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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Chichen Salna (or Chicken Chalna)

Before I ventured into blogging, I was a total stranger when it came to South Indian cuisine. Ofcourse, there was the occasional dosa, idli, uttapam and the usual accompaniments like sambhar and chutney. But that is just about the tip of the iceberg. Everything was labelled 'South Indian' with no distinctions being made between regions like Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka and Kerela, leaving no scope or mention of the diversity that exists within each region.

But the exposure that I recieved over the last 5 years has truely transformed me.  Today I know what people mean when they say that food knows no language or barriers. Now when I prepare some of these dishes at home and enjoy them, I truly appreciate and admire the people who created them. Small details like why some cuisine uses an abundance of a particular ingredient or why a curry is so laden with spices and condiments become clear when you have more insight on the lives/culture of the people belonging to that particular region. For example, the very rich and aromatic Chettinad curries owe their origin to the opulent Chettiar traders who obviously had very deep pockets to be able to afford such luxury. But the Chicken Salna in contrast was meant for the working class people and hence the sparing use of spices, a
watery consistency and sometimes the use of potatoes to add volume. (The roadside stalls obviously do not use expensive poppy seeds or cashews to thicken the gravy but instead use thickening agents like besan/cornflour).

A few years back, I could only think of a Macher Jholo/Besara or a Mutton/Chicken Kasa/Jholo when I needed to cook for a Friday dinner or a Sunday lunch. But now my repertoire of non-vegetarian dishes has only been enriched by the addition of such delicacies. Hence I feel the need to share/blog such dishes as I believe that food would win hands down as the medium of national integration (but how do we sell such an idea to our politicos who are busy playing the caste/regional card ??). Read on the recipe for my version of the Chicken Salna:

















Preparation Time - 40 mins

Ingredients - 1/2 kg chicken cut into medium sized pieces, 1 large onion finely chopped, 1 small tomato finely chopped, 1 tsp GG paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 sprig curry leaves, 2 tbsp oil, salt to taste, fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.

For the masala paste - 5 shallots, 1 1/2 tbsp coriander roots, 1 green chilli, 4 tsp freshly grated coconut, 5-6 cashews + ( 3 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp poppy seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp peppercorns - to be dry roasted first )

Preparation - Wash and marinate the chicken pieces with salt and turmeric.

Heat a tawa or any flat bottomed vessel. Dry roast all the ingredients mentioned in the masala paste.
Allow to cool down. Transfer to a grinder cup. Grind into fine powder (as fine as possible).
Add the remaining ingredients of the masala paste along with 3-4 tsp water. Grind into a paste. (Add little more water if needed)

Cooking - Heat oil in a kadai. Add the curry leaves first and allow to crisp a bit. Then add onions and fry to a medium brown.

Add GG paste and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the marinated chicken along with chilli powder. Roast/Fry on a high flame for 4-5 minutes. Then lower flame and cover with lid till half cooked.

In the meantime, fry the tomato pieces with a little oil till it is completely mushy.

Add the cooked tomatoes to the chicken along with the masala paste. Mix well and fry on medium to high flame for 3-4 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and adjust salt. Cook on a simmer till chicken is completely cooked through.

Serve hot with parottas/rotis or even with white rice as I did.

















Note -  You can make the gravy still watery if you like, especially when having it with hot rice.


1 comment:

  1. Wow..this looks absolutely yummy and tempting dear :)

    ReplyDelete

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