Tomatoes, red glowing, colorful
"India is a land of colors". I have written this line as an opening statement for the "Holi" essay at school once every year till 5th grade, more if the essay was in the exams (after that I found better introductory statements) and read it innumerable times. The line remains etched in my mind, a part of my being. Never really paid attention to it, and it remained just another statement.
I missed my family, my home and lots of other Indian "ness" when I came here but never really missed "Colors of India". This land seemed colorful to me too, beautiful fall colors, the fresh clean green, the scrubbed blue sky, clean and beautiful.
I didn't miss the vibrant pink of saris in the crowded supermarket, the turquoise blue of the swirling chunnis in the workplace, the splash of canary yellow on the Asian paints billboards (btw did you know that the guy with the brush in those ads was known as Gattu ?) , the flashing gold of the bangles of the lady selling the veggies. No, I was happy with the subtle pastel colors until a sleep time chat session with the 3 year old.
Nudge, nudge she goes at the most opportune moment
"Yes darling" I say sticking to the neo-mother technique which insists you be sweet and calm and encouraging to the kid at all times even if you she nudges you out of slumber at 11:30 at night
"You know Didun(maternal grandma) says in Kolkata there is no bathtub, but there is a shower and she has many buckets too", the little one informs
"That would do fine" I say, not reminding her that on her last visit she would sit in one of those buckets filled with water and have a blast.
"You know Didun says, in Kolkata she has a pink bucket, a purple bucket, a green bucket, a pink mug and a red mug” she says all excited
"Wow really?? That’s nice, now close your eyes" I say, trying to sound cheerful at the vision of all those buckets lined up
"But we have to go to Kolkata with Didun, we have to get those pink, red and green buckets here and I want to bring the pink mug too", she insists.
Not happy with her sole dull blue bucket she craves for what but pink and purple buckets, something hard to find here and she knows they are there in India -- "the Land of Colors".
That made me sit up and notice how such vibrant colors in the most unexpected places influence us and I thank JFI for giving an opportunity to explore a color and taste each month. So this is for JFI Tomato hosted by RP of MyWorkshop and brain child of Mahanadi. Thanks RP and Indira.
This Chicken Casserole is a Tomato based dish I had learned long time ago from Sanjeev Kapoor, either from his web site or TV. However I had forgotten all about it for the last 2 years. Searching for a Tomato recipe, that would be different from my everyday Tomato dishes (have tomato, add tomato theory I follow) I thought of this but the site was no longer available except for a price. That would be a expensive JFI recipe I thought. But browsing through my old recipe book I chanced upon a Chicken Casserole which was almost what Sanjeev Kapoor had suggested and the memories came back. So I followed the recipe in the book almost but it was Sanjeev Kapoor whom I associate with this dish
What You Need
Serves 3-4 adults if accompanied with other dishes. Serves 2 if you are greedy and hungry :)
Chicken ~ 1 lb cut up in small pieces. I used chicken breast
Red Onion ~ 1 medium chopped in large pieces
Baby Carrots ~ sliced in halves about 1 cup
Red bell pepper ~ 1 chopped in thin rings
Green Chillies ~ 3-4 chopped
Tomato paste ~ 2/3 cup. I used Hunt's Tomato paste.
Tomato ketchup ~ 1 tbsp. Use Maggi Hot&Sweet or some tangy ketchup
Ginger Juice ~ 2 tsp
Peppercorns ~ whole pepper corns coarsely crushed 1 tsp. If you don’t like the taste of this in your mouth you can ground them fine
Red Chilli Powder ~ 1/2 tsp or more
Bay Leaves ~ 2
Green Cardamom ~ 2
Butter ~ 1tbsp or more
Vinegar ~ 1 tbsp
Ginger paste ~ 2 tsp heaped
garlic paste ~ 1 tsp heaped
Chilli powder ~ 1/2 tsp
Maida ~ 1 tbsp
How I Did It
Marinade the chicken pieces with 1 tbsp of Vinegar, 2 heaped tsp of ginger paste, 1 tsp of garlic paste, ½ tsp of Chilli powder and a little salt in a bowl. Keep aside for half an hour or more.
Chop the onion, carrots and red bell pepper as said
Sprinkle 1 tbsp of maida on the chicken and mix it lightly
Heat Olive Oil or any other suitable oil in Kadhai/Frying Pan
Add 1 clove of garlic chopped.
As soon as you get the fragrance of garlic add the chicken pieces. Do not add all the chicken pieces together by tipping the bowl as this will add the remnant liquid too. You want to lightly brown the chicken and you do not want any water/liquid in there.
Lightly sauté (do not fry them up) the chicken pieces and as soon as they are lightly golden brown, remove and keep aside
In the oil add 2 Bay Leaves and 2 Cardamom
Add the onions and sauté till they are soft and pink
Add the sliced carrots and the bell pepper rings. Cover and cook till they are a little soft, not totally done but slightly soft
Add the green chillies and the ½ tsp or more of red chilli powder
Add about 2/3 cup of Tomato Paste and 1 tbsp of Tomato Ketchup and sauté
Add the chicken and mix thoroughly
Add 2 tsp of Ginger juice, salt and the crushed peppercorn
Add a little water, very little and let it come to a simmer and switch it off
Heat Oven to 350F
Transfer the chicken along with gravy, veggies etc. to a oven safe bowl
Add butter and cover this dish and bake
Should be done in 15 minutes. Let it sit in the oven after that for some more time. That is what I did.
Best had by itself or with Chapati or Bread
Note: The dish looks beautiful with all the red & orange. You can add other veggies too to offset the colour and have more green veggies.
Next time I am going to increase the "hot" level as this was not enough for me, maybe the chillis lacked the required hotness
The peepercorns were lightly crushed, you may powder it if you do not want to bite into peppercorns in your mouth
You can make your own Tomato paste if you want
If you have the Tomato paste, this dish is quick to prepare
Trivia:There have been several legends about Tomato. A story goes that the lingering doubts about the safety of the tomato in the United States were largely put to rest in 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26, he would eat a basket of tomatoes in front of the Salem, New Jersey, courthouse. Reportedly, a crowd of more than 2,000 persons gathered in front of the courthouse to watch the poor man die after eating the poisonous fruits, and were shocked when he lived.(Source: Wiki)