Monday, October 12, 2009

Cashew Craze

Cashew Chicken Delight

Growing up in the small town of Mangalore in the state of Karnataka, South India was indeed a culinary adventure. Mangalore was once the stronghold of the Portuguese and German missionaries and a wonderful blend of all kinds of cuisine and culture which we children took great advantage of. Every household boasted a few chickens and numerous fruit trees. Coconuts and cashewnuts were readily available and used generously in all recipes from breakfast dishes to sweets to meat or just as a simple snack. The variety of food and seasoned cooks in the form of my mother, grandmother, aunts et al kept our taste buds active throughout the day. My mother was always game for new recipes and this again is one of hers handed down in the family for years from her mother’s mother. I have adjusted it to suit modern times as back then everything had to be done from scratch. Nowadays we have the advantage of dressed chicken, readily available coconut milk or grated coconut and packaged spices or nuts. I have also substituted the ghee with oil, being calorie conscious.

The Recipe

Cashew Chicken Delight

1 kg chicken, jointed; ½ tsp. turmeric powder (haldi);
oil for deep frying
Grind the following to a smooth paste: 1 tsp. chilli powder to taste; 5 cloves garlic; 3/4 inch ginger; 3/4 cup cashewnuts; 2 large onions; 1 tsp. corriander; 1/2 tsp. cumin (jeera powder);

Salt to taste.

Seasoning:1 stick cinnamon; 3 cloves; 2 onions, sliced; 2 spring onions, cut fine; 4 large tomatoes, chopped; ¼ tsp. garam masala (available at Indian grocery stores);1 handful corriander leaves, chopped; salt to taste; 3 -4 tbsp. oil for cooking.

Garnish: Few broken cashewnuts, some coriander leaves.

Wash and drain chicken. Dry completely. Rub with turmeric and salt to taste and deep fry till golden brown. Cover and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, add the spices and onions and spring onions. Stir fry till onions turn golden brown. Add the blended ingredients and stir fry on a medium low fire till the oil oozes out. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer for five minutes. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until gravy is thick. Add chicken and simmer for 2 minutes, covered. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle the garam masala on top. Garnish with the corriander leaves and broken cashewnuts. Serve hot with plain rice or naan.(Indian bread).

NB. In its original form, a small lime sized ball of good quality tamarind was used instead of tomatoes which became available only after Indian Independence in 1947. People made do with what was locally available.

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