Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chicken Kofta with Aromatic Rice




"Kissing don't last. Cookery do!"
(~George Meredith)


While I'm not too sure about the "kissing" bit, I am absolutely certain about the "cookery" part! It goes on forever, from generation to generation. Home recipes, culinary traditions, particular flavors and aromas get embedded into the system and one can't escape the yearning for that certain dish or that unique touch which cooks up a taste that titillates the taste-buds. So yes, "Cookery certainly do (last forever)"

I have developed a taste for foods of various places, and actually long for them at times. I could cook them I suppose, but that one teeny-weeny bit would be missing. This is what sends us to old haunts time and again; or searching for new foods, trying new recipes...adding to it, fusing it with our own to become acceptable to our homes, and thus developing new dishes out of old ones, while still retaining the basic character of the old. Having said that, I have to admit, there are a few dishes I simply refuse to make because I want to retain the memory of the flavor and that magical touch of my mother's hands. That's what food is all about. It sustains life in more ways than one!

So let's get on with contributing to cookery and infusing it with more life through sharing recipes, tips, and perhaps some culinary secrets!! If I am hoping for too much, so be it...I love cooking, and entertaining (read 'feeding') and nothing gives me more contentment and joy. Here's to a great kofta curry I'm sure you'll enjoy.
Like all my cooking, this too is easy, simple, basic but contributes to a great food experience.



Ingredients:

For The Rice:

Basmati rice.........as much required

Adjust the quantity of the following according to the amount of rice used. The given amounts are approximate measures for 3 small katoris of uncooked rice, apprx 225-235 gms

Star anise..........1 small star or 1/2 of a big one
Cinnamon.........1 stick, 1" long
Cloves...............3
Bay leaf............1
Desi ghee.........4-5 tbsps, melted ghee
Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Wash and soak the rice for 20-25 minutes. Drain out water.
Heat some olive oil in a non stick pan. Lower to medium. Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise.
Add the rice. Very carefully turn the rice around in a lift-turn-drop motion about three or four times, until all the rice is covered with oil and mildly roasted.
Add a double measure of water; the standard measure being 1:2. One measure rice, two measures water.
Give a gentle stir. Raise heat. Cover.
When the water reaches boiling point, steam will escape from under the lid. Lower the heat to low.
Cook for about 8-10 minutes. It should be done by then. However, it depends on the quality and variety of the rice. I have found that some brands of basmati take a tad longer than other brands of basmati. So check it after 8 minutes.
If the rice is done, remove lid. Pour 4-5 tbsps of melted desi ghee all over the rice. Leave it uncovered for a couple of minutes to allow excess steam to evaporate. Then cover. Do not keep it uncovered too long, the rice will dry out and harden.

Remove the flavour enhancers before serving.


For The Koftas:


Chicken mince.....................425-500gms
Onion...................................1/2 of a medium one, chopped very small
Ginger.................................1" by 1" crushed to a paste
Garlic..................................1-2 big cloves, crushed to a paste
(For best results make fresh paste, do not use packaged goods)
Green chilli........................acc to taste, de-seeded, chopped very, very fine
Fresh coriander................(aka cilantro)I use a generous handful (my hands are small!) chopped fine
Fresh mint........................3-4 leaves, chopped fine. You could use good quality dry mint leaves too. just crush them
Egg..................................1 large, whipped lightly
Roasted, skinless black chickpeas (Bhuna Chana)........3 tbsps, ground into a fine powder OR if you don't have 'bhuna chana' use 2 tbsps of besan (gram flour) Dry roast the besan on low heat, stirring constantly, until it releases a nice 'bhuna chana' aroma. It should have changed into a delicate brown color not dark.
Red chilli pwdr to taste
Salt to taste
Garam masala, preferably home-made......1 or 1'n' 1/4 tsp
Coriander pwdr (optional).........................1 tsp

To make the koftas:


It is best to prepare the mixture after you have got the curry going. As the koftas have to be dropped in as soon as they are made. The mixture has a sort of 'loose character' and so the koftas don't retain shape if left to stand. However if you make them and drop them into boiling curry, they immediately hold their shape. Sounds intimidating, but trust me, it's very simple and easy. I don't do hard...Just go for it.

