Friday, February 25, 2011

Idlis with Chicken Curry

The "Pure Vegetarian" tag for all South Indians is a misnomer - just like all South Indians are not Madrasis. (Yes, Mr Haldiram - please stop calling your product "Madrasi Mixture"?) Husband's maternal side for instance is quite the meat eating family (except for his mother who is a pure vegetarian and hence he - like me- was vegetarian growing up). In many families, meals are not complete with "atleast" an egg - thus leading to the queer combination of (for me) rice, sambar, rasam, porial and omelette!!
Sunday meals then, are usually the ones which have a variety of meat, chicken and fish dishes in . I didn't understand for a long time, why everyone from my in-laws side who used to call us up on a Sunday would enquire about the lunch menu - were they worried about my husband's diet?. I realised later, that it was a blanket question - a way of keeping in touch - if you know what's cooking, you can judge whether everything is fine....or something like that. Well, anyway, there never was meat at Sunday lunch for a very long time in our home (even now its probably just once or twice a month), so not sure what they thought about that.

Growing up, idlis in our vegetarian home, always went with sambar and chutney.  I was quite taken aback therefore when I moved to Chennai and learnt that chicken curry was an option too. I'm still quite happy with our largely vegetarian breakfasts but some Sundays, if I'm organised enough to have ground the batter for the idlis AND have chicken in my fridge at the same time, we have a nice, big breakfast of soft,steaming idlis with chicken curry.

The chicken curry however, can't be any generic curry - it has to be mild enough so that I'm not put off by too many spices in the morning. But it also has to be delicious and not just taste of the chicken in it. Enter a coconut based curry - more specifically, the restaurant style sidedish (try this for a vegetarian option which is equally delicious)I posted before. I had adapted it from Sailu's Kitchen in the first place and now its been modified some more. Its still delicious though and is the perfect accompaniment to idlis or even dosais.

Idli (feeds 4 for two days)

Parboiled Rice - 2 cup
Urad Dal (whole, skinned) - 1 cup
I usually make dosais on the second day from the same batter, so add a pinch of methi seeds to the rice while soaking 

Soak the rice and dal separately overnight or for 4-5 hours

Grind the rice, leaving it a little bit coarse. 
The urad dal needs to be ground till really smooth and fluffly. So grind slowly and adding water only as needed.
If grinding in a blender, grind in batches and give breaks so that it doesn't overheat.
Blend the rice batter and the urad dal batter together incorporating air into it while doing so. I usually use my hands to do this. Add salt to the batter to taste. 

Keep in a vessel double the volume of the batter, because it will double as it ferments. Leave overnight to ferment.

The next day, grease an idli stand and fill each mould 3/4ths of the way up with the idli batter (for idlis, I don't mix the batter and just skim from the top of the risen batter). 
Steam in a pressure cooker without the whistle or in an idli maker or any other big vessel which can accomodate the idli stand - 5 minutes on high and 5 minutes on a low flame. Rest for 5 minutes and then unmould.

Chicken Curry (with coconut and tomatoes)
2 onions, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, in 4 pieces
Chicken - 300 gm, boneless, cut into 1" pieces. I like to marinate the chicken for about an hour in turmeric powder(1/4tsp), salt and ginger garlic paste (1 tsp) - a tbsp of yoghurt is great too

Dry roast and grind:
poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1 tsp (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes)
2-3 cashewnuts (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes)
1/4 cup grated coconut

Grind to a paste :
1 " ginger piece
3 green chillies
4 garlic cloves

1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/4 tsp cumin powder (jeera)
pinch of garam masala powder

1tbsp oil
curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods (elaichi)

1 Heat oil in a pan and add cloves, cinnamon,curry leaves and cardamom. When they change colour (about 2 minutes) add onions and fry till transparent.
2.Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste, fry for 2-3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric,coriander and cumin powders and mix well.
3. Add the marinated chicken and stir fry on high for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes. Put in the coconut-cashew paste and fry for 5 minutes on a low flame, stirring from time to time.
5. Add salt, 2 cups of water and bring to boil; lower flame and simmer for 20-25 minutes till the chicken is cooked and the curry turns creamy. Remove from flame and serve with idlis.


Arch said...

