If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you probably know by now, how much Mrs. B means to me. She entered the family when MK’s gran was still around (nearly 11 years ago) and now works with me. I sometimes think she is having a rather prolonged menopause because she is quite often in a bad mood. But I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone more dependable than her. She has never ditched me when I needed her the most, and for that invaluable quality, I am ready to put up with her under-the-breath-muttering and taking-off-without-telling.
She does an excellent job with seafood as you know from here, and can adapt to my sudden irrational diets as you know from here. What you don’t know is how loving she can be if she wants to. The other day, I was asking her where she gets her gaavthi chicken from because my source has now become inaccessible. She spent a minute trying to explain the location to me, and then gave up.
Today, she got me this lovely bird. Marinated it in the morning and came back at tea time to cook. It is a simple, rustic preparation called the “sukka,” literally meaning “dry.” Evidently, the dish is named after the relatively dry masala as compared to the usually very liquid curries of the Konkan. The chicken itself is fall-apart tender, yielding itself to the fiery, bold spices that encase it. Another thing that was very new to me was roasting the chicken feet. I usually don’t get the feet when I buy chicken, but she got them along happily and roasted them on the naked flame until they were blistered black. This, she said, added that smokiness to the dish. I was a little turned off, but boy, was she right!
Although the sukka was meant for dinner, I couldn’t stop myself from eating some straight off the pot, even before she could turn the gas off. It made for the perfect accompaniment to rice bhakris. What more can one ask for? I love you, Mrs. B.
- 1 chicken, portioned
- 2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into large pieces
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- ½ inch piece of ginger
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. dried coconut, grated
- 1 tbs. poppy seeds
- 3-4 cloves
- 2 black cardamoms
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 black peppercorns
- 1 inch stick cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. red chili powder
- ½ + ½ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp. + 3 tbsp. oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Salt to taste
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Clean the chicken.
- In a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, make the marinade using the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, red chili powder, and some salt.
- Rub the marinade on the chicken pieces and leave to rest for at least 2 hours.
- In a pan, heat the 1 tbsp. of oil. Add the 2 sliced onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add the coconut and poppy seeds and sauté further until the onions and coconut turn golden brown and a nutty aroma emanates.
- Remove and grind to a fine paste, using as little water as possible.
- If you’ve got the chicken feet packed, clean them and roast them on a naked fire until blistered black.
- In a large wok, heat the 3 tbsp. of oil and add the whole spices—cinnamon, black cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns.
- When fragrant, add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.
- Pop in the marinating chicken and sear.
- Add the ground paste and a little water (about ¾ of a cup). Season.
- Cover and cook on a low flame for about 15 minutes, checking frequently.
- When done, add the chopped cilantro and serve piping hot with rice flatbreads (bhakris) or any other bread of choice.