My little fellow is going through a phase where he is no longer interested in seafood despite the decent enough variety we manage to buy every week. All he wants now is chicken in any form. No veggies, no rice and no fish of course. If I let him choose his meals he would almost daily ask for 'chicken & chapathi'. Well, that actually means that mommy goes on a mad hunt looking for recipes that haven't already been tried and which can go well with chapathis.
This morning I must have flipped through at least 4-5 cookbooks and was almost on the verge of giving up & hunting for a recipe on the net when I came across an easy recipe in the Mangalore Ladies Club Cookery Book - my mum's birthday gift to me right after I got married. The book has been sifted through for recipes I can say, most of the recipes have been tried, but I use it mainly as a reference point because sometimes the recipes can end abruptly and I am left to my own devices to solve the suspense (which was quite a frightening experience when I first juggled with cooking).
This recipe is really one of the simplest ones I've tried and has the trademark taste of Bunt cuisine (you may have known it's one of my favourite sub-cuisines even though everything that comes under one big umbrella called 'Mangalorean' appeals to me). This one dish you can put together in a jiffy, the only real task would involve the grinding of spices and then everything is put together & placed on fire and the chicken gets done in no time. What makes it easier is that there is no coconut involved in this recipe (I am not sure if Bunts would agree with it if they have a different version of making this), so there is none of that grate-grind procedure and I am sure everyone who looks for a South Indian chicken curry without coconut will love it as well.
Just a forewarning, let the name of the dish not mislead you into thinking that it is a kind of a barbecue or kebab. This is a simple semi dry dish with chicken cut into largish pieces that tastes best when eaten with chapathis.
For the masala:
- 800 gm chicken on the bone
- 2 large onions finely chopped
- 1 medium size tomato finely chopped
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp ghee or oil
- 6-7 long dry red chillies (Bedgi) * see note
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 level tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
- 5 cloves
- 2 inches cinnamon
- 7-8 cloves of garlic
- 1 large onion roughly chopped * see note
1. Cut the chicken into large pieces, wash and drain on a colander. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section to a fine paste using a little water. Keep the masala water from the mixer jar. Marinate the chicken pieces in the ground masala & keep aside.
2. In a large wok heat the ghee or oil & fry the 2 finely chopped onions till golden brown. Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the rest of the masala. Add salt to taste and cook on a medium flame till half done. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 4-5 minutes or till the tomatoes are well blended into the curry.
3. Add the masala water from the mixer jar and adjust consistency of the gravy as required. Add the lime juice and continue to cook till chicken is fully cooked.
4. Turn off the flame & serve hot with chapathis or rice.
Bedgi/Byadge/Kundapur/Kumti chillies are what give Mangalorean cuisine its unique flavour & fragrance, especially signature dishes of the Bunt cuisine taste distinctly different when these chillies are used. If you do not find this variety of chillies you may use Kashmiri chillies which are quite low in spice and only give great colour, so you may increase the chillies upto 12-13 for a medium spicy curry. You may also use a blend of Bedgi & Harekala chillies (popularly known as short chillies or gidda menasu) for this curry.
This curry is dryish without a lot of gravy & is most suited to be eaten with Chapathis, however if you want more gravy you can add an extra onion while grinding.