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  • A Long-winded Rant and Murgi Kalia – A Bengali Chicken Curry

    Posted on | April 15, 2008 | 36 Comments |

    This is a two part post with the two parts having no connection to each other. I am too jet-lagged and sleepy to come up with some twisted way of joining the two as I sometimes do. So feel free to skip the first part and jump to the recipe directly. Sorry, but I must rant!

    I am jinxed when it comes to air travel. Really, I am not exaggerating! Anything that can go wrong on a trip (apart from the obvious deadly ones of course) has happened to me, at least that is what I think until the next thing goes wrong! Siv, who travels about five times more than me normally, has very uneventful journeys, unless he is with me. I don’t remember many trips in my life where things were just normal. This last India trip was no different. We used our Northwest miles to book a free trip, which was so not worth it!

    It started with Continental airlines failing to find Siv’s reservation for the first leg of our trip since Northwest forgot to send the details over to them!!! How does that even happen, doesn’t it all just happen via some automated process??? We missed the flight while they were trying to sort this out. Continental very generously offered to put us on an evening flight, where we would have to go to NY, stay a night and take the next day’s flight from there to Mumbai. A very angry phone call to NWA fixed it immediately, they put us on a direct SEA-BOM flight, which was an awesome route.

    But NWA again forgot to inform Continental about the change in the itinerary. So as far as Continental was concerned, we were no-shows for their flight, which meant we were still in Seattle, so our return trip from BOM-SEA was automatically canceled. Sure, they didn’t inform NW either, so when I reconfirmed our reservations on everything seemed just fine.   Somehow I sensed something might go wrong, so I checked Continental website for our trip details and found the mistake in time. Continental obviously couldn’t help me, because the tickets were booked through Northwest! Northwest conveniently doesn’t have any local numbers in India, and I had to talk to their customer service in the US. It finally took me three hours of international talk time- mostly hold time – with Northwest customer service to get it fixed. Every time I called, they would forget to do something, and I had to call back and talk to a brand new person who would shamelessly blame the previous agent and of course Continental airlines for the mistake.

    I was planning to write a long e-mail to Northwest about the whole experience, but I know that they will just send me some NW flight coupons to make up for this, which means I will have to fly Northwest again to use those up.  So I am not sure if I should even write that letter!

    The icing on the #$%^ cake was when we tried to get seats together on the last flight segment on Alaska air. We had seats 6E and 10D. But when they tried to find us seats together, they somehow managed to lose 10D, and got us 30D instead and no seats together. I gave up my 6E to get the 30E, just so that I have a shoulder to sleep on for the six hour flight. 30 is the last row of the flight, which meant our seats were right in front of the toilet. I was sitting so close to the loo, if someone kept the door open I could fall into it in my sleep! On a six hour flight I think about 90% of the passengers would use the toilet at least once, and after about three hours the smell got so unbearable in that area. I used up one very expensive bottle of perfume as an air freshener just to keep myself from throwing up. And the worse was when occasionally a queue formed in front of the loo and people thought it was okay to just lean on my seat or stand right in front of me with their rear ends on my eye level! Seriously, so many times I opened my eyes to see an ass just inches away from my nose!

    It really was the flight from hell!

    As I said before the story has nothing to do with the recipe. We got back yesterday and after all the crappy airline food, we were in the mood for some home cooked meal, and a quick peek at the blogging events showed me that today is the last day for RCI Bengal. I pretty much doubled the number of my cookbook collection this trip, I picked up a bunch of $2 pocket cookbooks on various regional Indian cuisines among others, and luckily there was one on Bengali cuisine as well. 

    This easy breezy chicken curry recipe is from this book called Bengali Kitchen by Sujit Bose. I more or less stuck to the original recipe, except for the addition of Panch Phoron. This recipe didn’t call for it, but another chicken curry recipe in this book did. I badly wanted to use the Panch Phoron that Musical sent me, it could only add to the authenticity right? Bengali Chicken Curry 052


    • 1.5 lb Chicken cut into medium pieces
    • 1 tbsp oil (original recipe calls for ghee)
    • 2 tsp panch phoron
    • 1.5 cups chopped onions
    • 1 tsp ginger paste
    • 1 tsp garlic paste
    • 2 cloves
    • 2 black cardamoms
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp turmeric powder
    • 2 tsp red chili powder
    • 1 cup hot water
    • salt to taste


    Heat the oil or butter in a large pan. Add the panch phoran and saute for a few seconds.

    Add the onions and stir till it becomes soft.

    Add the ginger and garlic pastes, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon powder. Saute for a few seconds.

    Add the chicken pieces and mix well. Cook on high heat for about 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally.

    Add the spice powders and mix well. Saute for a minute or so till the spices start to brown. Add the tomato pieces and mix well. Add a cup of hot water and bring to a boil.

    Cook covered for about 7-8 minutes or till then chicken pieces and tender. Uncover and cook on high till the gravy is thick.

    Serve hot with rice or chapatis, we had it with idiyappam (steamed rice noodles or string hoppers), not a classic Bengali combination, but still was delicious.