Mix all the ingredients, except egg and besan/powdered black chickpea, into the mince and mix well so all the items meld. Use your hands for this. It's the best way to incorporate all the spices into the mince. So get your hands dirty!

When this is accomplished, add the egg, mix it in well.

Now that the egg is mixed in add the roasted besan or powdered skinless black gram. Follow the same procedure of mixing/kneading with the hands, or you will get blobs of gram flour stuck inside the mince. The mixture will be a bit on the limpish side, that's alright.


For The Curry:

Onion...........................................................1 large, grated or chopped very small
Garlic: 3-4 cloves, Ginger: 1/2 " pc............crush both into a paste
Whole green chillies.....................................2-3, large ones
Yoghurt (thick, no whey).............................4-5, slightly heaped tbsps
Coriander pwdr..........................................3 level tsps
Saunf(aniseed): 1 tsp, Pepper corns:10-12, green cardamom: 4-5, use seeds only. Dry grind these together in a mortar. (I do not recommend pre-ground packed powders, use freshly ground mixture) Make a fairly fine mixture. It need not be so fine as to go through a fine sieve, but neither should it be so coarse that it gets under the teeth and has to be chewed into a paste.
Cinnamon..................................................2 sticks, each 1" long
Kalonji (Nigella seeds) optional................two small pinches
Bay leaf.....................................................3-4 small leaves
Kashmiri Red Chilli pwdr.........................acc to taste
Turmeric...................................................1/4 tsp
Potato......................................................1 small, peeled and halved across the breadth
Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) Optional......two pinches, crushed in the palm of the hand.
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil


Whip the yoghurt lightly to make it smooth. Add the red chilli, turmeric, and coriander to the yoghurt and mix well.
Heat oil in a deep pan, Add the cinnamon, bay leaves, kalonji and grated onion. 
Cook on medium heat, stirring from time to time, so that the onions brown evenly.
When the onions start to brown, lower the heat, add the garlic-ginger paste. Stir for a couple of seconds.
It's time to add the yogurt mixture. This has to be handled deftly to get a great curry.
Keep about 6-7 cups of water at hand, before you add the curd mixture.
Now, raise the heat and add the yogurt quickly, while stirring briskly, continuously. Keep the bowl for the masala wash, do not put it away. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken and reduce in quantity.
Add the powdered saunf-pepper-cardamom at this stage. Keep stirring. When the masala reduces further and becomes a sort of thick mass, lower heat to minimum.
Pour in half the quantity of water you had kept at hand at the start.
Mix into the yogurt to liquefy the thickened mixture. Then add the rest of the water too, and raise the heat.
Add salt according to taste.

While the curry is heating, add 4-5 cups of water to the bowl in which the yogurt sat. Swirl it around to make a nice masala wash. Retain.

When the curry begins to boil add the masala wash and continue to boil.

Time to start on the koftas. Keep time in mind as you have to form each kofta ball and drop them immediately into the boiling curry. Remember the curry should be bubbling.

Make one or two at time. Before you put in the mince balls, add the two halves of potato. 

When you add the koftas to the curry, gently give each a turn. Continue until you use all the mince. I make 9-10 koftas out of this amount of mince. However, you can go by your requirement or preference and vary the size.

Now that all the mince balls are boiling away in the curry, cover the pan and continue cooking on medium heat. Keep stirring and turning the koftas around from time to time, to cook evenly.

Also check for quantity of curry as koftas tend to soak up a considerable amount of liquid. You can keep adding a little water at a time. But be careful you don't overdo it. Although this dish has a thin gravy, you don't want an overly diluted one.

Check the potatoes by piercing them. As soon as the potatoes are soft and easy to break, you can be sure the koftas are well done.

Before you remove it from the fire, drop in the whole green chillies, and sprinkle the garam masala. If you are using kasuri methi, add that too. Stir.

Cover and allow to simmer for a few seconds. Check one last time for salt.

Serve hot with aromatic ghee rice or do palli rotis. For recipe of Do Palli roti check: Apricot-Salli Chicken with Do Palli Roti under the label non veg.

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