Cook the Books: Chicken Curry/ Αυθεντικό ινδικό κοτόπουλο κάρυ

Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, based in exotic Hawaii,  chose an equally exotic book for Cook the Books, our bi-monthly reading and cooking club: Madhur Jaffrey’s Climbing the Mango Trees.

When the book was first announced, I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t know who Madhur Jaffrey was and had to look it up. I think that in Greece many of the anglophone personalities of cooking are not well known, not even Julia Child.

Climbing the Mango Trees is Jaffrey’s autobiography from her birth up until her late teens, when she left India for drama school in London.The stories Jaffrey tells us about her life are very exciting and really kept my interest up for the first 50 pages. Born in a wealthy family in Delhi, Jaffrey lived a childhood most of us have never even dreamt of, with servants packing family picnics, grand gatherings and the opulence of the life upper classes enjoyed in far away India. However, the way she writes soon became monotonous and I really had to struggle to finish the book.

I am not one to judge people’s writing, especially in a language not my own, but it was as if Jaffrey was intentionally keeping a distance from her reader. I didn’t manage to sympathize with her, or any of the characters that played an important part in her life. Even the way she talked about food was, I thought, a little bit weak. But then again, I also had troubles with Arhudhati Roy’s, God of Small Things,  so perhaps I can’t connect with the Indian psyche.

Which is a shame really, as I feel Greeks and Indians do have a lot in common, especially in their love for food and family. Indian food was one of the first ever ethnic cuisines I tasted and loved it instantly. At least the version one finds in English restaurants, with the thick sauces, fluffy naan bread, and tacky decor.

The recipes at the back of Climbing the Mango Trees looked really enticing, and I decided to try the chicken curry, as it is a staple in every Indian restaurant. I was intrigued by the use of whole spices instead of the more common powdered “masala” and since I had all the ingredients at hand I set off to bring Delhi into my kitchen.

Thickened by yoghurt, onions, and garlic, this curry is relatively light in calories, although it feels and looks substantial. It made the whole kitchen smell delicious and tasted completely different from what I used to have in England. It is also easy to make and does not contain weird spices. I actually had all the ingredients, apart from the fresh ginger, already at hand. I would definitely make this curry again, so in the end it was worth reading the book!

If you like to read and cook  join us for our next book which will be Bill Buford’s HEAT, An Amateur’s adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta maker and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany. You can read the guidelines here . Deadline is Friday December 3rd.

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Η πολύ αυθεντική συνταγή για κοτόπουλο κάρυ που σας δίνω σήμερα προέρχεται από την αυτοβιογραφία της Madhur Jaffrey, Climbing the Mango Trees. H Jaffrey είναι πολύ γνωστή Ινδή ηθοποιός και συγγραφέας βραβευμένων βιβλίων μαγειρικής. Το βιβλίο της δεν μου άρεσε και τόσο, παρόλο που περιγράφει πολύ εξωτικά επεισόδια της ζωής της στην Ινδία του ’30 και ’40, αλλά οι συνταγές στο πίσω μέρος του ήταν όλες μία και μία.

Το κάρυ αυτό έχει την ιδιαιτερότητα πως δεν γίνεται με σκόνη μασάλα, όπως τα περισσότερα που δοκιμάζουμε στα εστιατόρια, αλλά με ολόκληρα τα μπαχαρικά τα οποία, κατά την Ινδικη παράδοση ρίχνονται στο καυτό λάδι για να απελευθερώσουν όλα τους τα αρωματικά συστατικά. Είναι επίσης ελαφρύ θερμιδικά φαγητό, αφού τη σάλτσα την πήζει γιαούρτι (μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε και 2% ), κρεμμύδι και σκόρδο. Το τελικό αποτέλεσμα είναι ένα άκρως αρωματικό φαγητό, που θα σας ταξιδέψει με τον πιο νόστιμο τρόπο στην μακρυνή αυτή χώρα με την τόσο πλούσια κουλτούρα.

Ta σκεύη της φωτογράφησης είναι ευγενική χορηγία του Decorate Life, Κώστα Βάρναλη 42, Ν. Ερυθραία.

Bimla’s Chicken Curry

(from Madhur Jaffrey’s book Climbing the Mango Trees)

INGREDIENTS for 4-6 people

  • 1 large whole chicken (at least 1.5kg), skinned and cut into portions, legs divided into drumsticks and thighs, breasts cut in half.
  • 3 large onions
  • 20 cloves of garlic (I used only 3, as I cannot easily digest garlic)
  • 7.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 2x 5cm long cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 14 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder (or 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1/2 tsp good quality paprika)
  • 350ml thick yoghurt (I used Greek style)
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the onions into a blender, add the garlic and ginger and blend until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and put in the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Ten seconds later add the onion paste and the chilli powder.
  3. Turn the heat to medium and stir-fry for about 10 minutes until the paste has turned a nice golden colour. Whenever it feels to stick add a little bit of water and stir it in.
  4. Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time and again add a bit of water if they stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. When all the chicken has been added stir in the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time and stir in as you did with the water. When the sauce sticks add yoghurt and stir it in. Do this for about 10 minutes. When you are left with half the yoghurt add it all in and stir it around. Add the salt, cover and let it simmer for about another 10 minutes stirring now and then.
  6. Uncover and remove from heat once the sauce is thick and clinging to the chicken.

