28 January, 2009

Chicken : Two Unusual Preparations

Chicken was the topic and as gourmet meat eaters few of us were really great fans of the bird or white meat. This did not mean that we send away the Tandoori or the Tangdi Kebab when it is served . It just meant that given a choice we didn’t order it. So how did the bird find its way into our topic ? The talk touched upon the unusual manner of preparations of the Chicken. I had personally eaten two types in distinct locations; One at Alibaug off the coast of Mumbai and the other near the Tibetan camp at Darjeeling. They are similar in the style of preparation (both being fire baked) and eating as no knife and fork would do for them, the pleasure is to be had with your fingers.

Gorkha Recipe : ( Darjeeling)
This preparation was sampled during my Darjeeling holiday though the actual location of sampling it was somewhere in between Kurseong and Silliguri at a roadside eatery.

The bird is de-feathered but not skinned. Salt and mustard paste is rubbed on to it and the bird is pierced such that the paste seeps into the meat. Chilli flakes one tomato and 2 potatoes are cooked together into a mash and the mash is lightly coated over the mustard paste holding it in. The potato is the binder while the tomato adds to the sour body and colour. This is wrapped in large leaves of what I presumed to be Teak as the leaves were large. The whole bird marinated is thus completely sealed in the leaves with twigs almost half the size of tooth picks. Now on this package, wet clay or mud is slapped and it is rolled into a ball. The clay is around an inch thick all around and like a potter the hands making this are wet. Once the ball is ready it is rolled in dry ash. Three to four balls are rolled at the same time.

An earthen kiln with a coal fire was blazing away and the balls were placed right in the centre of the blaze. In the kiln the balls are roasted turned from time to time, while they served us DROOG an alcoholic beverage which eased the chill there. After half an hour with a metal wire tong the balls are rolled out. They are blazing hot and the brown mud has gone all dark and hard. The ball is held in the tong and with a stone rod the cook sharply tapped and it split open like a boiled egg. He peeled away the leaves and with it the clay shell, the aroma was mind blowing. He poked the bird with a skewer and served it on a bed of plain rice. The sizzling bird dripped its juices on the rice and became greasy dry yet smoked while the rice attained a gentle flavour from the spiced juice. It had cooked in its own juices and amazing was not the word for this concoction.The potato had gone hard , flaky and crumbled into the rice which was wet with the dribble from the chicken. The taste & the aroma of it from so long ago lingers on in my memory.

Its messy to eat but totally yummy, keep a lot of tissues handy if you are so particular. If one has the place for a barbecue then you should surely try this. Keep it light on spices while use good potters clay and jackfruit leaves if large teak leaves are unavailable. The fire can be coal or gas or electric. Please don’t use your domestic oven for this as the clay if not properly prepared can drip and then you can kiss one appliance goodbye.


Chicken Popati : (Alibaug)

This is a tribal preparation strictly made on occasions by the locals. This is similar in its principle to the preparation in Gujarat called Pok.

Here the Chicken is diced into bite sized pieces after being deskinned and cleaned. For one Chicken , two to four tablespoons of warm groundnut oil are taken in a cup and in this are added one green chilly vertically sliced, roughly ground pepper corns about two teaspoons, red chilly powder and two tablespoons of garam Masala. The pieces of chicken are smeared with salt and turmeric powder and kept for fifteen minutes on a flat tray. Two green tamarinds finely chopped are kept aside. Bite sized portions of vegetables like potatoes, (sliced into four quarters) tinda, cauliflower and whole tomatoes with green flat beans and string beans are kept aside.Small button onions or sweet white onions whole are peeled and added. All of these ingredients are put in an earthen pot along with the chicken. The mixture in the cup is poured over the chicken and vegetables. Two sprinklings of water are sprayed over the mixture by hand. The pot is lidded and the lid sealed with wet flour. This pot is put in a kiln and coal piled all around it and fired. The pot is removed after and hour of firing thus. The lid is cracked open and the mixture poured into a flat tray. This is an oily dry preparation and best eaten with hands. The locals like it spicy and on the ready chicken they add a dash of crushed dry red chilly flakes and green coriander. The chilly is an optional. One can have it straight or with pan baked bread or roti.

These preparations do not find a place in restaurant menu's but if you have friends there or camp out and trek in these parts, then a villager can be coaxed into preparing them for you. Also if you do have access to an earthen furnace and the provision for a barbecue then go ahead and make it at home and have a blast..

(The images shown above are representative purposes only..just to make ur mouth water even more. They closely resemble the way the above dishes turn out on the plate )

4 comments:

abak said...

Sense of taste and smell have long lasting memory....

To convey and let others perceive these thru sense of sight(ie I can perceive only what u write)requires extraordinary effort not only on the part of the writer, but also on the part of reader...
Hence here is a resounding blurp ....

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

:-)Thank you..we do sample some unique stuff in our journeys and the memory lies hidden deep.

One is the memory and second is the recipe, both should not fade away is the intent...some day i shall make it..till then why not let others try it

jaya said...

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Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Thanks Jaya...