Friday, November 6, 2015

Rainy Day Chicken

I was going through my drafts and came across this nearly-forgotten post I had written when I was in Delhi in June this year. Decided to post it anyway. Tomorrow I'm making a day-trip to Shillong to check out the Indigenuous Terra Madre Festival.The description from their website:Terra Madre is an organization that brings together those players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity.
It will be interesting to be a part of this bio-diversity fair with so many delegates from across  the world showcasing their wares. Can't wait to get there. The drive will take us a little more than three hours. On to my Rainy day Chicken now....

It was partly sunny and partly cloudy this morning here in Delhi but as I set about making this dish, it started to drizzle. How apt I thought. I wasn't planning to call my dish Rainy Day Chicken. After all it's a simple stew but the memories of having this dish always takes me back to my childhood. I grew up in the town of Haflong where during the months of February and March, the weather would turn for the worse with howling winds and pouring rain. The sound of rain was heightened when the rain and hail stones hit our tin roof. Sometimes the ground would have thousands of hailstones. I haven't seen such a sight in a long time.
On such days, my mother would make this stew. Everything would be thrown together into a large pot with either chicken (free range) or pork pieces. At times, smoked pork was also used. Most of the vegetables would be from our large garden. So whereas the vegetables I add are mainly bought, my mother would cook with the freshest vegetables she (and all of us) harvested from the garden. Potatoes, carrots, peas, varieties of leafy greens, squash/chayote would be washed/peeled/cut before heading for the cauldron. Garlic, ginger, a few chillies, onions, (small onions were left whole) salt and pepper were the other ingredients. As for the garnish whatever herbs were in season were used. Even with such few ingredients, this remains one of my favourite stews. I only made a few variations and there's certainly no need for measurements here.

Ingredients:
Chicken pieces
Potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered
Beans...string them, remove the two ends and tear off into similar lengths
Carrots, roughly diced
Shelled peas
Tomatoes (optional)
Chopped onion
Crushed garlic
Grated ginger
Coarsely grated pepper
Green chillies (optional)
Salt to taste
Olive oil
Pinch of turmeric
Pinch of roasted and ground cumin
Herbs for the garnish

Heat the oil in a pan. Throw in the chopped onions and fry till translucent.
Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes. Then add the ginger and garlic.
Add the potatoes and carrots along with a pinch of turmeric powder.
Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped green chillies, if using.
Add water and keep it covered stirring from time to time.
If you want to add leafy greens, now is the time.
Add the tomatoes and peas. Cook till the vegetables and the chicken are done.
There should be enough gravy for the rice.
Remove from the flame. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped herbs.
You could also use half and half of stock and half of water. But it still tastes good this way.
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