Wednesday, February 01, 2012
When I was younger, nubile(not), nymph like(not) I adored guys who wrote mushy love letters and chose white befuddled pigeons as their choice of courier. Mailman were passe. In between they would have saved the world, brought justice, developed six packs and delivered hot kisses.
Now I am in love with Dads who stay calm, rock solid and raise foul mouthing hormonal girls, trying to bond with them without losing an oz of coolness while in the background a wife who has been unfaithful is dying.(The Descendants)
Compared to the latter, the former looks like cake walk.
When I was younger, nubile(not), nymph like(not) I never thought of ajwain as anything but an after meal digestive which soothes a tummy that has had too many kochuri or alur chop or phuchka as the case maybe.We called ajwain -- "Joan"-- not "Joanne" mind you.We bought sachets of spicy and dusty "joan" on local trains in anticipation of a heavy meal. We drank Joaner Arok (also known as Aqua Ptychotis) in gulps after every wedding reception and talked of it with as much reverence as reserved for Joan of Arc. Ajwain or "joan" was then intermingled with our life---only in a different way.
Now I use ajwain for making a chicken.It was an accident, a stupid one, the ajwain. I used it to temper the hot oil in which the chicken will be cooked. I nodded at the sharp, strong taste that a teeny spoon of that seed can bring. I won't say I am in love yet. But it is a different beginning for sure.
Now let me tell you about the stupidity. I adapted this recipe from Anjum Anand's "Sindhi Lamb Curry" which uses Caraway seeds aka Sha jeera. In a rush I read it as Carom seeds aka Ajwain. I hesitated a moment wondering whether I should go ahead but then I took heart from the delicious looking kadhai jhinga cooked with ajwain and went ahead.I spiked up the hotness, used chicken and just called it ajwain wali chicken.
By the time I realized that the recipe had neve ever asked for Ajwain, the deed had been done and a new recipe born. For the original recipe replace the Ajwain with Sha Jeera.
Make a paste of
5 cloves of garlic
1" of ginger
5-6 hot green chili
In a bowl marinate almost 2lb of skinless chicken pieces with
1/4 cup yogurt(well beaten)
1&1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp carom seeds/ajwain
5 green cardamom ground
Heat 3 tbsp oil for cooking in a saucier
Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of carom seeds/ajwain,
4 dry red chili crushed,
1 small bay leaf,
1 black badi elaichi
and 5 green cardamom lightly crushed.
Now add about 2 cup of sliced onion and fry till onion is golden. Next add 2 tomatoes finely chopped. Add about 1 tsp of Red Chili powder. Add little salt. Cook till tomatoes are all mushed up and oil starts separating from the masala.
Next add the chicken along with the marinade. Fry the chicken for at least 20 minutes at low-medium heat till you see the chicken has lost its raw color and has started browning. Now sprinkle a little water, add salt to taste and cover and let chicken cook. Remove cover and stir in between. Do not add any more water.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove cover and continue frying the chicken till the masala releases oil on the surface. Add fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice and serve.