Sunday, April 29, 2018

Robibar er Murgi r Jhol -- Sunday Chicken Curry



A few months back I got an email.

This is exactly what it said

Didi,

Apnake Jodi Bengali Sunday dupurer chicken curry ranna Korte hoy , family r jonno . Apni ki bhabe ranna korben ?

What is the best recipe apnar kache ? Kindly ektu information dile khub Khushi hobo .
(Didi, If you have to cook the Bengali Chicken Curry for Sunday lunch, how would you do it?)

At first I was a bit irked by this email. Not by the reader as I guessed he was a much younger guy and yet had not called me "Didi" and not Mashima !!. But you know how this "Robibar er Mangsho" has been done to death and restaurants now have it on the menu and folks who have no idea what "Robibar er Mangsho" means order it on a Wednesday night and eat it with naan and a bottle of chilled beer while watching "Didi No.1" on the telly.

It totally sucks the joy out of the whole thing. Honestly it doesn't really make much sense if you are cooking it on a non-Sunday or eating it at a restaurant or using your "food delivery" app like Swiggy to order "ek plate Robibar er Murgi dena".

Tell me, what is a Robibar er Mangsho if not followed by hours of bhaat ghoom (siesta), bangla natok on Kolkata "Ka", and lingering turmeric colored aroma of a jhol on the tip of your fingers until Monday morning ? And most importantly, what is a Robibar er Manghso if not Goat meat!!!!

So this is what I replied

Bhai
Eita trick question kina bujhlam na !!! Sunday to Sunday to exactly same hobe na. Eikhane ekta mutton er dilam. Chicken diye mostly ei rokom i kori, konodin moshla beshi, konodin jhaal beshi, konodin duto gajor instead of aloo, je rokom Sunday sei rokom jhol :-D
(I don't know if you are asking me a trick question. Whichever way you cook your chicken on a Sunday that will be your Sunday Chicken Curry!)




But then I cooled down. I realized the world has changed a whole lot since the times when we used to have meat only on Sundays. In the late 70's,  in most middle class Bengali families like ours, everyday lunch and dinner would be dominated by fish. And when I say fish, I don't mean Malaikari or Kaalia for dinner everyday. Simple fish curries with mustard paste or vegetables in season were the usual norm.

Now Sunday was a red-letter day as that was the only day that offices and schools were closed and so lunch would be a family affair. That was also the day when goat meat was cooked for lunch in most Bengali homes. Meat, in particular Goat meat, was not something we ate every day. It was both expensive and also considered a food rich for daily consumption. Chicken or Murgi was not cooked in most Bengali homes that had matriarch like my Grandmother's. She allowed goat meat but considered "murgi" foreign and so it was banned from her kitchen.

So mutton curry aka "pa(n)thar mangsho" on some Sundays(usually the Sundays earlier in the month soon after payday) was something we lived in anticipation for. By the sheer magic of being a rare and thus much awaited occasion, the Sunday Lunch of Meat Curry and rice took a special position in our heart.

Things changed a fair bit after "chicken" started being used widely in Bengali kitchens. Chicken was cheaper than goat meat, cooked faster, and so it could be cooked on any other day too instead of fish. Often on Sundays, goat meat was getting swapped with "murgi", making it a "Robibar er Murgi'r Jhol". It was not a recipe with unique ingredients, nor was it a heirloom one. It was just a chicken curry, cooked fresh with freshly ground spices, that was had with rice for lunch and led to long hours of siesta afterwards. Yes, the siesta part stayed the same.



As we became global and more connected, that humble chicken or mutton curry was pushed aside for what seemed more fancy names like "karahi gosht" or "chicken rezala" or "coq au voin". Meat wasn't special enough to be cooked only on Sundays any more. You could have it any time. If not at home then outside. And since we all know that familiarity breeds contempt, we didn't really bother about "Sunday Dupur er Mutton Curry" any more. Until that is we grew older and nostalgia struck big time. We didn't want to eat mutton curry whenever we could, we wanted to wait, to build up that excitement for we finally understood that
Happiness is not in getting something but in the waiting.

In my home here, we eat chicken a couple times a week. Strangely we eat mutton maybe once in a couple of months. On a Saturday or a Sunday, when I cook chicken or mutton I usually stick to that same age old recipe my Mother followed on her Sundays.Nothing extraordinary, no special ingredients. I also cook with a lot of jhol. My daughters call this "Weekend er mangsho'r jhol". For them, it is a curry that has potatoes and enough gravy to be mixed with rice.

