It is after a long gap that we are posting a new recipe here. Lockdown zoom meetings, webinars and an attempt to encourage enough guests to keep the Sarai afloat have been the distractions in the intervening year. In some ways pandemic times seem to speed up time’s passing. Raghu’s recipes tend to be creations by instinct so he has to make them once or twice, measuring all ingredients to transcribe here.
Today’s recipe is for the carnivores: it is a chicken dish with a dominant vinegar flavour. Hence the name—sirka means vinegar in Hindi.
Good quality vinegar is essential for this. I use balsamic vinegar but good malt vinegar is a fine alternative. The recipe is a kind of fusion of continental and Indian flavours. This time the recipe was introduced to the family by my eldest sister, Vrinda, who is married to an army officer doctor.
We all loved this chicken recipe because it was completely different from the Indian masala gravy-based chicken curry we are so used to. Whenever my sister visited us, my father and I always asked her to cook it for us and I learned the recipe through watching her cook. Always my favourite as it works well with broiler chicken.
Cooking does take a bit of time and I do first tenderize the chicken with whatever is available— yoghurt, papaya, pineapple—for a couple of hours, although I don’t think my sister did this. So, this “Sirka Chicken” recipe is not exactly how my sister cooked it but is now our family recipe though it may have a few differences from the original
Sirka Chicken: Chicken with thick gravy, cooked with vinegar
Ingredients (for four servings)
|Chicken||1kg in medium-sized pieces|
|Oil||1/2 cup refined|
|Onions||four medium sized, cut into medium squares|
|Cassia bark||three 1/2 inch pieces|
|Green cardamom||2 pieces|
|Black cardamom||2 pieces, half-opened|
|Star anise||1 piece|
|Green chillies||medium hot, 3-4 cut in large 1/2 inch|
|Tomatoes||4 medium-sized pureed|
|Vinegar (dark)||2 tablespoons|
|Salt to taste||11/2teaspoon|
|Sugar||couple of pinches|
Coriander leaves to taste.
For best results use a thick-bottomed round degchi (stewpot) for this recipe. Alternatively, a thick-bottomed 4-5 litre saucepan can be used.