I found this dish in my mother’s recipe book, which she had copied from her grandmother’s. I do not know if this dish is actually made in Calcutta 🙂 My great-grandmother hailed from Thanjavur, and her family were closely related to Vedanayagam Sastriar who was a Samasthana Kavignar (court poet) during King Serfoji II’s reign. I assume this recipe would have come through the court’s cooks as she was unlikely to have come across a Calcutta dish through other channels. It is very easy to prepare. My great-grandmother made this dish with mutton, but I tried it with chicken and found it to be vastly superior to the mutton version. This can be served with Khamiri Roti or Pooris.
May is the month when Tamil Nadu experiences extreme heat. Fresh mint leaves are widely available as everyone believes in their ability to cool. I got a big bundle of the freshest mint leaves and tried to find a recipe that used mint leaves, but wasn’t satisfied with the ones I found as they involved a lot of labour. I came up with this Pudhina Chicken recipe that could be prepared quickly as I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen in this heat.
Butter Chicken was introduced to Chennai by tandoori restaurants. I used to frequent the Piccadilly Tandoor restaurant in the late ’70s especially for their divine butter chicken. I longed to make this at home, but I was never satisfied with the results I obtained from recipes I found in books. It was only after watching several YouTube videos that I understood the technique of making butter chicken, and starting making it regularly at home. This recipe gives a better butter chicken than what many restaurants serve – if I do say so myself 🙂 Butter chicken is usually served with naan at restaurants. I also usually have it with Homemade Naan, but this time I tried it with homemade bread, and the result was just as heavenly!
This is another handy recipe for when you have more curds than you need for your daily consumption, and you are looking for ways to use it up. I have created a very easy-to-prepare chicken dish with very few spices (compared to what we usually use in Tamil Nadu for non-vegetarian cooking) and thick fresh curds.
In South India, January is the month when luscious tomatoes are available at a very low cost. Apart from making chutneys, jams, pickles, sauces, ketchups and soups, the tomatoes can be used in large quantities in a variety of dishes. I have created this Tomato Chicken Curry by combining elements from many other dishes that I liked but felt could be improved and as a dish that can be quickly and easily prepared in a typical Indian kitchen.
I call this recipe Kovilpatti Chicken Curry because the originator of this recipe is my aunt who was from Kovilpatti. My mother-in-law was in the habit of collecting recipes but never tried them out. When we were going through her papers after she passed away in 1981, I found a letter dated July 1974 from her sister-in-law (Janaki Srinivasagam – my aunt) giving a recipe for chicken curry and a tomato chutney. I put this letter in a folder to try at a later date but I rediscovered it only last year and decided to make it. To my great surprise and delight, this is a very delicious preparation and so very easy to make. It’s a pity it had to wait 40 years but I suppose good recipes never die. When I spoke to my cousins (my aunt is no more) they told me she was famed for her chicken curry in our family circle. I wish I had known her better; I would have loved to collect more recipes from her.
Doro Watt or Ethiopian Chicken by Sefanit Sirak-Kebede was featured in the People’s Cook Book – A Celebration of the Nation’s Life Through Food. I was fascinated by the introduction to the recipe and the steps involved in the preparation captured my imagination and interest. This recipe must have originated when communities sat around a common fire and cooked, designating various tasks to groups of women – just like one of my cookery labs 🙂 I could visualise a chattering group peeling and dicing a kilo of shallots with tears running down their faces from the vapours, another group plucking, skinning and jointing a chicken, and another carefully melting the butter with spices. This last one I omitted from the recipe as in India it will be sacrilegious to waste good spices and flavoured butter will not lend itself to other recipes. Continue reading