Wednesday, 21 October 2015

CHICKEN CHAAP PULAO/PILAF ~ DURGA PUJO SPECIAL


The celebratory mode continues in my home. Though we do not wake up to the beat of the Dhak/Drum or the sound of the conch shell/Shankh or the chanting of mantras, but I guess the fervour of DURGA Puja has our hearts filled and therefore every member of my family wakes up with a smile on their faces. Then, amidst the enthusiastic discussion of which new attire we will clad today and what all will accessorize it, the coffee mugs and morning cookies get forgotten. The brisk activity continues till we all decked in our finenary head out to the Puja Mandap. No matter how far one is from India and West Bengal, no matter if one is surrounded by a carnival atmosphere or not, the DURGA Puja days do bring in a whole lot of excitement.


On deciding what special dish I would cook today to make little D familiar with my childhood Puja celebrations, I remember one dish, which my Dida/ maternal grandmother had once guided the cooks to create for the Puja feast. This dish had become so popular that from then on, for every Puja feast there would be a universal demand to cook that dish. Ma tells me that this dish was created to fit in another dish amidst the huge repertoire of dishes served during the Puja meals. Dida had wanted to make the Kolkata famous Chaap and serve it with Parathas, but the cooks had found making so many parathas that too so quickly amidst the numerous other dishes a little difficult and had communicated the same to her. So she came up with this one pot dish Chaap Pulao/Pilaf. She had used goat meat/mutton chaap but as my family is a little restricted on the consumption of red meat, I made Dida's famous Chaap Pulao with Chicken Chaap. Thankfully Ma knew the ingredients of the dish by heart and I am so glad that I could document this superlative dish  of my beloved Dida for posterity and share it with you my dear readers.



The Chicken Chaap Pulao is very easy to make and hardly involves any cooking. But as it is cooked on a low flame, very slowly, therefore it takes time to make and you cannot cook this dish if you are short of time. Dishes like Chicken /Mutton Chaap were interwoven into the Bengali Cuisine from the time Wajid Ali Shah the Nawab of Awadh was put into exile in BENGAL. Also Bengal has been ruled by Muslim governors for a long time and the influence and adaptation of Moglai / Mughali cuisine can be found in many Bengali Dishes. The best part of this dish is the aroma which itself is so festive, apart from the melt in the mouth, lapped up in a creamy gravy the chicken pieces. To top it, you have the fragrant rice, each grain coated with the juices from the chicken and the thick silky gravy. The slow cooking makes the chicken totally drunk with its own juices and infused with the spices so nicely, that with each bite you feel a surge of flavour.

The special chaap masala, I believe is the secret to this dish acquiring such robust flavours. Cooking it on a slow flame for a longer time ensures the wonderful marriage of the ingredients and heightens its taste. Dida had tweaked the quintessential Chaap recipe by adding tomato puree which she said would give the chicken its required blush and a tiny bite of extra tang. Chicken chaap has a thick gravy which is flowy and does not cling to the chicken pieces. But since she cooked the rice in the chaap gravy, she didn't add any extra water, but only enough water to cook the rice. This was her technique to get each grain of rice coated with the voluptuous gravy. Because she added tomatoes, I always found the colour of her chicken chaap more rosy. She adapted the traditional recipe and changed it to suit the palate of her family, which left a mark of her cooking on that dish. I have thus learnt from her, keep the basic framework of any recipe you are adapting the same but always give it your touch. When eating a dish cooked by you, your family and friends should be able to recognize your signature style in that dish. That"s what I have always tried to do. So let's get to this very special Recipe without any further ado.

NOTE : Just a note before we begin, dear readers please don't get intimidated by the long list of ingredients. They all are available in your kitchen and takes less then 5 minutes to assemble. Also the cooking and marination time is more. So you can prepare a day earlier and marinate overnight to save time. Also since the cooking doesn't require much of your presence you can schedule other work while this is cooking.

CHICKEN CHAAP PULAO/PILAF RECIPE :

AUTHOR : PIYALI MUTHA
SERVES : 2
CUISINE : INDIAN
TYPE : MAIN COURSE
TIME : 2~3 HOURS FOR MARINATION AND PREPARATION + 1 ~ 1 1/2 HOURS COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 2 Pieces of Chicken Chaap ( Chicken leg quarters weighing approximately 250 gms each)
2) 2 Cups (400 gms approximately) Aged long grain Basamati rice
3) 3 Medium sized onions thinly sliced
4) 10~12 whole raw cashewnuts
5) 10~12 of raisins
6) 1 tsp Kebab Chini/Java Pepper
7) 2 tsp screwpine water/kewra jal or rose water whichever is available.
8) 2 tbsp dried rose petals (optional)
9) 2 Tbsp Clarified butter ( ghee)
10) 2 Tbsp oil

FOR THE CHAAP MASALA : ( Also available readymade at Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi stores or supermarkets)

