Who is Sanju? And why does his name appear on this blog??
Sanjay Kadam or Sanju as he is better known was part of the family that worked with Aniruddha’s parents when his mother was with the Indian Railways. He is a wonderful cook and his speciality is this amazing spice paste that is used to make a chicken curry.
The spice paste is primarily made of fried onions, fresh and dry coconut and spices like cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds. You can imagine that this would be a particularly fragrant spice paste! Although Sanju has been kind enough to take me through the recipe, he still insists on cooking and giving us a fresh batch of the paste everytime we’re in Mumbai or when Aniruddha’s parents visit us in Singapore.
Serving just a chicken curry can be predictable, and so to mimic the experience of eating this curry with chappatis, we decided to create a chicken pot pie! This is quite an indulgent dish and best if it’s the only thing you eat at one meal 😀
For a recent get together with friends I made my version of the kathi rolls from Kolkata. I have spoken earlier about Kolkata kathi rolls vs. the Mumbai frankie and still maintain that both are quite different and tasty in their own right.
The filling in my rolls is made of chicken, methi (fenugreek leaves) and spinach and spiced with kashmiri chillies, the 3C’s – clove, cardamom and cinnamon, and coriander seeds. For the wrap, I made it using a combination of plain flour, whole wheat flour and an egg. And while cooking, I smeared beaten egg on the roll on one side and then flipped it over and cooked it, giving softness and added flavour to the rolls. Finally, the beautiful looking rolls were done by Aniruddha!
My best memory of kathi rolls in Kolkata is at a shop that Ani’s friend Indro had taken us to in Gariahat and what I remember most of those rolls is the heat from the filling inside – mouth-wateringly good! I kept mine more mild given the audience but my original recipe has at least 3 more chillies than I had used. Yowzer!
Prawn Malai Curry is a classic Bengali seafood curry. Apparently the word ‘malai’ comes from ‘Malay’ as it is believed the use of coconut cream is influenced by Malay cuisine. I’m sure this will be hotly contested by many Bengalis and Malays alike. But regardless, it is a delicacy and I’m happy to have learned how to make it.
The gravy is made of onion paste, garlic, ginger, dry roasted cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, bay leaves and coconut cream. This is cooked over low heat till it becomes thick and creamy and then the prawns, marinated and cooked separately, are added to the gravy. A wonderful, indulgent prawn curry best enjoyed with rice.
There is no dearth of chicken curries in Indian cuisine and while they may all look and taste the same for those not familiar with the cuisine, I can guarantee that this is not the case. I could go into the variations in spice mixtures, the marination, cooking techniques, etc. But let me focus on what I consider to be one of the better, if not best, of that vast pool of chicken curries. Kombdi Cha Rassa or Chicken curry is a Marathi preparation that is characterized by it’s fragrant smell and taste. It brings together a wonderful combination of dried red chillies, fresh coconut, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander seeds, green chillies and curry leaves in a thick tomato, onion and yoghurt gravy. You can have this with rice or chapatis but make sure to have a glass of mattha on hand to cool you down, as the gravy is also a bit spicy.
The best version I have tasted was at a restaurant in Mumbai called Sol Kadi, which shut down many years ago. They would serve the curry with vade (deep fried wheat and semolina bread) and koshimbir (vegetable and yoghurt salad). The version that I make at home is a result of trying out a couple of recipes and spice combinations to create what is now my favourite chicken curry. Priya