Chicken Rezala1:25 PM
To be a mother of two is a tiring job to say the least. back breaking, head banging, hair tearing and maddening too. I know you will say its a beautiful feeling, to which I wholeheartedly agree...but being a mom of two, 24X7...trust me at times its just way too much to handle. Add to that the unbearable heat and humidity in Kolkata (40-42C) and a 'never there when you need' house help.
I often find myself telling others that raising the second kid is way more difficult than the first one. Its not only the works are double but Making the elder one comfortable around the kid without making him feeling neglected is a real task. not to say doing everything while taking care of a baby who constantly needs your attention.
Its a constant battle for me to keep the son entertained and the daughter in her playful mood. Some days are good and other days I chant Hanuman Chalisa under clenched teeth. The constant running around, crafting, playing, singing, cooking, feeding and the daily chores drain out all my energy. By the time its evening my head starts to spin and ears start to buzz. So once Hubby is home and is refreshed I hand over the kids to him and enter the bathroom. Shut the door and just sit there for 15 minutes. Trust me I just sit there to relax myself, to give my ears and brain some moments of respite. The silence, the tranquility of those moments are really therapeutic, and thats the luxury that a mother of two can afford.
But thank God it finally rained today. With the temperature coming down a little bit I have got the courage to post this recipe for Chicken Rezala. A very famous Awadhi dish mainly available in and around Kolkata. While growing up my Foodie uncle often told us stories of the famous restaurants serving Mughlai cuisine. For him Sabir's chicken Rezala, Shiraz's Biriyani and the rolls, kebabs, chanps, curries of Aminia, Nizam and Royal India made Kolkata a must visit place. I could not back his thoughts then but now I believe he was right. These iconic restaurants from ages are nonchalantly dishing out food that make Kolkata's Culinary scenario so exciting.
The Rezala for instance is a so called white gravy dish yet has so much of complex flavours and layers of taste. Its pale white semi thick gravy is smooth like silk and glides through your tastebud without being heavy. Its rich, its creamy, it has that perfect balance of sweetness to heat. Add to that the juicy succulent pieces of meat. Tearing your bread and soaking it in this milky gravy is a pleasure in itself. If you have not done that yet I request you to try this recipe that I have developed after many a trial and error.
I have seen many in the blogosphere cook the chicken rezala in Pressure cooker but I dont prefer that mode for cooking chicken. It hardly takes any time to cook once you have got all your ingredients at place and I dont think the people in the restaurants use the short cut. Still if you are not convinced follow the pressure cooker route.
Source: minimally adapted from a show called Just Ranna
Chicken: 500-600 gms (cut in big pieces. say 5-6 pieces)
Onion: 2 medium
Garlic: 3-4 fat cloves
Thick yogurt: 1 cup (see notes)
Cashew: 5-6 (whole)
Poppy seeds: 1/2 tsp
Whole dry chilies: 3-4
Whole clove: 4-5
Whole green cardamom: 2
Whole black cardamom: 1
Cinnamon: 2" stick
Peppercorns : 6-8
Nutmeg powder: fat pinch
Oil: 3 tbsp
Ghee: 3 tbsp
Pepper powder: 1/3 tsp or as per taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Kewra water: few drops (see Here)
Mitha ittar: few drops (see Here)
Wash and drain all the water from the chicken.
Peel, chop and grind the onion-ginger-garlic to a smooth paste. (very important to make it smooth)
Soak the cashew and make a amooth paste with poppy seeds.
Beat the yogurt till smooth and add to the chicken, along with the spice paste, salt, nutmeg powder and pepper powder. Mix and keep aside at least for an hour. est if you can marinate it for 4-5 hours.
Once you are ready to cook Heat the oil and ghee. Lightly pound (just one or two stroke for the pods to open and release more aroma) the whole spices and add to the oil. Let it sizzle and fill up your kitchen with lovely aroma. Shake off the marinate from the chicken and arrange them on the pan, preferably in single layer. on medium heat seal the chicken and cook till all sides turn white. Now pour in all the marinade and mix.
Cook for 8-10 minutes and the add the poppy seeds paste. cook for a minute and pour 3/4 cup warm water. Check the seasoning and cover. Let it simmer on low heat till oil starts to float on top and the chicken is cooked through.
Uncover and add the sugar, keowra water and mitha Ittar. Keep covered till you are ready to serve.
Serve hot with hot Naan/ Tandoori roti/ or fulka/chapathi.
Make sure to stir the pot before serving .
A Homemaker's Notes:
Use fresh not so sour yogurt for best result. I use homemade yogurt set with Cow milk.
You can also blend a green chili or two with onion.
For regular eating this is one amazing dish. You dont have to do much and its healthier if you lessen the amount of fat used in it. just use 3 tbsp of oil and ghee mixture.
This recipe works really well with paneer and sturdy veggies like potatoes and cauliflowers.