1) 1 Tsp Shah Jeera/Shahi Jeera
2) 1 Tsp Shah Morich/White Pepper Corns
3) 1 Tsp of Nutmeg/jaiphal Powder
4) 3~4 strands of Mace/Javitri
5) 1 Tsp Java Pepper/Kabab Chini
6) 2 Tsp Garam Masala Powder

FOR THE MARINATION AND THE GRAVY BASE :

1) 1 whole lemon
2) 2 Tbsp Yogurt/Dahi
3) 2 Tbsp of Poppy seeds soaked, covered in hot water water 
4) 10 ~12 Whole Raw cashewnuts soaked in hot water
5) 2 Medium sized tomatoes
6) 3 ~ 4 Red Kashmiri Chilli 
7) 3 Tbsp Chaap Masala 
8) 1 Tbsp garlic paste
9) 1/2 Tbsp ginger paste
10) 4 Cloves
11) 1 inch Cinnamon
12) 4 Green cardamom pods
13) 2 Black Cardamom pods
14) 1 Tsp Whole Black Pepper corns
15) 1 Bay leaf
15) Salt to taste

PROCEDURE TO MAKE CHICKEN CHAAP PULAO:

1) Wash the chicken leg quarters nicely, Make cuts on them all over with a knife (so that the marinate can go inside too) and marinate them with one whole lemon juice and 1tsp salt for 15 minutes.

2) While your chicken leg quarters are marinating in the lemon juice, Soak the poppy seeds and cashewnuts in hot water for 10 ~15 minutes.

3) Add yogurt/dahi to the chicken and give it a nice massage with the yogurt.

4) Strain the water from the Poppy seeds and Cashew-nuts and in a grinder or food processor grind them to a smooth paste. You may use one or two Tbsp Water to help you grind. Also Grind the tomato and chillies into a smooth puree. Dry roast all the spices under Chaap masala till fragrant and grind them into a smooth powder. (Alternately use store bought chaap masala).

Next add to the chicken leg quarters cashewnut poppy seeds paste, tomato red chillies paste, the chaap masala, put in the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom black and green, bay leaves, black pepper corns and mix everything well and rub the chicken pieces nicely with the masala.


5) Finally add ginger and garlic paste and after rubbing all the masala to the chicken leg quarters, refrigerate for at least two hours or more.

6) In a pan add oil and clarified butter and fry the cashewnuts and raisins. Take them out in a bowl and keep them ready to use.

7) Add finely sliced onions to the same oil and fry them till golden brown. Take out a little fried onions from there to keep for garnishing at the end.


8) Add the chicken leg quarters along with masala. Mix well.

9) Cover and leave to cook on very low heat at least for 45 ~ 60 minutes. In between keep bringing the oil which collects on the sides of your pan to the center with your spatula, so that the masala cooks evenly. If you want then you can add a little chaap masala powder here. Once the masala is cooked completely and your chicken almost done you are ready to move on to the next step.

Garnish with 1/2 the dried rose petals and your chicken chaap is ready.


10) In the same pan a little ghee/clarified butter on one side and put in the Java peppers/kabab chini. (I had taken a small pan for the chicken chaap and so had to transfer into a bigger pan for the rice to cook well along with the chicken and masala).

11) As I used another pan, so I added the chicken chaap after the kabab chini became fragrant. If you are using the same pan which is always better, wait for the kabab chini to become aromatic and then move on to the next step.

12) Wash the rice thoroughly  in a colander  and drain all the water out. Add the rice into the pan. Add salt tom taste.

Mix well so that each grain of rice is coated with the masala.

As per the instruction on your rice packet add water. I added 1 cup rice : 2 Cups water. Stir nicely and increase the flame and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to minimum and let the rice cook covered in the pan till completely done . (Do not cook on high flame, as the bottom layer of rice will cook and stick to the bottom of the pan and start to burn whereas the top layer of rice will remain uncooked.

13) Once the rice is completely cooked add the raisins, cashewnuts, kewra or rose water, rose petals and check for seasoning and add salt if required. Mix the contents of your pan one last time and serve.


Serve piping hot with a nice cool raita of your choice.

For the RAITA/YOGURT DIP you see in the pictures I used 5 Tbsp Yogurt, 1 Tbsp chopped cucumber, 1 Tbsp chopped tomatoes, 1 Tbsp chopped onions, 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, 2 small fresh red chillies chopped finely, 1 Tsp sugar, Salt to taste and 5 Tbsp water. In a mixing bowl I mixed everything using a spoon nicely and refrigerated for 1/2 an hour before serving.