Oh, I totally agree with you on the 'Madrasi' tag and the impression of all South Indians being vegetarian !!
I was startled with the combinations available with idli / dosa at Ponnusamy in Chennai..and S wanting omelette with rasam rice !!

Anita said...

It has been bookmarked!

I think it is ok to call the mixture 'Madrasi' which plausibly could have been the place of inspiration for the recipe. It is, however, not ok to call all our friends from the South of Indian as Madrasi (unless we are talking about those who really are from Madras/Chennai)! That reeks of ignorance and worse.

indosungod said...

Yes Miri, I get a bit peeved when all Indians are put in the Vegetarian category.

Looks so good. Chicken curry with idli or dosai is just the kick for a week end breakfast. Lightly spiced but made with generous amounts of coconut milk.

I have been (made to) working even on weekends ignoring my family. But this combo will make them forgive me in a jiffy.

For me non-veg has to be on weekends which we still follow.

sharada said...

nice combinatiobn idli and chicken curry...i can smell the aroma.
You have a very nice space.

Priya said...

Yummy and fabulous breakfast or dinner, i dont bother to have them anytime..

Manisha said...

Yes! Yes! I'm making this tonight! We have idlis for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What marinade do you use for your chicken?

bindiya said...

dipping the soft idlis into the curry ...yummm!

Miri said...

Anita, they could have called it Madras Mixture! :)

Thanks Sharada and Priya

Manisha - salt, turmeric amd ginger garlic paste is good enough.

Soma said...

that plate of idli and chicken curry looks so comforting, may be because it is the warmth and familiarity of the steel plates and katori - I have never had idli with chicken curry! But I bet dunked in that delicious gravy it is going to be really really good!

Miri said...

Soma - I love eating on thalis - unmatched :)

bee said...

thank you, miri, for this great recipe and for pointing out that south indian does not mean "vegetarian" by default.

Bong Mom said...

I really need to know more South Indians who will serve Idli with Chicken Curry. I love Idli with chutney or podi best though and am not sure if I will like these people better ;-)

But yes, there is a notion that all South Indian barring maybe Andhraites and Keralites are staunch vegetarians. My 2 year stint at B'lore more than confirmed it. There were people who didn't look upon my love for egg & chicken nicely :-D

Thank god the B'lore restaurant owners did not think the same way.

Miri said...

There are many people in Mumbai who will not look upon a love for egg and chicken favourably...lots of them in fact. Including onion and garlic avoiders. But that doesn't mean that the others don't exist ;)

Bong Mom said...

Didn't know about the Mumbai sentiment. My peeve being no non-veg canteen food in B'lore compared to lovely Biryani at office cafeteria in B'bay :-D I can be cheap that way.

But recently have discovered good Chettinad restaurants around here. To die for non-veg.

Miri said...

Hmm...that makes me think back to all the canteen food I have had/seen - and no non-veg for some reason. Maybe spoilage/hygiene/cultural issues?

I know many vegetarians in the South will not even eat in a place where non veg is also being served because of the fact that the same utensils/cooking facilities may have been used to cook both food.

Now Mumbai, we aren't as fussy - we don't have the luxury of being fussy when you are crammed like sardines end to end :)

Kitchen Flavours said...

Love that combo...totally agree with u on South Indian thing...when i got married and shifted away from sunday when i made bread for mil aked who is sick in the house...then i said i made bread toast....hmmm...

sra said...

I seem to have missed a lively discussion here!

In my home and most homes I know, non-veg (and sweet) at breakfast is a no-no. So when a cousin went to the AP-TN border to visit family by marriage, I hear she came back gagging from the large amounts of meat served up at all three meals. I myself find the idea of meat early in the morning a bit difficult to take - not that I haven't had the odd sausage when I've travelled!

In fact, I never realised idli and dosa were eaten with meat till I got introduced to friends from TN and Kerala in college - I never realised idli and dosa (and other tiffins) were eaten for lunch and dinner, in fact! :)

nina said...

great pic raji! the thali looks great even to a conformed veggie like me. My older brother used to swear by the idli and beef curry combo made by some cart-chef in Madras; and he loves his curd rice with a meat curry on the side too!

my adventures with non-cnformist food combos begin and end with banana and idlipodi sandwiches!