Here's a question: Does chicken, beef or seafood taste better in India? To me, the answer is most definitely yes.
I've tried free range chicken, poussins, and fryers. Ive noticed that chickens here, whichever the variety, cook very quickly and seem to be mostly made up of water judging by the amount of water they release. Also if you make it Indian-style, the masala you spent so much time, frying, grinding, sniffing at and standing over tenderly just doesnt seem to get into the chicken.
Whats the point then if the flavor is all outside?You might as well not bother with the chicken. Just scoop the masala straight from the stove into your mouth and chomp some chicken after it.
But not if you slow-cook it. Then it becomes meltingly tender, oozing with flavor and character.
I now get my chicken from the halal store...all nicely cut up and ready to cook. No mess, no fuss. Is there any truth to the premise that Halal chicken tastes better? Unfortunately, I dont see any difference. What I like is that its all cut up for you.
As for cooking it, I have to say that J is the man when it comes to Indian non-veg dishes. And our friends know it. The response when they hear his kerala style beef fry is on the menu verges somewhere near the intersection of giddiness and ecstasy. (You know who you are.hmmph)
We wanted something different for dinner today so we made chettinad chicken pepper fry.
It was a collaborative effort. I bought the chicken from the store and J made it.
Hey! why mess with a good thing?
The dish itself brings good memories of a restaurant in Chennai- a regular haunt for many of us. The chicken is redolent of pepper, spice and all things nice... It looks like a million bucks and tastes like more.
And we think it attained a higher level of deliciousness because we used the tomatoes from our garden. Of course we do.
The recipe was adapted from a couple of books and a website, so here's our version...
Chettinad Chicken Pepper Fry
chicken- 1 (cut into small pieces)
Vegetable oil- 2 tbsp
Garlic- 2 cloves
Ginger- 1 inch piece
Onions - 2 diced fine
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Crushed black peppercorns - 1 1/2 tbsp.
Tomatoes (peeled and diced)- 3/4 cup
White vinegar- 2 tbsp
Salt- as needed
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Marinate the chicken pieces with half the chilli, coriander and turmeric powders.
Place a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Heat the oil and fry the onions, garlic and ginger till golden brown.
Lower the heat to medium and add all the powders and the peppercorns and saute till the raw smell disappears, about 4 minutes .
Add the tomatoes and salt and saute till the tomatoes cook, about 5 minutes. At this point the masala should become so well integrated that it forms a ball in the pan. Add the vinegar.
Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them thoroughly with the masala.
Lower the heat to medium low, cover the vessel, and let it cook for about 30 minutes. The chicken will release water so there should be no need to add more. Check occasionally and add water if needed.
In the meantime, hard-boil an egg.
When the chicken is almost dry, remove from the fire and serve hot. Garnish with the boiled egg and coriander leaves. Serve with fragrant basmati rice or rotis/paratas.