Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lahori Murgh Choley

Politics divide Cuisine Unites - Salam e lahore

 Every wise person I have met has one gem of an advice , read, read and read and you shall see the world , well not literally but yes if you have eyes to read and imagination which you give no reigns to you can be part of so many worlds that you feel fascinated. Lahore - the historic beautiful damsel of a city was introduced to me in "A Fine Family" Set in pre-partitioned India it did something for me. Be it the gardens described in it or the homes or everything else fascinated me. Over the years my tryst with Lahore has been through Bapsi Sidhwa, Manju Kapoor and most recently through a documentary by BBC and so upon a chance article in "The Telegraph" , Calcutta about the regal rich delciacy that Lahori cuisine offers I was set on the Murgh Chole. Robust, spicy , heavy and so tasty this one is a meal in itself. The article states that interestingly there are many a dishes with chole "chick-peas" available throughout the streets of Lahore.

Before I forget my paternal grandmother, the traveler had visited Lahore and other cities of Pakistan in 2004 and was fascinated by the beauty of our neighbouring land. Her only regret was not being able to visit SWAT valley. This is a beautiful vase bought from Lahore itself.

Anyways coming back to the Murgh chole the ingredients are not something which Indians are unfamiliar with. After all before the great nation was sliced in three halves it was one big family. While politicians are busy throwing mud at each other from across the borders thank God for such lovely people who lovingly exchange recipes. This is not for people who like things subtle and mild. This one is robust, full of spicy flavours with a rich bold taste. Cooked in pure clarified butter and served with parantha made in pure clarified butter this one is a king's or queen's meal .

800gm chicken (medium size)
350gm chickpeas "chole"
4 to 5 chopped green chilies
3 tsp coriander seeds crushed

For the dry  masala

1 stick of fat cinnamon
4 tsp cumin powder
2 heaped tsp nutmeg mace
2 heaped tsp black pepper
3 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder

Wet masala

320gm onions
300gm tomatoes
4 tsp ginger paste
4 tsp garlic paste

Other requirements
80gm clarified butter
1 tsp garam masala
1.5 cups of water

Handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
2 onions chopped in circular shapes to form rings
Mint curd - handful of mint leaves, pinch of cumin seeds, Green chili, Plain hung curd

Soak the chickpeas overnight and then boil it with coriander powder and finely chopped green chilies and salt till cooked well. Make a smooth paste of garlic and ginger. Chop the tomatoes as finely as possible. Finely slice the onions. Dry roast the spices and then grind into a smooth powder including the red chili powder. Heat the clarified butter and saute your onions till golden brown but not dark brown. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste and stir till you get that intoxicating smell. Add the spices and 1 cup of water and stir well and cook till oil separates and then add the tomatoes. Cook the masala stirring continuously for 10 minutes on low heat till oil separates again . Add the chicken pieces (medium size) and make sure it soaks up all that spice and then cover and simmer till chicken is tender and soft. It took about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Do keep checking and stirring to prevent the chicken and spices  from getting stuck to the bottom  Add the chole and half a cup of water in which the chole has been cooked and then bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with onion rings and cilantro and serve with hot chapatis made with ghee/ clarified butter with the side of mint curd and there you go with your regal lunch or dinner.

Make the mint curd by making a fine paste of mint leaves, salt and cumin seeds with  green chilies and then whisking it with homemade or store bought plain thick  curd . if thin in consistency hang it from before. Do not blend it but simply whisk this.

P.S. The mint curd helps in aiding digestion and for those who go "OOh Aah" for that robust taste this cuts down on the spices. For the superior of super taste make all the ground spices , spice powders at home.

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