Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mamma's Cashew-nut Chicken

Sometime 2 years back, I asked my son who used to be a picky eater, what his favorite dish was. When I say picky eater, he was the kind of picky who would avoid all veggies, any kind of spice, anything that had a crunch, and anything that needed chewing for more than 5 seconds.
The only things he would eat were plain carbs (viz. pasta, rice, flat-breads) with some butter, chicken,  some fruits, and milk products (which I think,  probably kept him strong enough to say No to everything else!).
OK, So back to the story...He had been good and as a reward, I asked him what treat he would like and he surprised me by saying  my chicken curry. It never occurred to my own homesick Indian melancholic mind that he would actually develop a taste for something that was so distinctly Indian when he clearly preferred every food American. C'mon, this kid practically lived on pizza, burger, hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches!
I took to this new information in a big way; you could say as a sign from God that this kid still had a chance at understanding his culture, the food his parents grew up eating, his roots.
So I made this yummy chicken curry for dinner, with a big side salad and rice.
Did he eat it? Yes!
Did he make an overnight transformation, into a kid who is a perfect eater? No
Did he stay in love with Chicken Curry forever? Oh absolutely NO! (But, he is onto Cottage Cheese these days!)
All he did that day and many other days when I made this chicken curry for him was eat a couple more spoons of food than his usual intake, which I will gladly take any day!
But I will forever cherish this dish as the first thing my child said he liked and I made it for him. This was the dish which gave a troubled parent on the verge of a meltdown, a silver lining to hope, to recharge from and to remember fondly years from now.


1 whole chicken or any bone-in pieces of chicken cut into medium pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp each of crushed Red Chile and Coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric and salt

1 One " piece Cinnamon
4-5 cloves
2 Green cardamom- crushed
1 piece star anise

2 large onions sliced thin
4 large Roma tomatoes, chopped finely
1 tbsp of ginger and garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp Dry Fenugreek Leaves (Kasoori Methi)

Tomato Ketchup--1 tbsp
Cashew-nuts- ground into a fine paste with a few drops of water--about 2 tbsp

1 tbsp oil/ butter + more to brown the chicken
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp heavy cream

Rinse the cut, cleaned chicken pieces and pat them dry. Mix together the lemon juice, yogurt, coriander, chili powder, turmeric and salt and throw in the chicken pieces. Stir gently until each piece is coated.
* For those who doesn't like the whitish appearance of chicken, you can add red food coloring for that "restaurant feel".*
 Marinate in refrigerator for 30 mins.

Fry the whole spices in about 1 tbsp of oil/ butter, until they are lightly brown and aromatic.
Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the ginger-garlic mince and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for another 3-4 minutes on med-high heat.
Remove from fire; let it cool.

Meanwhile in a fry pan, heat a little oil/ butter and brown the chicken pieces. Do it in batches if necessary. Drain in paper towels.

Grind the fried spice-onion-tomato mixture, in a cup of water. The mixture should be kind of thick. Add another cup of water. Bring it to a boil in a pan and throw in the browned chicken pieces. Cover and let simmer for 30 mins.
Add the fenugreek leaves, cashew nut paste and ketchup. Stir well and cook until desired consistency is reached.
Stir in a tbsp of cream.

Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro leaves.
Serve hot over steamed rice or with your favorite flat-breads.

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