The thing about food and cooking is that it goes hand in hand with a love for feeding people, and watching them enjoy what you cook. In my case, it’s also one of those gifts that came down to me from my grandparents. My love of food, cooking and of course making sure that whoever drops by, gets fed.
My grandfather on my dad’s side… (I never met him. I’m a Scorpio, and if you’ve read Linda Goodman, you’ll know what she says about Scorpio births… and she was right, because within a month of mine, my grandfather passed away). So yeah, my granddad was the kind of person who always set an extra place at the dining table whenever the family sat down to eat, just in case someone dropped in unannounced. My mum’s mother was like that as well, and she was a phenomenal cook, a magician in the kitchen who could conjure up the most tasty dishes out of thin air. And it didn’t really matter what was in her pantry. You dropped by and you didn’t leave without a meal… and a darn good one at that.
Murg Badami or Almond Chicken is a fairly popular Indian dish, but this is my version, and it’s low-fat. I came up with the recipe when I had a friend over to dinner and wanted to cook something festive, but not too rich or laden with ghee (clarified butter) and cream. So even though this dish may look heavy, it isn’t. There are quite a few steps involved in its preparation though, but you’ll see that it’s well worth every bite.
1 teaspoon each – cumin & coriander powder
1 teaspoon – tandoori masala
1/2 teaspoon – salt
1 teaspoon – ginger garlic paste
4 tablespoons – yoghurt
juice of 1 lime
Coat the chicken with the marinade and allow it to sit for a minimum of 4 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
Add a tablespoon of oil to the chicken (more if required), then skewer and roast in the oven at 200 to 210 degrees C, turning it periodically and brushing it with some of the marinade and oil (you can use a grill pan or a barbecue top if you like) till the chicken is just done and has a light singe/char. Cover the pieces in foil when done and allow them to rest.
2 – 3 dried red/Kashmiri chillies, de-seeded and soaked in warm water.
15 almonds – blanched, peeled and ground with the red chillies and 2 teaspoons water to make a paste. You could use more if you want a thicker gravy, but I wanted it light so I stuck with 15 almonds.
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and sauté 1/2 a red onion that has been sliced fine, till it turns golden brown. Add about 2 cups of chicken stock, the reserve marinade from the chicken, and another tablespoon of whipped curd. Cook the sauce down on low heat for about 15 – 20 minutes or till reduced in half. Add in the chicken kebabs/grilled chicken, 2 slit green chillies (de-seeded if you don’t want it too hot), a 1/2″ piece of ginger julienned, a teaspoonful of dark brown sugar and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes on a low flame.
To finish add the almond-chilli paste and mix well. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
Garnish with a sprinkling of fried onions, a tablespoonful each of fried raisins and toasted almonds and a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh coriander.