Friday, September 5, 2014

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/Fry preparation - Chicken "Sukha" cooked with coconut and spices

Kids are back to school again and a month long summer holidays are over here. This means now, I have some spare time to devote on this blog. When ever we talk about non-veggie preparations, always red color, oil drenching gravy springs to our mind. But that being told, not all the chicken or even meat  preparations are doused with red coloring and flavor incorporating Kashmiri red pepper powder or even “Ratan Jot” for instance, both known to give that distinct red colors to the meat gravies. Sometimes even carmalization of sugar also adds up to the final result. But then there are some recipes which are very earthy, getting that distinct color from grounded turmeric and other Indian spices. 

This dry stir/fry preparation – or known as “Sukha’ in Hindi is a classic example. This chicken preparation, as it looks might not be a visual delight or what ever way you want to put it, but it has a very satisfying flavor of hotness and sweetness  with just a hint of sourness. And I would like to repeat, not all gravies or preparations are red in color, doused with heavy use of cooking oil.
But to be honest I had this chicken   fish preparation for the first time, in one of our south Indian friend‘s home. And seeing that I felt it might be just another passing thing as it was not at all, let’s say appealing to eyes, but when I had my food portions in my mouth, I knew it “K’, a sweet and down to earth person who made this preparation, is a great cook. I somehow fell in love with the sweetness of coconut and hotness of the freshly churned spices. I immediately asked her recipe and she obliged me with that. She had made this preparation with firm boneless cat-fish nuggets; all the spices and procedure remain same except the use of chicken in this recipe. We have moved in our life and so is K and M, our friends, but these precious little things about them, are always with us and I hope some of ours have remained with them also. That other day we were remembering them and DH reminded me about that dry stir/fry fish preparation that K, M’s wife had made that day. Actually, I wanted to make a dry preparation of chicken for a long time, so when DH asked me about that recipe, I thought why not give a try with chicken instead of fish.

There is no guessing game in this, coconut, curry leaves, brown mustard seeds and Anar dana is part of this preparation, and I know she had added tamarind paste to the original recipe, but since I don’t keep tamarind in my pantry, I happen to substitute it with Anar dana/dried pomegranate seeds. Any other souring agent like aamchur powder can also be used. The basic guideline is just to add a hint of sourness, not overwhelming contents. And I do keep a good stock of jalapenos peppers these days, so I happen to add them quite frequently in these types of dry stir/fry preparations. Actually they do add nice hotness to this stir/fry preparation.
Now that you know the basic ingredients, will write the recipe. And remember not all the gravy or meat preparations are red in colour. Some even are subtle and perhaps have loads of texture and taste way better than those oil drenched, red color gravies.

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/fry – Sukha preparation with coconut and spices- South Indian Style
Recipe requirements
500 Gms of boneless chicken breast pieces cut into small bite size pieces
2 large purple onions
3-4 fat cloves garlic
½ inch fresh ginger root
½ cup of freshly scraped coconut or desiccated coconut
2-3 tbs of dried anardana/ dried pomegranate seeds
½ tsp of ajwain/carom seeds
2-3 cloves
2 black cardamoms
½ tsp of brown mustard seeds
Few cinnamon strands or cassia barks
2-3 jalapenos
3-4 rocket green chillies
Cumin powder- ¼ tsp
Coriander powder- 1 ½ tsp
Black pepper powder- 1 tsp
½ cup of Greek style yogurt
3-4 strands of curry leaves
½ tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 tbs of cooking oil or use as per required

Wash and clean chicken breast pieces. Pat them dry and prick with a fork all over and cut them into bite size pieces. Sprinkle salt also.
Make a paste of onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, rocket green chilies, coconut, dried pomegranate seeds and carom seeds. Add in yogurt and mix very well. Now marinate this paste with the chicken breast pieces and keep aside for 2-3 hrs in fridge. You can even do overnight marinating.
Heat up a saucepan/wok/kadai.Add in cooking oil. Add in mustard seeds, let it splutter.
Add in curry leaves. Add in cloves, cinnamon and black cardamom.
Add in marinated chicken pieces with whole of the spice paste. Keep on stir/fry for 15-20 mints, sprinkle very little water if it starts to stick up in the base.
Cover the content and let it cook at medium –low flame for about 30-35 mints or till the chicken pieces are soft and pale in color.
These same preparations can also be made with other seafood like- prawn and crab.
Vegetarian can use paneer and tofu in place of meat or chicken.
You can even make a quick wrap with this chicken preparation.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, August 29, 2014

Niramish Chana'r Dalna - a Very Basic Bengali recipe

We always play down the vegetarian way of cooking a recipe, thinking that it will turn out plain= fika ranna/cooking.But there are umpteen ways of making a particular recipe and even a simple “ranna” /cooking that one craves for after having rich and high calorie food intakes, can very well be soul soothing and rewarding. Hold on to your thoughts, I won’t be doing  Ayurvedic lectures in this post – lectures giving info about – “pitta” or “vaat” or kapha “ implanting ingredients or their serious advantages- disadvantages  over non-vegetarian foods. Let’s not complicate things over here and stick to basic and simple. My basic is when we are done of eating too many rounds of non-vegetarian foods, one should slow down and eat food cooked with few ingredients or do the “niramish way of making a recipe” sans onion/garlic or even ginger, and using bare minimum spices. 

