Posted on | October 3, 2010 | 26 Comments |
I have to thank Ms.Bong Mom for reminding me of this recipe. A few days ago she asked her readers the question â€śWhat is a forgotten food in your family that you would like to bring back". As soon as I read the question, my dadâ€™s chili chicken was the first dish that came to my mind. I am pretty sure he made up the recipe on his own, as this is a pre-TV cooking shows, pre-internet age recipe. Just like the majority of the Indian families at the time, my mom was the primary cook of our household. Dad used to help out with cutting the meat, cracking the coconuts open and some other hard laborious tasks like most of the other dads of his era. But unlike many dads I knew at the time, he also knew how to cook, though he used his skills to make only some specialty dishes at the time, unless my mom was sick or away. This chili chicken was the most famous and most loved dish in his repertoire. In those days, chicken was sold whole, there was no concept of buying skinless boneless breasts or drumsticks or anything like that. So he would cut all the meat out of the chicken bones himself, and make this boneless chicken dish that tasted outta this world! He also used to add some orange food coloring in it, so that the final product looked like it came out of a restaurant. And the days he made this, we would make a meal out of it. No rice or roti, just a plateful of chili chicken! Needless to say, those used to be the most-anticipated meals of the time.
During my initial years of cooking, I tried making this a couple of times, but somehow it was forgotten over the years. Mom and dad also started watching cooking shows and started looking up recipes on the internet that simple recipes like this have been shunned in favor of more â€śexoticâ€ť recipes for any special occasions. My sister and I talk about this dish once in a while, but if it wasnâ€™t for Sandeepaâ€™s question I wouldnâ€™t have suddenly felt the urge to go ahead and make this, so thank you Sandeepa for bringing back all those nostalgic memories!
The recipe here is not the same as my dadâ€™s, as he used to pressure cook the chicken before frying it. Since the chicken we get here cooks in much less time than the chickens of my childhood, I didnâ€™t use the pressure cooker. He also used to add some food coloring to give it an attractive restaurant look, but I didnâ€™t have any at home and had to resort to frying the chicken till golden brown to get it as close to the look as I could. Other than that the ingredients are pretty much the same. The heat of the dish comes only from green chilies, so use as much or as less as you like.
- 1lb Boneless, skinless chicken leg meat, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 20 Green chilies, split (Use less or more to match your heat tolerance level)
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- A few curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp oil
- Lemon juice (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pan and sautĂ© the shallots till soft. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt and sautĂ© on high heat stirring frequently till the chicken pieces turn white on all sides. At this point the meat would have given out plenty of liquid. Close the pan with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes till the meat is tender.
Remove the lid and stir in the green chilies, ginger and curry leaves. Cook on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently till the chicken pieces are cooked through and the pieces start to brown a bit.
Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice if using. Serve hot with beer or a cooling cocktail.