Granny (Ammachi) used to keep lots of chicken at our traditional home in Kerala. Fish was staple. But then there were “occassions” when we guys would land up and her roosters would disappear. A squeak and it’s over. It wasn’t like we have it now. Feathers were plucked and the poor creature was dipped in hot boiling water till every tiny feather was off. The skin would be removed and set aside to extract its oil which is said to have medicinal properties (I think, for burns). Of course we kids saw none of these chicken – souls tragedies. Absolute delicious aroma would waft up to the terrace and atop mango trees and we would follow the aroma to the long dining table. Those were some days!!
1 kg chicken
2 cups shallots and 2 onions, thinly sliced
mustard seeds, 1 tsp
fennel seeds , 2 tsp
curry leaves, a few
Make a paste of:
10-15 garlic pods
5 green chillies
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Marinate the chicken with salt and 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and the above paste and set aside for at least an hour. Overnight marination gives the best results.
Heat coconut oil in a hard bottomed pan (urali is the best vessel to prepare this in).
When the oil is just about hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the shallots, onions and the curry leaves and fennel and fry till the onions become caramel brown.
Add the marinated chicken. Check the salt level and adjust if needed. Stir it on high flame till the masala seems to change colour. Then reduce the flame; close the dish and allow to cook on low flame till the chicken is done.
It should be almost dry by the time it is done, but not “dried out”! Usually, one doesn’t need to add any water. It will cook in its own juices.
Serve with hot rice/ kerala porotta/appams.
– Courtesy Shany Abraham