
              And she has been to so many of these classes. She still has these stacks of exercise books of different colours scribbled full with recipes. And it’s amazing how these diaries and copies say so much about her. The earlier ones have impatience written all over them. Some have boredom written all over. Then there’s a phase when she is immaculate, her handwriting like pearls, and her recipes even have foot notes. Some have doodles, too. And there are those half written ones and ones with innumerable abbreviations which she says she couldn't remember to save her life. In fact, she couldn't remember those anymore the moment she had walked out of the class and hence had never tried those recipes.
          I love going through these recipes though and I owe my interest in cooking to these. I have never been to a cookery class myself, but I did put Maa’s efforts to good use. Nowadays, when I obsess about creating my own recipes and giving my twists to classics, I, at times, feel that she feels a little disappointed. She perhaps feels her collection of recipes will go to waste. But then that I can even start to think about tossing up my own concoctions of flavours is because of all the afternoons I have spent reading mums recipe diaries.
           The recipe I am sharing today is from one of her diaries. I do not remember though,  which one and hence can’t credit the particular person (one of Maa’s several culinary gurus) but I take no credit for it. This is one of the first things I made when I started cooking and this is one of my family favourites. The original name is lost in time we call it THE RED CHICKEN….CRAZY.



Chicken (boneless) - 1 kg
Tomatoes (bog) - 4-5
Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Gineger (julienne) - 2 tbsp
Whole red chillies - 6-7 (or depends how hot you like it)
Salt to taste
For spice mix
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 4 tbsp
Whole dry red chillies- 3-4
Dry roast the whole spices, add the fenugreek towards the end so that it doesn't burn. Grind and keep.

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and fry till its catching colour. 
  • Add the tomatoes and ginger julienne. Sprinkle some salt so the the tomatoes releases some juices and fry till oil separates.
  • Add the whole red chillies and the spice mix. 
  • Fry for a few more minutes or until oil separates. 
  • Add the chicken, adjust seasoning and cook on low heat, covered. 
  • Once chicken almost done, remove lid and cook on medium heat until the juices reduce and you have a thick gravy and the oil, a deadly red now, separates. 
  • Serve with Roti or a light Pulao. I love it with steamed rice.