Secrets and scoops, clothes and coffee, wisdom and wine - girlfriends share it all. And what better way to do all this than over a long, lazy lunch on a lovely winter's day?! A mid week holiday is one of the best things to happen to a working woman trying to juggle half a dozen things. So when one came my way last week I started thinking of all the chores I could finish - the gas ordering, buying winter clothes, claims, bank work.
Midway I paused and thought to myself - life is too short to let a whole day pass by without enjoying it. I decided to spend time with my daughter and do something for myself too. Called up the usual suspects - girlfriends I have made in the past one year and who have become really good friends. Two of them couldn't make it but two others did. R's daughter is my daughter's best friend so she came along too and they had a ball while the three of us chatted and caught up over lunch.
I planned some simple home food - Sambar, cabbage porial, steamed rice and salad. I decided to make a spicy chicken curry. Kozhi Vartha Curry seemed to be the perfect dish to go with the Tamil meal, so I dug out my trusted recipe - it is heavily (very heavily) adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe and I have found it works best for me. Kozhi means chicken in Tamil, Vartha refers to frying the chicken pieces.
It turned out quite fiery and had the right amount of sourness to make it a perfect accompaniment to the steamed rice. The sambar ended up being slurped out of bowls in true non-South Indian style :) - the same as this one but with pumpkin in it.
It was one of those really nice afternoons when you really don't know how time passes - we discussed everything under the sun - school admissions (trying), the terrorist attack (outrageous and tragic), the Faberge exhibition on at the National Museum (fabulous), Dostana(terrible), the new Bond movie (disapoointing), pending book lists (long) - and before we knew it it was 5 pm!
I'm glad I picked the lunch over chores - my inbuilt guilt mechanism ensured I finished my chores over the weekend. So what would you have chosen - hope my story encourages some of you to treat yourself sometimes!
Kozhi Vartha Curry
Chicken - 800 gms cut into 12- 14 pieces
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - pinch
Yoghurt - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - 2 " piece
Garlic - 6-8 cloves
Red chillies - 4
Oil - 1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 5-6
Onions - 2 chopped fine
Tomatoes - 3 chopped fine
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp or a juice extracted from a marble size ball.
1. Clean the chicken and marinate in yoghurt, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt mixture for atleast 2 hours.
2. Grind the masala ingredients to a smooth paste adding water as needed.
3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the curry leaves and the chopped onions and saute for 4 minutes on low.
4. Add the chicken pieces along with the marinade and masala paste and fry on high for 5-7 minutes allowing each side to sear till it turns a bit brown before turning it over.
5. Add the chopped tomato and fry till it is mushy, then add the coriander powder and salt and fry for about 2 minutes.
6. Add 1 cup water and bring to boil, reduce flame and cook covered for about 12-15 minutes till the chicken is tender.
7. Adjust the salt, add the tamarind pulp and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
8. Add the garam masala and crushed black pepper and remove from flame - serve with steamed rice.
Notes: the recipe is quite spicy, reduce a couple of chillies if you like it less spicy.
I also removed a couple of pieces from the marinade and grilled it for about 20 minutes at 180C - it was well flavoured and juicy.