Here's the recipe of Sunday Dupur er Chicken Curry for the next gen. After wading many waters and making onion paste, grating onion, blah, blah, I have realized the easiest and simplest recipe works best. After all, who wants to waste all of Sunday making Chicken Curry for lunch ?



I also use a Radhuni Meat masala, which my friend had got for me from a Bangladeshi store. It is really good. In its absence use any other Meat masala.

To read about the Sunday tradition and goat meat curry click here - Bengali Pa(n)thar Mangshor Jhol
Another simpler recipe from my Ma-in-law of a mutton curry -- Robibar er Mangsho'r Jhol





Robibar er Murgi r Jhol -- Sunday Chicken Curry

Buy Chicken. I usually buy a chicken from the Halal meat store and get it cleaned.

My usual dialog is "Skin off, medium pieces please"
Initial weight of the chicken is usually: 3.5 lb

Once I am back home, depending on my mood, the chicken is treated differently. If I am dead tired, I just put it in the basement freezer and plonk myself on the couch.
However if I am making a "Robibar er Murgi'r jhol" and it is Sunday morning I cannot do that, can I ?
Marinate Chicken

So then, I wash the pieces in running warm water and then marinate them with the following ingredients

1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red Chili Powder
1 tbsp Garlic paste
1 tbsp grated Ginger
1 tsp of Radhuni Masala(or any other Meat Masala)

Salt to taste

1 tsp of Mustard Oil
a little lime juice or yogurt (2 tbsp lime juice or 1/4th cup yogurt)

Prep Ingredients

While the chicken marinates, I do the following

1  Chop 1 large red onion in thin slices (We get very large onions here)
2. Chop 1 large red tomato
3. Mince 5 cloves of of garlic
4. Slit 4 green chilies in half
5. Check whatsapp
6. Chop 2 potatoes in quarters

Prep Spices

Next I get the moshla ready. In a small bowl add

1. About 1 tsp of Dhone guro aka Coriander powder
2. Approx. 1/2 tsp of Jeere guro aka Cumin powder
3. Loosely packed 1 tsp of Radhuni Meat masala. This is a bomb but I don't know where you can buy it, my friend got it for me from Bangladeshi store. You can use other Meat Masala too or Garam masala.
4.A little red Chilli powder
Make a paste of all of the above with a little yogurt or water

By now, the chicken has rested and marinated for more than an hour and so we now bring it back into the picture,

Start Cooking

Heat Oil in a deep bottomed pan. You can also use a Pressure cooker.

Temper the Oil with
1 tsp of Cumin seeds
2 small cardamom
1 Tej Paata
1 slender stick of cinnamon
Note: You can use paanchphoron instead of cumin for a different flavor

Add the garlic and green chilies followed by the onion. Saute until onion starts turning brown around the edges. 6-8 mins

Add the tomatoes. Fry until onion is all pulped up. 5 mins

Next goes in the spice paste you made with the dry moshla. Sprinkle some water and saute the masala. 3-4 mins

Now add the chicken pieces. Mix well with all the spices and onion and tomatoes and what have you. Saute for about 5-8 minutes until all the chicken pieces lose their raw coloring and the masala is all cooked.

If you are adding potatoes, which of course you must, add them now. Saute for 2 more minutes

Next add water and salt to taste.

If you are cooking in pressure cooker add enough water to cover meat and potatoes. Simmer and let the gravy come to a boil. Now cover the lid and cook. I have a Futura pressure cooker and at full pressure, I cook for say 5 minutes.

If you are going to cook in the a kadhai/degchi/pot, then you would need a little more water as you will be drying off some of it. So say 2-3 Cups of water at room temperature.
Let the curry come to a simmer. Now reduce the heat, cover the wok/kadhai and let the chicken cook in low heat. After 25-30 mins or so, lift the lid and there is a fair chance that you will see a slick layer of oil floating on the top.

Now open the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes more until the chicken and potatoes are cooked. Switch off gas

Towards the very end, do this to add some extra oomph
Crush 1" of ginger
2 clove
2 green chili
Add this to the pot of chicken curry and cover. Let it sit for 6-8 minutes

Serve with steaming hot rice



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2 comments:

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