Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Curry-inspired Chicken Stew : for those sick days!!!!

I have been eating plain boring food for the last few days as my stomach is not at its normal 'happy' mode. In the process of eating clean, I feel like my palate almost lost its taste buds. But enough is enough; I decided to prepare my mood elevating curry-inspired chicken stew. Whenever I am sick, mostly from fever, this dish has always helped me regain my lost appetite, big time!

And for the longest time, I thought I invented this recipe! Ha ha! Almost a decade ago, my father was recovering from a major accident and was advised by the doctors to include soups with meat and vegetables in his diet to help him recover his strength. I am going to be frank here, cooking was NOT something that I enjoyed back then. Around that time, my mom was trying to educate me on relatively tough recipes like chicken curry! One day, she bought home some chicken meat and asked me to prepare lunch while she took care of some chores. I, being the lazy one, did not want to prepare two separate chicken recipes, soup for my father and chicken curry for the rest of us. So, I just started to chop up some vegetables, heated up a little oil and began frying the chicken pieces. I was doing this in a wok (karahi), but the pressure cooker idly sitting nearby gave me an idea. I transferred the content to the pressure cooker, added the veggies, a bit of spices and fried for a little bit before putting the lid on. After 5-6 whistles in the cooker, my magic (;)) chicken was done. My sister LOVEd it and so did my parents. For the teenager in me it was a really big achievement; I was elated.

All these years, I have been thinking that I am the ONLY person who knows and prepares this recipe. I even used to boast about it in front of my friends who don't like to cook on a regular basis. How naive of me :) :) But in recent years, I have had the chance to try different versions of the same recipe by my many friends. All of the them are equally appetizing!

  • The recipe works best with meat from a spring chicken. I don't know the science behind it, but I believe the tender meat from a younger chicken blends much perfectly with the vegetables. Unfortunately, I have not been able to access such type of chicken here yet :(
  • The more the vegetable, the better. I put almost all vegetable I can find in my refrigerator. 
  • Pressure cooker is also necessary for this recipe, at least for me :) You can obviously use a wok, but in my mind, using pressure cooker I can save a lot of time.
  • The dish does not need a lot of spices. No need of Garam Masala as well.
  • Personally I love using a lot of black pepper and green chilies, but you can manage the level of spiciness you want. 
Ingredients: Chicken cut into small pieces, Bay Leaves, Whole Cumin, Red Dry Chilli, Onion (very less), Ginger-Garlic paste (same as in regular chicken curry), cumin powder (just a tiny bit), Green Chilies, Black Pepper, Carrot, Capsicum, Habanero Pepper, Tomato, Beans, Cilantro, Cauliflower, Cabbage. Vegetables are up to you; put anything of your choice :)

Let's discuss the recipe
  • Marinate chicken with a bit of turmeric and salt as needed. Spray little spritz of oil while marinating; it helps in preventing the chicken pieces from sticking to the cooker/pan during cooking.
  • Chop up the vegetables into small pieces.
  • Heat up the cooker; add oil (of your choice). Add bay leaves, red dry chilies and whole cumin to heated oil. 
  • Add cut onions, fry for some time before adding the chicken pieces.
  • Keep stirring, after 10-15 minutes add ginger garlic paste and fry for some more time.
  • Add the veggies and keep stirring :) just for few more minutes!
  • Add water, I like the consistency to be a bit runny. Put the lid on. I keep the heat on medium at this time and wait for 5-6 whistles.
  • You need to stay put for some more time before you can open the lid. Then, add the chopped cilantro as garnish.
  • I like to have it as soup before my meal and then as curry with it :)
  • The last step is to wash the pressure cooker, its going to look dirty with all the colorful spices ;) ;)
I cook this mostly when I am weak and not in "cooking" mood; the best thing is I don't have to be ultra-cautious about the chicken to get done properly, you just need to stir for some time and after 5-6 whistles in the cooker, everything is going get perfectly cooked! It can definitely be made in any pan or wok, but it will need a bit more time and care I guess! So long as I have my cooker, I am going to use it for this recipe and I don't mind the cleaning (my dishwasher takes care of that ;))

Hope it is easy enough for you as much as it was for me :)

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