Sunday afternoon for any Bangali (add ‘bheto’* to that) means ‘MANGSHER JHOL’**. Yes, in CAPS. With alu, potatoes, cut into halves. Doom struck my family a couple of weeks ago when the husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol levels which effectively translated into an embargo on red meat. Since then, the humble chicken, which by the way I consider vegetarian, has been making its foray into the kitchen a tad too often. And it’s only this Sunday that a sudden bout of nostalgia made me crave for some chilli chicken.
Rewind to the days of yore when chowmein and chilli chicken occupied the status of gourmet cuisine for many of us. Come birthday parties and we would customarily have chowmein-chilli chicken on the menu. Come another birthday party two days later and the same menu would follow. Make no mistakes. We were never bored of this sacrosanct combination. The challenge however lay with the moms who had to ensure that the chilli chicken was without the chilli for “beshi jhaal hole bachchara kikore khaabe!” (Google Translate would tell you that it means "How will the kids eat if it's too hot"). Sigh! How simple was life and its complexities…
Forward to 2014 and I was faced with a similar challenge. The husband’s taste buds do not make much room for chillies and allied products. Besides, I was attempting chilli chicken for the first time. Having checked a couple of recipes on the internet, I decided to take the plunge and create my own version of chilli chicken. The decision was primarily driven by two factors. First, I have never been very good with instructions anyway (innovation anyone :P) and secondly and more importantly, I was too lazy (read healthy) to fry all the pieces of chicken before cooking the gravy and wanted a shortcut which is very me and works perfectly well!
The chilli chicken turned out pretty neat and therefore I decided to document and share it here. I hope you try it out sometime, Sunday or otherwise J
That's me in action...the stool on which I stand on helps me get the extra edge!!!
Here’s what I used:
· About 750 grams of chicken with bones (I love the bones way more than the meat and never cook without them)
· 3-4 teaspoons of vinegar
· About 4 teaspoons of soy sauce
· 2-3 teaspoons of red chilli sauce
· 2-3 teaspoons of green chilli sauce
· 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
· I teaspoon of cornflour
· 3 large onions chopped not too finely
· 1 large garlic and a few extra pods which I had spare
· 4 green chillies
· Coriander leaves
· 2 teaspoons of refined oil
· Salt to taste
Here’s what I did:
- Made a rough paste of the garlic pods. Marinated the chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, garlic paste, pepper and salt for about one and a half hours. You may also consider making a paste of the green chillies and adding it to the chicken at this stage. I avoided this because of aforementioned challenge.
· In a pressure cooker (shortcut again), added the oil and sautéd the onions till light brown.
· Added the chicken and cooked for a while.
· Added the sauces and the vinegar and cooked again. The chicken by now had started releasing water. Kept cooking till the water dried up considerably.
· Once the chicken looked cooked, added about two teacups of water. At this stage, I also stirred in the cornflour with a little bit of water (remember Sanjeev Kapoor saying “no lumps”). Like I mentioned, we are ‘bheto bangalis’ and wanted a little bit of gravy to go with the rice. You may adjust the amount of water depending on whether you want it runny or on the drier side. Added some more salt (be careful, the chicken is already marinated in salt and soy sauce is also salty).
· Once the water started to boil, put the lid on and cooked for about fifteen minutes on medium flame. I have a Hawkins pressure cooker which does not blow prominent whistles but just lets the steam out on its own whims. So, I cannot comment on the number of whistles but roughly fifteen minutes it was.
· Opened the lid, poured out the contents and topped with lots of chopped green chillies and coriander leaves.
Just a click before we eat
*"Bheto -bangali" signifies a rice-loving Bengali. Most bongs seem to somehow fit into this category