Αυθεντικό Κοτόπουλο Κάρυ

(από το βιβλίο της Madhur Jaffrey, Climbing the Mango Trees)

ΥΛΙΚΑ για for 4-6 άτομα

  • 1 μεγάλο ολόκληρο κοτόπουλο κομμένο σε μικρές μερίδες (τα πόδια σε δύο κομμάτια τα στήθη σε τέσσερα), χωρίς πέτσα
  • 3 μεγάλα κρεμμύδια
  • 20 σκελίδες σκόρδο (εγώ χρησιμοποίησα μόνο 3 γιατί δεν το αντέχω το πολύ σκόρδο)
  • ένα κομμάτι φρέσκο τζίντζερ περ. 7.5 εκατοστά, ξεφλουδισμένο και ψιλοκομμένο
  • 6 κ.σ. ελαιόλαδο ή άλλο φυτικό λάδι
  • 8 πράσινα σποράκια κάρδαμο (γνωστό και ως κακουλέ)
  • 2 ξυλαράκια κανέλας
  • 8 γαρύφαλα
  • 14 κόκκους πιπέρι
  • 1/2 κ.γ. πιπέρι καγιέν και 1/2 κ.γ. πάπρικα
  • 350μλ γιαούρτι στραγγιστό
  • αλάτι

ΕΚΤΕΛΕΣΗ

  1. Βάλτε τα κρεμμύδια, το σκόρδο και το τζίντζερ στο μπλέντερ και κάντε τα έναν πηχτό πολτό.
  2. Ζεστάνετε το λάδι σε μια μεγάλη κατσαρόλα και προσθέστε το κάρδαμο, τα ξύλα κανέλας, τα γαρύφαλλα και το πιπέρι. Δέκα δευτερόλεπτα αργότερα ρίξτε και το κρεμμύδι, το πιπέρι καγιέν και την πάπρικα.
  3. Χαμηλώστε το μάτι στο μέτριο και τσιγαρίστε το κρεμμύδι για 10 περίπου λεπτά, μέχρι να πάρει ωραίο χρυσαφί χρώμα. Αν κολλάει στον πάτο της κατσαρόλας ρίχνετε λίγο νεράκι και συνεχίζετε το ανακάτεμα.
  4. Προσθέστε τα κομμάτια του κοτόπουλου, λίγα λίγα και αν κολλάνε στον πάτο ρίχνετε πάλι λίγο νεράκι.
  5. Όταν θα έχετε προσθέσει όλο το κοτόπουλο αρχίστε να ρίχνετε μέσα το γιούρτι κουταλιά κουταλιά, ανακατεύοντας καλά. Αν νιώθετε να κολλάει στον πάτο η σάλτσα προσθέτετε και λίγο γιαούρτι. Θα το κάνετε αυτό περίπου 10 λεπτά μέχρι να σας μείνει το μισό περίπου γιαούρτι το οποίο και θα ρίξετε  μονομιάς στην σάλτσα.
  6. Αλατοπιπερώστε και κλείστε το καπάκι της κατσαρόλας. Αφήστε το φαγητό να σιγοβράσει για ακόμη 10 λεπτά ή μέχι να πήξει καλά η σάλτσα.
  7. Σερβίρετε με φρέσκο ρύζι μπασμάτι.

14 comments

  1. you have touched on many excellent points in this posts – esp concerning the similarities between indians and greeks – my husband’s first reaction after having indian food (he loved it) was that it was similar to greek food (thick sauces, chunky meals), with the main difference between the hot spices!

  2. Haha I love that you and I made the same dish! Great minds cook alike 😛

    I felt the distance as well but I didn’t really mind it, I guess. I really enjoyed reading about life in India itself, but in that sense it definitely seemed to me like less of a memoir and more of a straightforward narrative.

  3. I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on the writing, but have been cooking out of Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks for years and have found them to be consistently reliable with interesting, tasty, and delicious recipes. I do love her cookbooks. I saw an interview with her in which she said she only wrote the book after being hounded for years to do so by her publisher. I wonder if maybe she wasn’t ready to let down her guard enough for a really good memoir???

  4. I don’t know this writer either (and I had never heard of Julia Child until the movie came along either, so… not that well known in Holland either!) but your dish looks totally delicious. I love a good curry and I love almost all Indian (and Greek!) dishes.

  5. Your chicken looks delicious–I almost made this recipe too but in the end went with some recipes out of one of Jaffrey’s cookbooks. A great pick! Sorry the book wasn’t a favorite for you. I think maybe a familiarity with the author and seeing her both as an actress and as herself made it resonate more with me. She is what I would describe as a cool, elegant slightly reserved woman, so I expected that to be her “voice” in the book but I do see your point on her needing more connecting with the reader.

    I have moved Heat to the top of my pile FINALLY 😉 and I am looking forward to reading it!

  6. πάντα ψάχνω νέους τρόπους για να μαγειρεύω το κοτόπουλο και αυτή η συνταγή είναι πολύ ξεχωριστή και ενδιαφέρουσα!

  7. I make chicken curry most frequently of any Indian cooking, mainly because I have an old stand-by recipe that is consistently delicious. But, I will have to vary the routine and give this one a try.

  8. I second Peter’s suggestion: I now often use roasted garlic in my dishes. Your chicken looks really nice. I must try to make the onion paste with ginger. By the way, I also did not like God of Small Things.

  9. Enjoyed your honest evaluation of this book. I really enjoyed reading it as it opened up a different kind of life to me that I didn’t know much about. Your chicken looks really good and makes me want to try that recipe soon.

  10. Ooohh, that chicken curry looks delicious, I have the same recipe hand transcribed and bookmarked somewhere, and still have not gotten round to making it. I’ll have to enkoy it vicariously through your pictures 😦
    I do think Jaffrey had a reclusive hand when writing this “memoir”, I had other book club members (we read this a while back) mention that they found her aloof and distanced.

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