Last year when we went to India my biggest regret was not being able to eat at Oh!Calcutta. I sure must have had other regrets. But 365 days later, that is the one that still haunts me. No amount of Biryani, egg roll, chicken chaap seemed to be able to apply a thick layer of soothing balm on that.
And it is not that we had not tried. We did. I had it all planned out even before the flight so much as landed on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport's tarmac. But I had not thought of the logistics that included 2 kids, an extended family and D's home which is a minimum of 184.3 km distance from any Oh!Calcutta location that can be thought of.
Of the few days we managed in Calcutta we had a choice to pick Mainland China or Oh!Calcutta. The seven year old picked the former. "Made in China" is more familiar to her seven year old mind."Mainland China" was beautiful but what about the "Kancha Lonka Murgi" at Oh!Calcutta, I kept telling myself. Things got so desperate that on the day of our flight, D suggested that we have our lunch there. I would have in my before life. But with 6 suitcases waiting to be locked,a 2 year old who needed a good nap before a late night flight and umpteen last minute phone calls to be made I decided to act all grown up and eat "bari'r khabar" instead.
What is this desperation to eat at Oh!Calcutta you might think.
To me, eating Bengali Home food at any place other than home is a novelty in itself. When we were kids, which seems light years ago, no one ate Bengali Food at a restaurant. The whole idea was so ridiculous that we could be coaxed to believe in life in Mars rather than eating at an upscale Bengali restaurant in 2011.
Bengali restaurants did not exist. Period. I am not including shops that sold Moghlai Parota, Roll, Chop etc.What did was "Bhaater Hotel", small places by busy roads which served maacher jhol and bhaat. We never went there. We feared Cholera and Jaundice and
Then in 1999 we took a friend visiting from Mumbai to Aheli, Peerless Inn's much talked about new Bangali restaurant in town. It was all servers in red-bordered white sarees, brass plates, fluffy white moidar luchi and very expensive. The Mumbai friend was bowled over. We were awed. But we couldn't fathom paying so much for food that Ma loves to cook and feed every day. So we never went back. That we didn't live in Kolkata justified the decision.
After 10 years of cooking, feeding and cleaning I now realize, I would be only too glad to pay a hefty sum to be served white puffy luchi and sada alu-charchari. At least sometimes.
So anyway, having not been able to eat the "Kancha Lonka Murgi" at Oh!Calcutta I hallucinated about it. I had no clue about the dish. From one of Kalyan's post I had a vague idea that there was fresh corriander and ginger in there and of course lots of Kancha Lonka aka Fiery hot Green Chilis. Then I found a recipe on Oh!Calcuttas FB page. But the recipe had too much going on in it, mace, nutmeg, cumin, the works.
I did not want that. Yes, I am crazy that way. I did not want the recipe which the restuarnt has and yet I was desperate to eat the dish cooked by them.
I wanted my "Kancha Lonka Murgi" to be all about Kancha Lonka. To be fresh, squeaky clean of any other spices to get the flavor of those green chilis. And then I was inspired by Sig's recipe. This Green Chili Chicken that her Dad makes would put any "Kancha Lonka Murgi" to shame I think. And then again this one, should be what the chef at Oh!Calcutta should actually go for.
My "Kancha Lonka Murgi" is based on those two recipes. I have Bangla-fied it by "no curry patta" and "add sugar". I have also added dhonepata(fresh corriander leaves) because somewhere Kalyan said so (or maybe he didn't). I have done very little and yet this dish is the only Kancha Lonka Murgi, I might ever want to eat. It is spicy, hot, all about green chili and clears sinuses. My eight year old who is the proverbial chicken-hater in the family, eats it with gusto and gulps of water.
It is hot, hot and hot. But it is also last bit delicious. If you have the fire in you to handle it, go ahead and make it. Perfect for chilly December.
Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates.
Kancha Lonka Murgi -- Bong Mom's version
WARNING: In all I have used about 16 green chili in this dish. If you are not sure of your heat tolerance go with less. Start with 10 say.
Wash and clean Chicken about 1 lb of skinless boneless chicken thigh/breast cut in small cubes.
Grind To Paste the following with a splash of water
Coriander Leaves -- 1/3 cup
Garlic Cloves -- 4 fat cloves(6 regular)
Ginger -- 2 tbsp peeled and chopped slices
Lime Juice - 1 tsp
Yogurt -- 2 tbsp
Mustard Oil -- 1 tsp
Green Chili -- 6
Marinate the chicken with half of the above paste and salt for an hour. Keep aside the rest of the marinade
Now heat 2 tbsp of Mustard Oil. Temper the oil with a 2" stick of cinnamon and 4 green cardamom lightly thwacked.
To the Oil and 5-6 green chili slit at the tip and 1 tsp of minced ginger. Saute for a minute
Add 1 cup of thinly sliced onions. Fry with a 1/2 tsp of sugar for 4-5 minutes till onion is golden brown in color.
Next add the remaining paste and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces to the frying pan and saute them till they lose their raw color. About 6-8 minutes
Add salt to taste. Add couple more green chili and cover the pan. Cover and let the chicken cook, stirring in between. Sprinkle some water if the chicken is sticking to the bottom of the pan but don't add too much water. In about 10 minutes the chicken will turn brown and be cooked. If you had not cut up the chicken in small pieces, break it up now and toss nicely with the masala. It is suggested that unlike me you cut up in small pieces at the very beginning itself.
Serve the hot, hot chicken with white rice or even as a starter dish.