One Saturday morning, we woke up later than usual. This sort of thing, the sleeping in on the weekends kind of thing does not happen very often in a family with children. All of you who are parents will be well aware of that.
We started the day slowly, talking over tea, catching up with the happenings of the week. It was just what a perfect weekend should be like. These days always remind me of the Sundays back home. Long hours of tea, Marie biscuits and newspapers, little chit chats. Sometimes we would have friends of my parents walk in, as they stopped by during their morning walk. Ma would make more tea, and then some more. The “adda” would build up.
As the sun started climbing up, baba would head out the bazaar on his bicycle and ma scooted to the kitchen to make lunch. I would wait for my favorite episodes in the television. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
After what felt like many years, I could feel that same relaxed vibe on this Saturday; just one of those days that connects me with my childhood.
Finally when we stretched out and got up, I realized there was no lunch. No leftovers either. We could have gone out but the way things were moving, none of us really felt like stepping out.
I had also marinated this little cornish hen the night before and it needed to be cooked. As it got close to noon time, I started cooking. The weekends, especially Sundays at home were filled with the aroma of the Robibar er Murgi r Jhol. Nothing beats that. It makes me happy that my older daughter sniffs around the kitchen waiting for food, just like I would whenever there is a chicken curry brewing on the stove.
Spices blend, onions caramelize and then the most sensational fragrance emits and dance around the lazy home as the pressure cooker hisses.
This time it was not much different than another chicken curry. The subtle nuances were only in the tenderness of the cornish hen and the way it absorbs all the flavors.
Cornish Hen Curry
Ingredients: (serves 2)
- 1 Cornish hen, cleaned and skin removed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- a sprinkle of salt
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder/paprika or cayenne
- 2 tablespoon yogurt
- 1.5 cup packed thinly sliced onion (pref. red onion)
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 inch stick cinnamon
- 1 clove
- 1/4 teaspoon methi/fenugreek seeds or 1/2 teaspoon methi-koot/broken methi seeds (optional; If you do not have it, do not bother just skip it or you may add some kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves while it is cooking).
- 1 tablespoon ground or grated fresh ginger with 2 pounded hot green chilli peppers (skip the peppers if you do not want spicy)
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
- 1 large vine ripe tomato (about a cup – 8oz measured), grated
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder (dry grind coriander seeds in a spice/coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 small potatoes (optional), peeled and quartered
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- fresh cilantro for garnish
- freshly squeezed lime juice
The cornish hen usually comes frozen. Defrost it in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.
Clean the hen and remove the skin. In recipes for chicken in India, the skin is almost always removed. Make deep slits on the breast and the thighs. Rub in some salt, red chili powder/paprika or cayenne and a tablespoon of lemon juice all over and allow it to sit for about twenty minutes. Next rub in the 2 tablespoon of yogurt and half the amount of the ginger chili paste and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Overnight will not hurt. Just make sure that you bring the chicken to room temperature when ready to cook.
If you are using potatoes, add a little bit of oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid, or a pressure cooker large enough to hold everything in a single layer and shallow fry the potatoes until they start to brown. Remove and set aside. Add the rest of the oil and add the spices (cinnamon, cardamom and clove). When they start to sizzle add the methi seeds (if you are using them) and then add the sliced onions.
Fry the onions slowly until they start to soften and slightly brown on the edges. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place in the pan/pressure cooker and slowly brown it on all sides turning it occasionally very carefully. It should just be golden brown.
Now combine the ginger chili paste, garlic chili paste, grated tomato, turmeric powder, and coriander powder in a small bowl. Add this mix to the pan and stir it gently so some of it coats the chicken. Cook in low to medium heat, while stirring a few times, until the mix is cooked, reduced in amount and starts to leave the sides of the pan. The raw taste/aroma should be gone and you will see the oil leaving the sides of the pan. Make sure the spice mix do not get stuck at the bottom of the pan and burn.
Add about 1.5 – 2 cups (8 oz) of warm water (the amount is approximate. If you wish to have more sauce like a stew, add more and vice versa) and the potatoes if you are using them. Give it a good stir, taking care that the chicken is not tossed around much or broken. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. If there is too much sauce and you want less, uncover and cook for a while to reduce the sauce. When done, stir in the garam masala.
Finish off with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice and fresh cilantro.
Serve with bread/flatbread or rice if you want with a salad/kachumber on the side.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: Intermediate