Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind

So we are back to Monday, the weekend is over and I have no idea how the time has flown by. Saturday is my most favourite day - a day reserved for family fun. My husband and I love to watch movies and eat out and since it was his birthday last week, we decided to go out for dinner along with some dear friends last night. Ate out at a new Spanish restaurant (one of the many in my locality that boast of continental/world cuisine) - the place was pretty nice but probably not geared up to serve their guests in style and on time. So yes, after waiting for ages for our food to arrive and having spent a good 3 hours listening to the svelte woman belting out many numbers on & on we ate some exotic sounding delicacies which were a little bland for our Indian palettes but we pounced on it hungrily and also finished off a divine mud cake in no time. The whole experience of eating out is just so nice - there is always something nice to look forward to when you try out a new place - the ambience, the service and most importantly the food. And music? Oh! Who can resist great music that gives you company while you dig into that nice plate of Seafood Paella or Mutton Shanks with Saffron Risotto? Yum na? Even the thought of the menu makes me salivate right now and I can't wait for another occasion to visit another nice place soon.

Since we ate out a lot last week, I decided to make something simple yet satisfying for lunch on Sunday. Hubbykins bought some Sanna from a Mangalorean bakery nearby and I was so pleased as I hadn't planned to make them at home and it was nice to know that we managed to get some before they got over. This Chicken curry is my mum-in-law's speciality. I have to admit that her way of making it is any day better than how I can make it. I solely blame the mixer grinder I have as it's a known fact that masala ground in a traditional 'Gatno' (grinding stone) always tastes better than anything else. I asked her for the recipe almost as soon as I had finished my meal at my in-laws' when I was just a new bride. Since then I have turned to this recipe so often that I remember the ingredients by heart. Whenever my mum-in-law used to make it, she would save up some of the extra gravy for the next morning when we would finish it up with hot chapathis and then wash down the entire morning meal with a nice cup (or should I say glass) of hot coffee - filter coffee made the Mangalorean way. I have also made this curry several times to go with Sweet Pulao, so I think my best memories are of these two accompaniments - Pulao & Chapathis.

This recipe calls for the Bafat powder that most Mangaloreans stock up on the whole year through and which comes so handy in times like these - when you don't want to slave over something elaborate in the kitchen. If your chicken is tender, you can get this curry done under 30 minutes (does not include time taken to thaw the chicken!) And it's an ideal recipe for those who like medium spicy curries  and also those who don't like coconut based curries as this one is onion based. The natural sweetness of the dates and the tangy tamarind give you a nice sweet n sour taste. The onion base provides the thickness to the gravy making it so versatile - have it with rice or with chapathis. For a moment, I wanted to name this 'Sweet n Sour Chicken' - but then it would sound so 'Chinese' and give the wrong impression. As much as I like world cuisine, I think I should retain the authenticity of this darling recipe!

Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind
Serves 5-6

You Need:
1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces, wash & allow to drain. Peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly 1 cm thick slices.
2. Grind the 4 onions, tamarind paste, dates, bafat powder, ginger & garlic to a fine paste. In a large wok heat some cooking poil and add the ghee (just for the fragrance and flavour) and fry the finely sliced onion till it turns pink. Add the ground masala and fry on slow flame till the raw onion smell disappears (this can take about 4-5 minutes) - take care to keep stirring once in a while.
3. Add half a cup of water to the mixie/food processor used to grind the masala and use that water for the gravy. Add in the potatoes and salt to taste and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes
4. Add the chicken and cook on a slow flame, toss in half the coriander leaves when the chicken is half cooked and garnish with the remaining half when the chicken is completely done. There is no need to add any extra water for the gravy as the chicken will leave its stock. The gravy needs to be thick
5. Serve hot with rice, sanna or chapathi

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