old school chicken tarkari
June 4, 2008 in Uncategorized
It’s one of the first dishes we’re taught by our Indian mothers, and it’s often been said by our grannies that once this recipe is mastered, we’re ready to enter the homes of our in-laws.
While one’s marriageability is no longer measured by such culinary milestones, the chicken tarkari remains one of those quintessential dishes that has it’s place firmly bolstered to the Indian family’s dinner table.
It’s also one of the simplest dishes and a favourite fall-back for when you’ve exhausted all your options for the week’s menu.
The actual recipe ranges from family to family, but the basic steps, I believe, remain universal.
What follows is the method my mother’s taught me with small Saaleha-bastardizations for interest.
I used about five pieces of chicken fillet because I didn’t have a chopped up bird on hand.
Marinate the washed and cleaned chicken in ginger/garlic masala, red chili masala, crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt, a bit of ground dhana-jeeru and a sprinkling of coarse red chillies.
I can’t tell you what exactly went into the masalas I used, as they were given to me by my grandmother and mother-in-law. Once I am privy to such arcane knowledge, I shall blog it. In the meantime, some Indian-owned butchers and supermarkets do stock ready-made masalas or better yet, get some sweet old aunty to make some for you.
This pre-marination is purely out of personal taste. I know some people who add the chicken ‘naked’ to the pot and then proceed to dress with the masalas and spices.
Chop up your onions and sautée in ghee (clarified butter stuff) along with a cinnamon stick, some cloves, a ball or three of black pepper, cumin and a sprinkling of mustard seeds.
Once the onions are ready, toss in the chicken and mix it all up so that the onions cover the meat. Let cook for a bit and then add in some water to help the chicken along.
When adding the extra liquid, make little wells between the meat first and then pour. This is so you don’t ‘wash’ the masala off of the chicken pieces.
Once you find the ghee starts to rise to the surface of the liquid in the pot, add in some chopped tomatoes that have been sprinkled with more ground dhana-jeeru, a little salt and turmeric powder.
Allow tomatoes to settle on the meat for about a minute, then mix it all up and cook chicken to completion.
I like a thick gravy, so I allow most of the water to steam away before I serve.
Garnish with fresh dhana (coriander).
Serve with rice or roti. I opted for pita breads smeared with melted garlic butter.
Originally blogged here.