Niramish Chana'r Dalna with Narkol and Dudh 

Well, when I start with “niramish ranna”, people immediately conclude it with “chana” or “paneer’or should I say “poneer!”….so here is niramish chanar dalna sans onion+garlic+ginger.Although; ginger can be used in any niramish ranna/vegetarian preparation.

I really don’t know where I have first eaten this “chana” preparation. As per my faint memories,perhaps it was when my “Bodo Thamma” my real grandmother’s elder sister made this recipe. Like all the ‘widowed Vaishnavs”, we have seen her live a very down-to-earth life. But strange as it may sound, nobody even forced her to do it. It was her way of connecting with her god. She had an aura of calmness in her ever glowing eyes.Our family respected her for that and used to listen to her wise words, guiding us just like a north star on a dark turmoiled night. Although, I was just a pre-teen kid then, when she passed away, but I have a very diminishing image of her till today in my mind. A strict follower of lord Krishna, she had her various restrictions- white and pure clothes, short-cut hair , no make-up, jewellery  etc.And then making things even complicated, she used to eat only twice a day. Now, I would refrain from giving any other information about her, as some things should remain personal. This type of paneer recipe was again made on a “Puja” day in our parent-in-laws home. Although I can’t recall what spices were added at that time exactly, but it was a very basic and simple “niramish chanar dalna”, not even ginger+tomatoes were used.
 I guess my only contribution is to add narkol-coconut to the above to make it somewhat sweetish at this point. Now coming to this recipe. 

Niramish Chana'r dalna - a Very basic recipe to please God

This preparation comes handy if you have paneer blocks and coconut- fresh or even desiccated one for that matter .The sweetness of coconut merges well with the homogeneity of milk and paneer.Some even use whey liquid in place of milk. Some even may say after reading this recipe- as –“poneer, narkol and dudh with gravy”, I would say go ahead, what ever makes you feel happy about it and try making it in your kitchen as well. But then remember the original source where you first read it. My purpose of sharing this recipe will perhaps be achieved.
Now to the recipe
Niramish Chanar Dalna 
Recipe requirements
200 Gms of paneer cut into cubes
2 medium size potatoes cut into cubes
½ cup of semi-skimmed milk
¼ cup of medium desiccated coconut or fresh scraped coconut
½ tbs of coriander powder
¼ tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
4-5 cloves
2-3 green cardamoms
2-3 dry red chilies
½ tsp of cumin seeds (optional)
3-4 tbs of cooking oil/sada tel
Since I have used ready-made “paneer” block available easily here, so there is no need of using the whey liquid for the gravy. Instead we will dilute semi-skimmed milk with water and add later.However if you want to use fresh “chana” and the whey liquid then make “chana” beforehand. My tip is to have a small box of citric acid in your pantry for that daily home-making of chana.Few pinches of citric acid and the fresh home made “chana “is easily done. Vinegar can also be used to curdle milk to get “Chana”.
Put a saucepan on heat.At medium flame, first fry the paneer cubes from each side in 2 tbs of cooking oil. Similarly you can fry potatoes cubes. For this recipe I generally don’t even fry the potatoes.take them out.
Add rest of the cooking oil; add in cloves, cardamoms, cumin seeds and dry red chilles.Fry them for about half a minute at medium low flame or till they just start to flare up.
Now add in fried potato cubes. Add in coriander powder and salt. Fry all for about 2-3 mints at medium flame.
Now add in fresh “narkol kora” /scraped coconut. In place of fresh narkol, one can use desiccated coconut as well.
Add in water to the ¼ cup of semi-skimmed milk to make it about 1 and half ½ cup of milk. Now add this to the above.
Let it cook for about 8-10 mints or till the potatoes turns soft. Add in fried paneer cubes and cover the saucepan and let it cook for 3-4 mints. Turn off the switch and let it rest in and also let paneer cubes soak up some gravy.
This is a lightest preparation of "niramish chanar dalna" and can be included as part of the “Bhog  Prasad”. However, if you want to jazz up further, then you may add ginger+cumin powder+ garam masala+tomatoes to the above.In place of sada Tel /Cooking oil , one can use pure desi ghee as well.

You may refer these recipes in net for the even more -spiced version of niramish chanar dalna- 

Since today is Ganesh Chaturthi ...So Gannapati Bappa Moorya ....Happy Ganesh Chaturthi everyone...

Happy Cooking Friends