I am bitten by the Retro bug. Don’t Google the word. There is no meaning to it. It’s just that of late I have been doing things the old fashioned way. Actually it started one fine day a few weeks ago,when I was flipping the pages of my old hand written recipe book. It is a collection of heirloom recipes from my grand moms, which have been handed down through generations. The pages had all come loose and I wanted to transfer the recipes into a new book for fear of losing the priceless treasure. As I turned each page they took me down memory lane. each recipe has its own story,the visual setting,the aroma,the flavors and the sounds associated with the first time I tasted it. I have been trying these recipes in my kitchen a number of times(the loose pages are enough proof). No doubt they turn out delicious but there is always something missing. The ingredients were all there,the procedure was the same but that particular aroma,that finger licking deliciousness,that oomph factor was missing in the recreated dish which took it one notch lower than the original. That set me thinking.
Those were not the days of ready made spices or sauces,frozen or processed foods,of high end gadgets like microwaves or food processors.I remember my gramma telling me how they used to pound their own spices,used natural farm fresh ingredients and cooked in clay pots and when they cooked people at the other end of the lane could guess the dish by the aroma wafting in the air. They didn’t churn out fancy gourmet dishes but whatever they cooked was pure,unadulterated,healthy and delicious. That was when I decided to make a few changes in my kitchen. I introduced copper bottles for drinking and storing water. I buy organic whole wheat take it to the flour mill and get it grinded under my watchful eye, roast and pound my spices fresh everyday, buy fresh meats, use homemade butter/ghee and last but not the least started cooking in Clay Pots 🙂 . I am sure my family and my house helps are highly amused at my new found fascination and guessing I will tire myself out of it. But enjoying the dishes they definitely are.
Clay pot cooking which was once popular in India is catching up again not only for its numerous health benefits but also for the earthen flavors and aroma which it imparts to the food cooked in it.Clay being alkaline in nature neutralizes the pH balance in the food and makes it healthier and tastier. The porous nature of clay pots helps the moisture and aroma to stay in the pot ,cooking the food slowly and making it flavorsome. Meats cooked in clay pots are succulent and fall of the bone.
My first clay pot dish was Chicken korma made with all fresh ingredients. My kitchen is on the first floor of the house and while I was still cooking this dish, my domestic help who works on the afternoon shift came hurriedly up to me and asked “Bhabhi what are you cooking. I could smell the delicious aroma even outside the house”
Ahhh!! The verdict was out. Even before we tasted the dish.
And true to it’s aroma, the chicken korma turned out absolutely delicious….finger licking good.
If you haven’t tried clay pot cooking and want to bring back the old world charm in your cooking, this is the right time. If you can, try and procure earthen pots from your local potter. Otherwise what is Amazon for. Order them online like I did and get cooking….
- 1 Chicken (preferably country fowl) cut into 14 pieces
- 2 onions grated
- 2 tsp. ginger paste
- 2 tsp. garlic paste
- 1 tomato cubed
- 1 cup yogurt
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp. red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
- 2 tsp. coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala ( 2 cloves 2 cardamom 1 inch cinnamon ground together)
- 2 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 1 inch cinnamon whole
- 1 green chili slit
- 2 tbsp. dry coconut paste
- 10 cashews soaked in hot water and ground to a paste
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Clarified butter(Ghee)
- Take a round clay pot and marinate chicken with salt, red chili powder,turmeric powder,yogurt and garam masala in it. Keep it aside.
- Now take a deep bottomed pan and heat the ghee.
- Add whole cloves,cardamom and cinnamon.
- Saute for a few seconds on medium heat and add the grated onion. Fry till onions turn translucent.
- Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for 20-30 seconds.
- Add the green chili and chopped tomato and fry till soft.
- Take off heat and add this onion mixture to the marinated chicken which is in the clay pot.
- Place the clay pot on low heat and saute the chicken and onion mixture together.
- Add the fresh herbs.
- After 5 minutes increase the heat to medium,cover and cook till oil separates.
- Remove the lid and stir . Add coconut and cashew pastes.Saute well.
- Put a glass of water and cover lid.
- Leave on low heat for about an hour.
- Turn off heat and add the lemon juice.
- Serve with breads,roti or rice.
The chicken turns out delicious, moist and tender. The slow cooking process releases the distinct flavors from each of the ingredients and combine with the earthen flavor from the pot taking the dish to another level. If you have the time and patience do try this technique of cooking and I can assure you that you will thank me for reminding you or introducing you to this form of cooking. I was apprehensive at the beginning but now I have got the hang of it and clay pot cooking has become a regular feature in my kitchen.
If you want some extra tips or have any doubts with seasoning the pots , using or cleaning the pots you can leave a comment below or dash me an email. Have fun and enjoy cooking…