Chicken Curry the Lal Maas Way

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Cooking.  I didn’t know how to and I couldn’t be bothered to learn. My mother insisted I should at least learn the basics so I don’t ever have to be  totally dependent on takeaway and instant noodles; but since ours was a big family and all the ladies were great cooks, that argument, for me, didn’t hold merit. When I got married, my in laws were a little worried that I had no interest in cooking, luckily though they were nice enough and never actually said anything to me. Indian mothers are obsessed with feeding everyone, particularly their children, and obsessively their sons. I too am an Indian mother and I too have a son, whether I too become an obsessive “feeder” only time will tell.

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So as a newlywed, when I reached Mumbai and came to know that my husband already had a cook, I was beyond relieved. But then tragedy struck. Our cook met with a small accident, broke her arm, and would be ‘out of action’ for almost two months. TWO months! I frantically began to look for a replacement but alas, it was not to be.  While I was sitting there imagining my mother’s “I told you so” expression, I realized that finally, the day had come. I would just have to learn to cook something if we didn’t want to live on takeaway and maggi noodles for the next couple of months. So I hesitatingly told my husband I was going to try and cook. At this point, I couldn’t even make rice and had never peeled an onion, much less chopped one. So the husband turns around and offers to teach me. Oh! Did I mention he could cook? And cook quite well. The ego wasn’t responding very well to this but I didn’t exactly have options lined up so grudgingly I (and my ego) agreed.  I thought he would probably tell me how to make the basics like cooking something simple and safe, like maybe potatoes. Apparently he had other plans; with great enthusiasm, he said I’ll teach you how to make chicken curry. I obviously did go into shock but my ego had already taken a beating so I kept a straight face and asked him if he was serious. I mean who in their right mind would think of chicken as the first thing, to teach a vegetarian girl, to cook. But this was no joke; his logic was to teach me the most important thing (meat), the rest of the food groups just didn’t matter. So there we stood, in our little kitchen, a twenty something-just married couple, cooking this very chicken curry. The first thing I learnt to cook, from my husband.

 Like the lal maas, this too is my mother in laws recipe.

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Ingredients

  • Chicken- 500 grams (I used the leg and thigh cut) skinless, bone in.
  • Ghee or vegetable oil- 1/3 cup
  • Yogurt- ¾ cup
  • Onion- 1 (medium to large)
  • Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
  • Ginger paste- 1 tsp
  • Cumin- 2 tsp
  • Salt- 2 tsp (or to taste).
  • Red chilies- 2-3 (optional)
  • Fresh coriander- for garnish
  • Hot Water- 1 ½ cups
  • Powdered Spices
  • Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder- 2 tsp
  • Whole Spices
  • Dried Bay leaf- 1 large
  • Black cardamom- 1
  • Cinnamon stick- 1/2
  • Cloves- 4-5

Instructions

  • Peel the onion, cut into thin, even slices. Keep aside. Lightly whisk the yogurt, keep aside. Prepare the ginger and garlic paste, keep aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee/oil. Add the whole spices, then add the cumin and let it splutter.
  • Next, add the onion and fry till golden brown on a medium flame.
  • Once the onion turns a golden brown colour, add the chicken. To the chicken, add all the powdered spices along with the yogurt, salt and ginger and garlic paste. Simmer till all the liquids evaporate and the chicken pieces are coated with the thick yogurt-spice mixture.
  • Pour in the hot water and add the red chilies (if using).
  • Simmer till the chicken is cooked.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Notes

*Boneless chicken works just as well. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

*Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder, according to your level of heat tolerance.

*You can add more or less water, depending on the consistency of the curry you want. You will also have to adjust the salt accordingly.

*If this is something you’ll be making once in a while, do make it with ghee, there’s nothing like chicken cooked in ghee.

*You could reduce the amount of ghee/oil but do so at your own peril.

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