    This goes to our dear Bong mom Sandeepa who is hosting RCI Bengal this month. RCI stands for “Regional Cuisines of India” , this event is started by LakshmiK from “Veggie cuisine”” .

    Category: Chicken, India - Other

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    36 Responses to “A Long-winded Rant and Murgi Kalia – A Bengali Chicken Curry”

    1. Anita
      April 16th, 2008 @ 12:24 am

      Too bad about the flight mix-ups…but hopefully the visit itself made up for it some.
      We are all ready for the quizzes to come…

    2. Nirmala
      April 16th, 2008 @ 12:26 am

      Oof! an awesome journey indeed! Your way of narrating was so lucid Sig. My first and till now only onve air travel is from Chennai to Toronto on a business trip which was around 27 hrs of travel with just 6 hours of break in between. Till now that made air travel as a nightmare to me. And a lovely chicken curry. Its so nice of u to have a last minute entry in that mood! Appreciate u’re commitment ;)

    3. Raaga
      April 16th, 2008 @ 12:40 am

      I am sure you had fun… funny, I was thinking of just that … someone’s behind… or worse… front… inches from my nose… even in a bus!!

    4. Arundathi
      April 16th, 2008 @ 2:30 am

      That really does sound like a trip from Hell. I dislike Northwest intensely – they are probably the most inefficient airline in the industry. Good Luck with your next flight – and thanks for the recipe!

    5. Happy Cook
      April 16th, 2008 @ 3:29 am

      I had a big smile reading the post especially some one leaning on your seat near the loo, i can imagine your the expression you had in your face.
      Even after all the mix up you did enjoy the stay in Kerala as i can still remember your boating picture.

    6. indosungod
      April 16th, 2008 @ 3:35 am

      Sig did the phone calls make up for the difference in cost of the free flight :( These miles are not worth the hassle but we even have a CC which collects miles :cry: .

      But the chicken curry you have there should wash away all those nasty airplane memories.

    7. rachel
      April 16th, 2008 @ 4:02 am

      Whew..That was some rendition….!It couldn’t get any worse…

    8. sunita
      April 16th, 2008 @ 4:35 am

      Ouch!What an awful experience :shock:

      …the chicken curry looks delis though :drool:

    9. sunita
      April 16th, 2008 @ 4:36 am

      …erm, add the ‘h’ :oops:

    10. sia
      April 16th, 2008 @ 5:43 am

      gosh… i know whats in for me today. i am leaving to India tonight.
      take care girl. see u when i get back :)

    11. richa
      April 16th, 2008 @ 6:15 am

      yay! u r back, with a sore travel exp albeit :razz:
      look forward to all those yummy rcp from the various cookbook u picked up :party:

    12. Revathi
      April 16th, 2008 @ 6:26 am

      Wow – I had a similar experience with United Airlines. And after yelling and yelling on the phone, the coupon showed up only not to be used. Good that you are not going to write a letter.

      I think those reading your blog will be wary of NWA. I would !

      Otherthan that I hope you had a fun trip in India.

    13. rina
      April 16th, 2008 @ 7:06 am

      Boy, that was an experience air travel dear. :cry: .. I think u can publish My Experiences with travel, now.

      Anyway…that is a simple and easy chicken dish. :drool: . hope i can find the panch phoron masala here.

      Come out of u’r jet lag :sleepy: soon

    14. Anuzi
      April 16th, 2008 @ 7:41 am

      Oh my what a crappy travel story! I would have had a fit…and Bhatji who is the more patient out of the two of us would try to calm me down…which in turn always upsets me further because how are you normal and not freaking out; which means we would in turn fight and no one would be happy :???:
      But I am glad to have you back. I missed your recipes and your awesome writing style. And also wanted to compliment you on your amazing recipe for sausage fried rice that was a huge hit with the hubby and the rents! Hooray for your return :grin: :grin: Get better soon dahling

    15. Nags
      April 16th, 2008 @ 8:33 am

      that’s a lovely entry with a pic to match, Sig :)

      guessing u didnt get my email when u were in ktym. i am home now, was hoping we cud meet up. maybe next time!

    16. Rajitha
      April 16th, 2008 @ 9:34 am

      :mad: i hate NW..seriously and they have a hub here in guess how we land up travelling…and to be honest the very fact that you got a free trip from those losers is a miracle in itself…we have tons of miles…but they see to give us the finger…and seriously i do not mind it..i know what the flowers!! :???:

      glad you had a good trip in india…and ooh! i love those pocket books….and where is my gift :mrgreen:

    17. Kalai
      April 16th, 2008 @ 11:36 am

      Oh, my goodness!! Sounds like you really needed a comforting meal after the trip from hell! :shock: :( Beer): This chicken dish looks wonderful!! Will try it for sure. :smile:

    18. mandira
      April 16th, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

      Sig, sorry to hear about the dreaded trip. NW has worked out OK for us so far, it’s Air India that screwed us up and no coupons either…

      Murgi Kalia ta to phataphati :) (looks great!)

