Sunday, August 16, 2009

In The Bag (August) - Chicken Ghee Roast

There's this food blog called A Slice of Cherry Pie that I follow. Every now and then (or every month, I don't remember), there's this competition that's held called 'In the Bag'. Basically, you've got to cook something using only the ingredients that've been mentioned there, so it's kind of like cooking with what you get from the bag, hence 'In the Bag', you savvy?

This month's In the Bag had just the right ingredients for me to try out the famous Mangalorean chicken dish, chicken ghee roast. The ingredients from the bag for August were:

Red Chillies

Perfect! :)

You can read about the rules at the above mentioned link. Since we are allowed to use other ingredients that we see fit for the dish, I used a few more. So here's my ingredients list:

1. Chicken - about 450 gms, with bone, but you can use boneless ones as well.
2. 3 Red chillies (that's all I had at home on Saturday evening)
3. 4 flakes of garlic
4. 1/2 tbsp of red chilli powder (to make up for the lack of red chillies)
5. 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
6. 1-1.5 tsp garam masala.
7. Juice from 1 small lemon (use half lemon if you don't want it tangy)
8. 1/2 - 1 tsp vinegar
Note: At times, the lemon juice/vinegar is replaced by tamarind paste
9. 2 tbsp ghee, or clarified butter
10. Salt & pepper to season

If garam masala isn't available, or if you love preparing the stuff on your own, you can substitute the garam masala by adding a few coriander seeds, cumin seeds, a small piece of cinnamon, a couple of cloves, and even a pod of cardamom if you want, and toast them on a pan on medium-high heat until the colour changes to several shades darker grind these together to get a fine powder. This should take about 10 minutes, but do not increase the heat to quicken the process (one thing I've learnt the hard way is that patience in the kitchen is indeed a virtue). Allow this to cool, and then grind to as fine a powder as you can.

Now for the ghee roast.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. A lot of people (traditionalists, like my mom) would add the salt to the marinade itself, but I don't, no specific reason, that's just the way I operate :)

Chop the garlic flakes fine and make a paste of the red chillies. Mix this paste with the garlic and add the turmeric powder and garam masala. Add the red chilli powder as well (I was short of red chillies and used some red chilli powder). Squeeze the juice out of the lemon into this paste and add the vinegar as well and mix the entire marinade with the chicken, and let the chicken marinate for about 3-4 hours (or longer if you prefer, but 4 hours should do the trick) in the fridge. If the marinade is dry and ins't pasty enough, add a few drops of water.

Once you take the chicken out, allow it to thaw a little. Heat a pan/skillet and add the ghee (clarified butter) and once the ghee is hot, add the chicken into the pan and cook until done. You'll notice from the snap below some gravy - this dish is actually supposed to be dry, but when the chicken marinates, some amount of water is given out, and you could either drain it, or use it as I did. The traditional way this dish is made is completely dry, with only the marinade on the chicken and with the ghee oozing and dripping from the chicken.


Anonymous said...

That looks and sounds great. Now what does the ghee do as opposed to just using the full fat butter? Just curious.

Karthik Shetty said...

Good question, no idea. But I'm guessing that since the dish traces its origins to a rural part of Udupi (coastal India), where ghee is traditionally used for cooking/pan frying, that's the reason this particular dish uses ghee. Also, traditionally, Indian cooking makes use of vegetable oil or ghee for frying stuff, and not butter. It would be worthwhile to ask an expert on the matter.


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