Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chettinad Chicken

There isn't any place in Tamil Nadu where you don't come across the chettinadu restaurant. And most of the restaurants in this state have the chettinad items on their menu.

One such delicacy is the Chettinad Chicken. A real variation of the normal chicken curry. It has all this combination of authentic spices both whole and ground and with lots of red chillies and curry leaves, this is one dish full of flavour in a very unique way.

During my stay in Chennai, I and my Tamilian husband use to enjoy this most of the times. At first I guessed the ingredients that would have gone into it and prepared it, it did come out very near. But with tons of recipes out their in the net, we can never go wrong.

Though it takes a little amount of time with the preparation of the special spice paste, the investment is worth it and the taste pays off.

Dry Spices:
1 tsp fennel seeds
2- 4 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
2-4 cinnamon sticks, broken
4 cloves
12-15 curry leaves,
Others :
2 tbsp oil
2 Onions peeled and finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped or 1/4 cup tomato puree.
2 lb chicken, skinned and cut into small pieces (preferably chicken breasts)

For the Spice Paste:
5-6 dried hot red chillies( increase to 8 or 10 if desire more spicy )
1 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp white poppy seeds
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 inch piece of freshly chopped Ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and roast the cumin seeds, chillies, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and poppy seeds and grind a into a fine powder.
To this add garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt along with some water and blend into a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan. when hot, add all the dry spices.
Stir fry and add the onions and fry till lightly coloured.
Now add the spice paste and keep stirring.
Add whole tomatoes or puree and fry till all the raw smell is gone. Now Add the chicken pieces and coat them well with the masala. Add enough water, and simmer till the chicken is tender.
Now on high heat reduce the gravy into thick consistency so that the gravy sticks to the chicken pieces.
Alternately, for small servings, heat up a tawa, add a bit of oil, curry leaves, broken red chillies fry a little and add the watery chicken gravy with a little chilly powder and keep stirring till all the gravy becomes thick and sticks to chicken,
Garnish with coriander leaves.

This can be served with any seasoned rice like Tomato Rice, Coconut Rice, Lemon Rice or Iddiyappam or parota.
This is my entry for the blog event Chicken my Favorite, created and hosted by Vandhana Rajesh of Cooking up Something Nice

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tomato Rice/Thakali Sadam/Tamata Annam

DSC02662 For South Indians rice is a must. Rice being one of the best crops in S.I. and the harvest of which is also celebrated as a festival(Pongal), there are no less varieties of Rice in South India. And with so many types of rice we got to have that many recipes to try it. You visit any vegetarian restaurant in Tamil Nadu in the lunch time they have a series of seasoned Rice varieties..Thakali Sadam(Tamato Rice), Thenga Sadam(Coconut Rice), Sambar Sadam(Lentil gravy Rice), Thayir Sadam(Yogurt Rice), Lemon Rice and the list goes on. 'Sadam' basically means cooked rice in Tamil.

I cook a few versions of Tomato Rice...Here is one of them. Probably the easiest of all.

Ingredients :

4 Cups Cooked Rice ( Preferably Ponni or Sona Masoori Raw rice)
1 Cup Tomato Puree

for Tempering:

2 tsp Sesame oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Channa dhall
5 Red chillies broken into pieces
10- 12 Curry leaves;
1 Medium Onion cut into thin stripes
1/2 tsp each of the CCC powder(Chilly, Cumin, Coriander)
Salt to taste
A few Coriander leaves finely chopped

1/2 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
A pinch of Hing/Asfoetide


Heat up oil in a Kadai(Wok), allow mustard to splutter.
Add Channa Dhall, fry a little to change the color.
Add red chillies and after they fry add curry leaves and onions and fry them till onion changes color.
If desired add ginger garlic paste and hing at this point and fry.
Now add tomato puree and cook well.
Add the CCC powders and cook for another min.
Now add the rice and salt and mix well for about 1-2min, so that every morsel is evenly coated with the seasoning.
Add coriander leaves and remove form heat.

Serve hot with potato chips, or any dry veggie curry or if are a non-veg with a thick chicken gravy.(Chettinad style- Recipe in the next post)

This is my contribution to the event Mixed Rice Varieties created and hosted by Simple Indian Food - An Easy Cooking Blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spicy lentil Doughnuts in Seasoned Yogurt

AKA - Dahi Vada(Hindi)/Perugu Garelu(Telugu)/Thair Vadai(Tamil)

DSC02582 With the food blog event 'Frozen Yogurt' going on for this month which is hosted by Siri's Corner and with all the goodness of the Yogurt for us to enjoy, I can't but post this recipe.

This is popular for Breakfast/Tiffin or Snack in Tamil Nadu and Andhra. In my house whenever I'm able to make it, it becomes a meal. My two kiddos enjoy it. It's made in no time too.

You can make the vada from scratch or use the store bought ones. To make vada at home, soak required amount of Urad dhall(White Lentils) in water for about 1 to 2 hours, grind it into a smooth paste adding very less water..the batter should be very thick not loose. Add chopped onions, chillies, finely chopped ginger, a few curry leaves, black pepper balls and salt to taste to the ground lentil paste mix well and deep fry them in doughnut shapes. You can ignore adding all other ingredients except salt if you desire a lighter version. Usually in dahi vada is plain version.

Method for Thair Vadai or Perugu Garelu
This is say for about 6-8 vadas :
Just whip a cup of Yogurt, then add 1 cup water, to make the mixture like thick butter milk.
Add salt to taste.
Microwave vadai for 1 minute to make them soft.
Add to the above Yogurt mixture and soak well. Keep aside.
For seasoning, add a tea spoon of oil, after the oil is hot, add 1/4 spoon of mustard, 1/2 tea spoon urad dhall, 2 red chillies broken into pieces, 6-8 curry leaves, a pinch of Hing,
After browning add to Yogurt & vada mixture.
Garnish with Coriander leaves.
DSC02581 Wow!!!!!!!! It tastes good.

The recipe for Dahi vada has a deviation. As I mentioned the plain version of the vada are soaked in little sweetened Yogurt and the above seasonings are not used.
Instead the sweet tamarind sauce is spread on the Yogurt and Vada mixture and garnished with chat masala, cumin powder and a pinch of red chilly powder and coriander leaves.

DSC02585 I planned to write up on the good qualities of Yogurt but you can find that in this post at Siri's Corner.