    19. musy
      April 16th, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

      Wow, that must have been crazy! i am glad though that you are back, and that your stay in India was enjoyable. Lovely chicken curry though-must have quite a treat to your senses after a long, tiring journey.

      a big hug,

    20. Rachna
      April 16th, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

      aw shame…you poor thing… take yur time to rest and get over the jetlag!!

    21. Namratha
      April 16th, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

      Ohhhhh poor u, I can only imagine how horrible this entire experience was for ya :neutral: It’s a pity you can’t do more than just put this incident behind you.

      You were the one who ranted, but now I feel exhausted and would love to dig into that curry..yummy!

    22. Ramya's Mane Adige
      April 16th, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

      hmmm….tht does sounds pretty bad :sad:
      And the loo thing is really bugging, i know!! It happned with us too last time….

    23. Inji Pennu
      April 16th, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

      you cooked after a lovely trip from india and a nasty flight??
      if not for the airplanes and the horrible journies, i would have hopped on a plane every 3 months to india..

    24. sra
      April 16th, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

      That was a short trip, wasn’t it? Hope you had a great time despite the nuisance of the flights! Me – I keep hoping my flights get delayed or something because that will give me some extra time in a different city, but I certainly don’t want mix-ups!

    25. Padmaja
      April 17th, 2008 @ 1:03 am

      Gosh!! what an experience but to round the post with this lovely dish is amazing!!
      Absolutely loved the curry!!

    26. Sandeepa
      April 17th, 2008 @ 8:24 am

      Oh your back. I was so surprised to see your entry in my mailbox right now as I thought you were still on vacation.

      Poor thing, what an experience and yet you come back and post. I am touched, honored and ashamed ‘coz I myself posted late.

      Thanks for such a delish entry

    27. TBC
      April 17th, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

      I enjoyed reading this :cool: … too bad for u though! :razz:

    28. Sandy
      April 17th, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

      Oh so sorry to hear about your terrible flights but I am glad to hear that you had a wonderful time back home and a safe journey back home to the US. Those tropical pictures are just amazing and you even educated us on so many things. I hope one day I will have the opportunity to travel to those parts of the world. Now I need to get one of those cameras that you have. What kind do you and Siv use ? or is there some kind of technique for taking such brilliant COLOR pictures :smile: I have taken a break from Indian cooking… Fingers hurting. I tried to make the butternut curry dish with the coconut but I never cracked one before in my entire life. So I went for it and I got my daughter to take it out to the patio and crack it open with a hammer. She did a good job :( Yes): The crack was pretty straight and oh I gave her a screw driver to poke holes to drain the juice prior to the hammering job. Then I spent quite some time using a melon baller to scrape the meat out. My fingers are sore after this job. I heard that Indian grocers would normally crack a coconut and then there is a special tool to scrape the meat out. I will have to scout for one of these tools. But I did end up making the curry and it turned out well however I put too much coconut. I added more than what you called for in the recipe since the coconut smelled so good. I will definetly make it again … still have the rest of the coconut in the freezer.

      LOL Sandy, that is a great coconut story…… :D I always just buy frozen grated coconut from the Indian stores here… I can’t deal with cracking a fresh coconut…

      Regarding the camera, the backwater pics were taken with a point and shoot Nikon CoolPix S700, since I didn’t want to carry the D50 all the way to India… I am glad the pics came out well.. no technique, the nature was with us that’s all…

      BTW, an email is on its way for you…

    29. nandita
      April 17th, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

      Hey Sig,
      Have had many similar experiences here and i consider it my bad airline luck, as when me and S travel together, only then our baggage gets misplaced and S travels all the time, with no such problem :)

      Sorry that you had to face so much stress on your way back home, but best to stay with the happy memories of your trip and hope for the best next time :)
      Many hugs

    30. Cynthia
      April 18th, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

      Oh gosh Sig, that was the worst! It was indeed the flight of hell. You must have been so happy to deplane.

    31. Shankari
      April 20th, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

      We has simiar experiences during our last trip, but it was not the airline’s fault..let us just blame it on luck. :cry:

      Hope the rest of your trip was great and you have loads of pics to share with us

    32. sig
      April 20th, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

      Thank you all, for taking the time to read my rant… I had to vent it out… and now I feel lot better… :)

    33. Jyothsna
      April 20th, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

      Uh-ho! A lousy airline that is, really! But a lovely trip would have made up for everything else, isn’t it?

    34. Swati
      April 21st, 2008 @ 2:43 am

      you are too coool… guess this happens with most of us when we expect the most that things shud go the way we want them too.. and there they go the other way … am sure u feel better now… venting it out like this surely does work…

    35. Miri
      April 21st, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

      UGH!!! what a terrible experience especially when you are on the way back from home and a holiday and just want to savour the memories!!! :cry:

      YOu need a holiday from this holiday! :)

      Good to see you back! BTW, I didn’t see your posts showing up on ToI, are you having a problem too? Mine are showing up a day late….

    36. Shantanu
      April 24th, 2008 @ 10:00 am

      How did I miss this gem of a post earlier? Heh. Interesting flight experience…I guess all the American and European-run airlines are in a mess now. Try flying via the Pacific and use one of the (much) better Asian-run airlines instead.