Chili Chicken (dry)8:45 AM
In many ways living in a new country is intimidating. especially when you don’t speak the similar language to express yourself. The first few days are fun as you go out and keep telling yourself how different, how good everything is. You sigh and you wish things were similar back home. you go out almost everyday, explore new places, taste new food, some you like some you don’t but they have an occupying effect on you. You go to bed exhausted, get a good sleep dreaming of all things good and nice that you saw in the day.
Then after a few weeks these initial excitements sink in, you start missing home. you miss every mundane thing. your day to day life, your weekly visit to the bazaar, that familiar taste of shukto lightly scented with Jharna ghee or the simple mere objects like your favourite pink pillow or how the morning sun used to stream in through the curtains. You miss everything but the thing you miss most is your parents, your family.
You pine to share your new adventure with your brother. When your son bravely enjoys the bungee trampoline you want your parents to be there to shout and clap with you. And you miss them more when suddenly one afternoon the kid wakes up and starts crying, blaming you for bringing him away from his Dadubhai. You need to put a brave face on as you don’t have the heart or the answer to tell him the truth.
Then one day while shopping you find your son talking to a stranger, you rush towards him to take him away but stop in the midway to see how happy he is. The old lady seems to be doting on your kid and you get the same twinkling in his eyes too. You silently watch them talking to each other in two completely different languages and are amazed to realize how everything made perfect sense. The old lady greets you when you near them and forms a fine sign with her fingers to tell you that your’s is such a well behaved kid. The lines on her face tells many stories but all you can see right now is the same joy that your mother gets when she meets her grand kids.
now every time The little one sees any elderly person on the road he approaches them, says Hi and gets unconditional love and affection in return. Every time he falls on the ground or hurt himself, they are the people who reaches for him even before his parents could reach.
There definitely is a similar thread of familiarity running every where, irrespective of the time, country or the culture...all you need is to open your heart to receive it.
The recipe has nothing to do with this feeling. It was cooked on a rainy windy and chilly day when the son finally declared 'ami akhon jhal khete pari.' (I can eat spicy food). This is the quintessential red colour and taste enhancer sprinkled dry chili chicken. Just the kind you get from your favourite street side vendor in Kolkata, deep fried, tender chicken pieces in super spicy coating gravy with tons of green chilies and cubed onions. It’s one of the most favourite recipe that a meat eating Indian will like to order at any restaurant, its that special Indo-Chinese dish which you will get everywhere in India but would never see anywhere in China.
Dry Chili Chicken
Chicken breast: 2 pieces
Green capsicum; 1 large
Onion: 1 large
Ginger: 1/2 " piece
Garlic paste: 4-5 fat cloves
Garlic: 2/3 fat cloves
Green chilies: 7-8, I used really hot chilies but you use as per your heat quotients
Vinegar: 2 tbsp+1/2 tbsp
Pepper powder: ½ tsp
soy sauce: 2 tbsp+1 tsp
chili sauce: 2 tbsp
Kethcup: 2 tsp
Kashmiri red chili pepper: 1 tsp (optional but gives this reddish hue)
Corn flour: 21/2 tbsp+2 tbsp
oil for deep frying
sugar: 1/3 tsp
few springs of spring onion chopped.
oinch of red food colour (optional) I used.
pound or make a paste of the ginger-garlic and 3-4 green chilies.
mince the rest of the garlic, peel and cut the onion and capsicum in cubes.
cut the chicken breasts in small (1") cubes. place the pieces in a bowl with 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, ginger-garlic paste and pepper powder. mix and keep aside for min 1 hour.
once you are ready to prepare the dish heat oil in a deep bottom pan. once its heating add 1 beaten egg and 21/2 tbsp of corn flour to the chicken and mix till it coats the pieces. Carefully drop the pieces in the hot oil and fry till golden on medium flame. do not over crowd the pan as the corn flour will
Make the stick to one another. drain on kitchen paper.
Mix 2 tbsp of corn flour to 3/4 cup of water and keep aside.
If you are using the same pan then take out almost all the oil and keep only a tbsp. add the chopped garlic and 3-4 slited green chillies. Fry on medium till a nice aroma rises. immediately add the onions an with a pinch of salt saute it for a minute. add the capsicum and saute for few seconds. add all the sauces and 1/2 tbsp vinegar to this. mix in the chicken stir well with salt, sugar and pepper powder. once it starts to sizzle add the mixture of corn flour and water (give it a good stir just before adding). on low heat stir it continuously to coat all the chicken and veggies well. taste and adjust the seasoning. let it simmer on medium till all the gravy gets absorbed and the chicken pieces are shiny.
sprinkle the chopped spring onion and serve hot. with rice, fried rice, noodles or as snacks with evening cuppa.