I have always been fascinated by the idea of Caramel Chicken. I came across both English and Tamil recipes but I found them to be impractical. I have combined and modified the recipes to make it easier to prepare and reduce wastage. I decided to use country tomatoes instead of the hybrid variety for their acidic flavour. The caramel chicken goes very well with Dinner Rolls, fried rices, and pulavs.
A long time ago, perhaps in my first year of B.Sc, I had an essay by Winston Churchill on his school life where he mentioned his dislike for dumplings. This made me very curious to know what dumplings were and why they engender such hatred. I went through many British and Australian cookbooks and discovered that dumplings seemed inoffensive and harmless. I tried a few recipes and my family loved them – maybe in Churchill’s school days, British schools didn’t even add pepper to the dumplings! The popularity of dumplings at home made me create my own recipe for Dumplings in Chicken Stew.
I first experienced the mesmerising taste of chicken and pineapple at the Atlantic Hotel’s Shenbagam Restaurant in 1977, but I didn’t have a recipe for it. I later acquired The Cook’s Color Treasury sometime in the 80s in which I discovered this recipe only recently. I immediately tried it out and loved the taste, but I would say it is not as good as the Atlantic version. I have simplified the procedure, used fresh cut pineapple instead of the canned variety, and included ginger-garlic paste and chicken stock. I have mentioned that wine is optional, as many Indians do not like the taste of wine in food because the fermented flavour it imparts is associated with spoilage in the Indian mind.
Doctors also can be good cooks 🙂 This recipe is from my ophthalmologist cousin Suriya, who specialises in low fat cooking. She served these cutlets when we had gone over for dinner, and we loved it. She was very happy to give the recipe. Her method used the entire chicken as she doesn’t get only the skinless, boneless breast. I have modified the recipe by using chicken breast and also cooked the chicken using my own recipe for chicken stock. In this way, I get the cooked chicken for the cutlet and the stock for other dishes.
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!