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CHICKEN CHAAP PULAO/PILAF RECIPE :

AUTHOR : PIYALI MUTHA
SERVES : 2
CUISINE : INDIAN
TYPE : MAIN COURSE
TIME : 2~3 HOURS FOR MARINATION AND PREPARATION + 1 ~ 1 1/2 HOURS COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 2 Pieces of Chicken Chaap ( Chicken leg quarters weighing approximately 250 gms each)
2) 2 Cups (400 gms approximately) Aged long grain Basamati rice
3) 3 Medium sized onions thinly sliced
4) 10~12 whole raw cashewnuts
5) 10~12 of raisins
6) 1 tsp Kebab Chini/Java Pepper
7) 2 tsp screwpine water/kewra jal or rose water whichever is available.
8) 2 tbsp dried rose petals (optional)
9) 2 Tbsp Clarified butter ( ghee)
10) 2 Tbsp oil

FOR THE CHAAP MASALA : ( Also available readymade at Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi stores or supermarkets)

1) 1 Tsp Shah Jeera/Shahi Jeera
2) 1 Tsp Shah Morich/White Pepper Corns
3) 1 Tsp of Nutmeg/jaiphal Powder
4) 3~4 strands of Mace/Javitri
5) 1 Tsp Java Pepper/Kabab Chini
6) 2 Tsp Garam Masala Powder

FOR THE MARINATION AND THE GRAVY BASE :

1) 1 whole lemon
2) 2 Tbsp Yogurt/Dahi
3) 2 Tbsp of Poppy seeds soaked, covered in hot water water 
4) 10 ~12 Whole Raw cashewnuts soaked in hot water
5) 2 Medium sized tomatoes
6) 3 ~ 4 Red Kashmiri Chilli 
7) 3 Tbsp Chaap Masala 
8) 1 Tbsp garlic paste
9) 1/2 Tbsp ginger paste
10) 4 Cloves
11) 1 inch Cinnamon
12) 4 Green cardamom pods
13) 2 Black Cardamom pods
14) 1 Tsp Whole Black Pepper corns
15) 1 Bay leaf
15) Salt to taste

PROCEDURE TO MAKE CHICKEN CHAAP PULAO:

1) Wash the chicken leg quarters nicely, Make cuts on them all over with a knife (so that the marinate can go inside too) and marinate them with one whole lemon juice and 1tsp salt for 15 minutes.

2) While your chicken leg quarters are marinating in the lemon juice, Soak the poppy seeds and cashewnuts in hot water for 10 ~15 minutes.

3) Add yogurt/dahi to the chicken and give it a nice massage with the yogurt.

4) Strain the water from the Poppy seeds and Cashew-nuts and in a grinder or food processor grind them to a smooth paste. You may use one or two Tbsp Water to help you grind. Also Grind the tomato and chillies into a smooth puree. Dry roast all the spices under Chaap masala till fragrant and grind them into a smooth powder. (Alternately use store bought chaap masala).

Next add to the chicken leg quarters cashewnut poppy seeds paste, tomato red chillies paste, the chaap masala, put in the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom black and green, bay leaves, black pepper corns and mix everything well and rub the chicken pieces nicely with the masala.

5) Finally add ginger and garlic paste and after rubbing all the masala to the chicken leg quarters, refrigerate for at least two hours or more.

6) In a pan add oil and clarified butter and fry the cashewnuts and raisins. Take them out in a bowl and keep them ready to use.

7) Add finely sliced onions to the same oil and fry them till golden brown. Take out a little fried onions from there to keep for garnishing at the end.

8) Add the chicken leg quarters along with masala. Mix well.

9) Cover and leave to cook on very low heat at least for 45 ~ 60 minutes. In between keep bringing the oil which collects on the sides of your pan to the center with your spatula, so that the masala cooks evenly. If you want then you can add a little chaap masala powder here. Once the masala is cooked completely and your chicken almost done you are ready to move on to the next step.

Garnish with 1/2 the dried rose petals and your chicken chaap is ready.

10) In the same pan a little ghee/clarified butter on one side and put in the Java peppers/kabab chini. (I had taken a small pan for the chicken chaap and so had to transfer into a bigger pan for the rice to cook well along with the chicken and masala).

11) As I used another pan, so I added the chicken chaap after the kabab chini became fragrant. If you are using the same pan which is always better, wait for the kabab chini to become aromatic and then move on to the next step.

12) Wash the rice thoroughly  in a colander  and drain all the water out. Add the rice into the pan. Add salt tom taste.

Mix well so that each grain of rice is coated with the masala.

As per the instruction on your rice packet add water. I added 1 cup rice : 2 Cups water. Stir nicely and increase the flame and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to minimum and let the rice cook covered in the pan till completely done . (Do not cook on high flame, as the bottom layer of rice will cook and stick to the bottom of the pan and start to burn whereas the top layer of rice will remain uncooked.

13) Once the rice is completely cooked add the raisins, cashewnuts, kewra or rose water, rose petals and check for seasoning and add salt if required. Mix the contents of your pan one last time and serve.

Serve piping hot with a nice cool raita of your choice.

For the RAITA/YOGURT DIP you see in the pictures I used 5 Tbsp Yogurt, 1 Tbsp chopped cucumber, 1 Tbsp chopped tomatoes, 1 Tbsp chopped onions, 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, 2 small fresh red chillies chopped finely, 1 Tsp sugar, Salt to taste and 5 Tbsp water. In a mixing bowl I mixed everything using a spoon nicely and refrigerated for 1/2 an hour before serving.