A Recipe is just a story with a Good Meal at the end -- Pat Conroy
I have been reading Hidden Kitchen from NPR's the Kitchen Sisters lately. I do not read cookbooks for recipes. Most of the stuff I cook is what I have memories of, hand-me-downs from my Ma or Dida, pass me along kind of recipes from friends, blogs, neighbors, impromptu concoctions whipped up to please the palate, but very rarely from glossy beautiful cook books. I love cook books with stories and am afraid of tomes with teeming recipes.
When I saw this book at the library I picked it because it said NPR and I have liked it a lot since then.Who glues your community together through food ? Who is cooking on your corner ? What traditions are vanishing from your neighborhood, your family, the planet ? The authors ask these questions and more and as I read about the farmer in Indiana who sells raw cow milk or the Italian forager in San Francisco who cooks beautiful meals of his finds I am more and more intrigued.
The Kitchen sisters say "People are telling us that home cooking and the family table are on the endangered species list --- small farmers and producers are too -- and these age old practices and ways of life, cornerstone of our civilization will become extinct if we don't stop and take notice and protect and preserve them"
Home cooking is not easy and can get stressful as I sometimes find, juggling home, a job and two kids, but then again it is the most healthy and joyful alternative. And I don't say that just because it sounds nice and haloed and I am destined to do it in "servantless US of A". It does brings along a sense of peace on an otherwise bustling day.
And honestly home cooking is not so difficult as to become extinct. Much easier than fixing an Ikea book shelf and IKEA is actually doing pretty good.So what is it that makes home cooking endangered ? I often hear my cousins in India say they hardly cook and their cook does it all or if they are a young couple they just order a dabba. And when they do say that, their is a hint of pride for being able to afford a cook and an undertone of disdain for the very job of home cooking.
I am thinking is this is a slowly catching on global phenomenon, you don't want to chop, stir, cook because you either have cheap labor to do the job or you get your sandwich from the Burger baron or because you think it is a job not worth doing.
So you think the times you spend in the kitchen with the family, stirring and chopping together, explaining number lines to the 5 year old while you peel a cucumber, tasting and smelling and creating memories is just overly hyped .Maybe it is. You might bond better and have happier kids, downing shots of tequila than sweating it out in the kitchen.
But there is something wholesome and warm about this whole cooking thing which the tequila does not bring.It need not be an elaborate meal always, it need not necessarily be an everyday cooking chore, and you need not do it all by yourself, get help but whip up a hot meal and pass on your traditions.
Why do you cook dear reader and here I would urge non-bloggers to please step up ? What cooking traditions do you feel are vanishing from your neighborhood, your family, the planet that you would want to preserve ? Do you think delegating home cooking to an outside help makes a difference ? Come on tell me and share your thoughts.
With that said, I have Posto Murgi or Chicken in Poppy seed paste just like my Ma makes it only not quiet. Some of the flavors in my creation has been influenced by Indosungod's Chicken Curry. I loved her use of fennel seeds and also adding garlic to the Poppy seed paste, so those are the small changes that I made to this old recipe of my Mom's. I love Posto (Poppy Seed) in any form so little doubt that this is a much loved dish. But we had guests and they loved it too so in spite of my bias this indeed is a delicious preparation
Posto Murgi/Chicken in Poppy Seed Paste
Wash and clean about 5 lbs of chicken cut into small pieces. Marinade with 1 tbsp of lime juice, 2 tsp of ginger paste , 2 tsp garlic paste, salt, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of mustard Oil(optional) for 1-3 hours. Note: I usually buy whole chicken skinned. So when I say 5lb chicken I mean the weight of the chicken with bones et al
Soak 4 tbsp of Poppy Seed(Posto) in water and then make a paste of soaked posto + 6 cloves of fat garlic + 1" peeled ginger + 6-8 green chilli (heat alert adjust accordingly!)
Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan
Chaunce/Temper the oil with 4 Clove/Laung, 4 Cardamom/ Elaichi, 1" stick of cinnamon/dalchini, 1 tsp of Fennel seeds/Mouri/Saunf
When the spices start bristling add 2 cups of finely chopped red onion. Fry the onion with a sprinkle of sugar till it takes on a nice shade of brownish pink
Add 1 large juicy tomato finely chopped and fry till the tomato is mushed up and there is no raw smell
Add the poppy seed paste, 1 tsp of Red Chilli powder, 1/2 tsp of Garam Masala powder. Fry the masala till the masala looks cooked
Add the chicken pieces and saute them till they loose their pink color and becomes a light yellow. You can add about 1/4 tsp or less of Turmeric powder at this point
Add salt, paprika for color and about 1/2 cup of water. Adjust the quantity of water according to your needs.
Cover and cook till chicken is done. The way I make this dish there is little gravy but the result is not dry either. I would say the gravy is mostly clinging on to the chicken and it is very moist
Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves