I had come across this recipe in a favourite TV show of mine on Fox Traveller channel – ‘Food Safari’. The husband frequently asks me why I watch it, even the repeat telecasts of episodes. “I love knowing about different countries, their food culture and cuisines,” I reply stoically, keeping my eyes fixed on the TV. He would give up and go back to the comforts of his own laptop. Sometimes I could hear him mutter things like I-thought-I-was-lucky-to-have-a-wife-who-doesn’t-watch-serials-and-now-I-have-one-who-watches-food-shows.
One such day, I was engrossed in watching an episode on Indian cuisine when he walked past the TV with a grimace and then stopped. The chef was making Hyderabadi Chicken. Later, that weekend, as I was about to prepare lunch, he asked me sotto voce if I would cook that chicken from that show.
“What chicken, what show?” I asked him, enjoying my position every bit.
“You know, that show you watch, where someone keeps cooking and everyone keeps eating.”
“I think you can do better.”
“Oh very well,” he threw up his hands. “That one where the Indian chef was making chicken and he kept on measuring stuff with his fingers.”
There you are. So he did remember the part where the chef, when asked why he used his fingers as ‘spoons’ to measure out spices, had explained beautifully about the various senses present in our finger tips. I recalled the dish as a particularly riveting one.
“Okay,” I told the husband. “You shall have your Hyderabadi Chicken.”
Here is how I made the dish with my own tweaks and twists.
600 gm chicken, cut into medium sized pieces
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each of ginger paste, garlic paste and green chilli paste (you can reduce the amount of chilli)
½ teaspoon each of cumin powder and coriander powder
2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts and sesame seeds paste (mix a little milk to make a thick paste)
¾ cup fresh yoghurt
4 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 elaichi or green cardamom
4 dry red chillies, broken into halves
Refined oil for cooking
Salt to taste
Fry the sliced onions in a pan or kadai till they turn golden. Sprinkle a little salt while frying to crisp them up. Transfer the fried onions onto paper towels so that the excess oil is absorbed. Keep aside.
Now, combine the yoghurt, ginger-garlic-chilli paste, peanut-sesame seeds paste, spice powders (cumin and coriander) to make a marinade. Tip in the fried onions and chicken pieces. Mix well.
Marinate for around half an hour.
Heat a little oil in the kadai and add the dry red chillies, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Let them crackle and release their aroma. Now, lower the heat to medium and stir in the marinated chicken pieces. Add salt, cover and cook till done. Luscious, creamy, aromatic Hyderabadi chicken is ready!
This is one dish that I will remember for its rich silky flavor. Yet it seemed quite light and just mildly spiced. The husband, I am glad to say, did full justice to the dish and even managed to throw in a few compliments my way. “Next time we have any guests,” he said, in between mouthfuls. “Please make this chicken.”
That I will. How about you?