Friday, January 23, 2009
Electricity cuts were pretty much the norm almost every Thursday evening in the small town that I grew up in. Like everyone else, for the longest of time, we hated those electricity cuts as well. It meant missing the weekly Chhayageet* on Doordarshan* (after all, back then we didn't have too much of a choice in TV programs, did we?).
But one day a dhaba* opened in the vicinity of our house. And one such Thursday, when the power was out, my dad went and got some tandoori chicken from there. Sitting there in the balcony, with a few candles burning, the smell of kachuaa chaap, Vividh Bharati* belting out some hindi songs, eating the succulent chicken was an amazing experience.
Soon our attitude to those much hated power cuts changed. Now, we'd wait for the power cut - it wasn't as if papa wouldn't have bought the chicken any other day if we'd have asked him to - but there was something magical about eating it on the power cut nights.
And even now, whenever I eat tandoori chicken, no matter where I am or with whom I am, my mind goes back to those lovely Thursday tandoori chicken nights.
Chicken - 6 legs, skinless
for the marinade:
Juice of 1 lemon
Thick yoghurt - 1/2 cup
Cream - 3 tbsps
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tbsps
Red chilli powder, tandoori chicken masala, salt - to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Orange colour - a few drops
Oil for basting
Coal - 1 large piece
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and let the chicken marinate for at least 6-8 hrs (the longer, the better).
Just before grilling, heat the coal till it becomes red hot. Place in a small steel bowl and place the bowl in the centre of the vessel with the marinating chicken. Pour the ghee on top of the coal and when it starts smoking, cover the vessel tightly for about 5 mins. This gives the tandoori chicken a lovely smoky flavour.
Grill till the juices run clear as per your oven/microwave instructions.
I serve this with a spicy onion salad. Just slice the onions, add salt, sugar, lime juice, chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and mango pickle.
(*chhayageet - a weekly programme featuring songs from Bollywood movies broadcast on the national TV channel Doordarshan.
Vividh bharati - radio channel
kachuaa chaap - mosquito repellent
dhaba - small open air restaurants, usually found along highways catering mainly to truck drivers)
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!