If you have never read Shauna Niequist’s “BitterSweet”, you have surely missed out on a beautiful book and though it is hard for me to actually pick out one favourite part from the book, because I just love the whole book, I like to share one excerpt regarding autumn and all the delights that come with it;
“Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness, harvest; Orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smell of nostalgia: Apple’s bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild colour just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of the winter”.
With Autumn comes the stewing and brewing of warm winter soups, spiced stews and comfort food, that warm and soothes your soul. In Asian food culture, Curry’s encompassing soupy characteristics become very popular in winters as they offer warmth, spiciness and earthy robust flavours. If you read my post of Chicken Amber Curry, the base of the dish is a soupy curry and is a huge hit in my house. This recipe has the same soupy character to it’s curry and is an absolute delight on a cold autumn night and not only that but also, these are recipe that will cook themselves, effortless and even lesser cleaning up after hence making them, perfect comfort food.
Situated in the south east of India, Hyderabad is known as the “city of Nawabs” because of the Mughal Dynasty. It is famous for its Minarets (decorated towers) and Pearl-bazaars. Ruled by wealthy Nizams and Mughal emperors, the city is a historic urban center of romance and wealth and like most of the cities of India it is a blend of fairy-tale and reality, a hodge podge of old and new forming an exotic background for its much sought after delightful cuisine. Hyderabad boosts of hospitality, cultural and food heritage influenced by three major cultures. Hyderabad’s food culture has significantly been influenced by conquests, trade Unions, dynasty rules, British Rule, freedom wars and intermingling of cultures and customs altogether and during these happenings, the city developed a unique culinary and cultural heritage, which remains well preserved. The generations of cooks past, have shaped the Hyderabadi food culture as the most diverse in the Indian Sub-continent. The gastronomical heritage of Hyderabad is a repertiore of the Turks, Mughal and the Arab influences. As a result of these imfluences, the Hyderabadi food fusion gave the Indian cuisine some of the most infamous and the most outstanding dishes e.g. Hyderabadi Bhagaray Baigan (Curried Brinjals), Hyderabadi Biryani, Hyderabadi Mirchi ka Salan (Green Chilli Curry), Dalcha (meat cooked with Lentil Curry), Hyderabadi Dum ka Keema (Smoked Meat Mince), Khageena (scrambled egg and onion cooked in spices) and Hyderabadi Bhuna Gosht (fried meat in a spicy tomato gravy) are just to name a few. The cuisine uses heavy spices to add earthy and robust flavour to the dishes and the ingredients may seem like a long list but the end result is finger licking good.
This Hyderabadi Chicken Gravy drives it’s flavour from its roasted spices paste i.e. fried onion, sesame seeds, cumin, coriander and Dessicated coconut. This gravy paste is what sets this gravy apart from the cliche’ Indian curries you may come across. Also, the gravy does not require tomatoes and is cooked plainly in the paste and yogurt base, hence giving it’s gravy a soup like character. That is what is so great about curries such as these, they are perfect for winters with their earthy and pungent flavours and a tad little more spice, warms you to your soul. As a matter of fact, I have come to love soupy curries like these and usually I wouldn’t love too much spice in my curries because I personally feel it kills the dish but curries having a soupy texture uphold the spice level quite diligently, in a way that the spiciness actually feels delightful.
Hyderabadi cuisine is as hospitable as it’s people. The dishes are inviting, hearty and generous in flavours just as the people of Hyderabad who are renowned for their hospitality and generosity towards guests and their altruistic entertainment; as Shuana Niequist rightly says, “preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but also to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honouring our own createdness and fragility”.
So, dip Naan or rice into this georgous gravy and you’ll be comforted by it’s warming delectable flavours.
1. Chicken on the bone — 1kg
2. Yogurt — 1 cup
3. Oil — 4 tbsp
1. Peanuts — 2 tbsp
2. Desiccated coconut — 2tbsp
3. Cumin powder — 1 tsp
4. Coriander powder — 1 tsp
5. Sesame seeds — 2 tsp
6. Onion fried — 2
1. Cinnamon — 1
2. Cloves — 4
3. Green Cardamom — 4
4. Curry Leaves — 10
5. Ginger and Garlic Paste — 1 tsp
6. Salt — 1 tsp
7. Red chilli powder — 1 tsp
8. Turmeric powder — ½ tsp
9. Tamarind paste — 2 tsp
10. Garam masala powder — ½ tsp
11. Water — 300ml
12. Green chillies sliced — 4
13. Coriander leaves — To garnish accordingly
1. Prepare the paste
a. In a fry pan, slice the onions and fry until golden brown.
b. Drain out on a paper towel and let it crisp up.
c. In the meantime, dry roast all the other paste ingredients.
d. In a blender, add all the roasted spices with the fried onion.
e. Add the yogurt and blitz it all together into a fine paste.
2. Prepare the gravy
a. In a cooking pot, heat oil and add cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom and sizzle for 1 minute.
b. Add the curry leaves and fry for 10 seconds.
c. Add the washed chicken pieces and stir fry for 5 minutes adding ginger and garlic paste along with it.
d. Add salt, red chilli powder and turmeric and fry for a minute.
e. Add the yogurt and fried onion paste and mix.
f. Stir fry for 5 minutes until the oil separates from the gravy.
g. Add the tamarind paste.
h. Add water and let cook on medium high flame until the chicken is done.
i. Add garam masala powder, slit green chillies and coriander leaves to garnish on top.
j. Cover the lid and cook another 5 minutes on steam.
k. Serve with naan or rice.