India is a pretty big country. And diverse. So much so that you travel 50 miles in any direction and you will start noticing a change in language, culture, attire and of course the cuisine. The prime crop of the particular region would determine what the cuisine would look like. If you come from a region with soil rich for rice then you would mainly be eating rice and if a region grew lentils well then you can expect an array of dishes cooked with lentils coming out of the kitchens. And the language, culture and food played (and still does) such a deep role in people’s lives that back in the days people would even hesitate marrying a person far away from their region in fear of the huge adjustments one will have to make because of the differences.
Such a dilemma arose when my parents decided to get married. Papa from central India and Mummy from a region nestled in the eastern part of India. Although that did not stop them from coming together but my brother and I got lucky because we got exposed to two different sets of traditions, languages to a certain extent, at least the dialect and food.
Mummy having born and brought up in a city on the border of Bihar and Bengal, and having gone to a Bengali school, her cooking was very much influenced by Bengali cuisine. Lets just say that I have had my fair share of Macher Jhol and Panch Foran spices growing up. So when I found out that my friend Kankana is writing a cookbook, I was of course ecstatic. But when I learned that the book is on Bengali cuisine, it became much more personal to me, because much of this food was what I grew up eating. And there are several parts and pieces of this cuisine that I always craved to learn, how to cook. And what a great job Kankana has done to make that food approachable to many!
Another reason why this cookbook is special to me is because this is her first cookbook, her baby. And I feel like an aunt to that baby. I was there at every step of this baby, from the conception to development to its delivery. I have also seen how much heart and soul Kankana has put into it which by the way you will also see in every page of the book, when you hold it. It’s a stunner with Kankana’s foolproof recipes and masterful photography.
When the thought came of sharing something from the cookbook, I was clear in my mind what recipe I was going to share. This was one of the first recipes I tested for Kankana when she was writing the book. Then I also got to enjoy it again when she was shooting the cover and once I’d pick up a bowl of this dish, it was tough for me to put it down. AND I have shared my own experience of a Sunday Chicken Curry cooked by my Papa before. So I chose one of Kankana’s favorite from the book, and mine too- a recipe for Sunday Chicken Curry, her dad used to cook for them growing up. Robibar Er Murgi Jhol or just a Bengali name for Sunday Chicken Curry is a mildly spiced curry and soul warming comfort food in Bengali homes. I hope you love it as much I did it.
Oh, and funnest part for the end. I am giving away a copy of Kankana’s gorgeous cookbook on Bengali Cuisine- Taste of Eastern India, Delicious Authentic Bengali Meals you need to try.
All you gotta do you is tell us, in the comments section below, what is one of your favorite dishes to cook and share with your dad.
Entries open till Nov. 4th, 11:59 pm. One random winner will be announced on Nov. 5th. Open only for US residents.
We have a winner! Congratulations Shama!! Please contact us wit your postal address so that we can send a copy of the cookbook your way.
Sunday Chicken Curry (Bengali Style)
- 1 lb 500g bite-size chicken pieces (mix of bone-in and boneless, also skinless)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp 15ml lemon juice
- 1 tbsp 15g salt, divided
- 1 potato
- 1 red onion
- 2 tbsp 30ml oil, divided
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1- inch 3-cm cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp 10g grated garlic
- 1 tbsp 8g grated ginger
- 1 cup 237 ml water
- 3 green chillies
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Lime wedges
Put the chicken pieces in a big mixing bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Massage with your hands so the spices coat the pieces evenly. Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours. Letting it marinate overnight would make the flavor better.
Peel the potato and cut it into quarters. Set aside. Peel the onion. Slice three-fourths of the onion into thin slices and grate the remaining one-fourth of the onion.
When ready to prepare the chicken curry, place a heavy- bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon (15ml) of oil. When the oil heats up, add the potato. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Stir and fry the potato until mildly golden in color, about 3 minutes. Remove the potato from the pan to a separate bowl and set aside.
To the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) of oil and the sugar. Allow the sugar to caramelize for a few seconds and then add the green cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add garlic, ginger and grated onion. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, then ass the sliced onion. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) of salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Stir and allow the onion to cook and turn golden brown in color, about 5 minutes.
Add the marinated chicken, stir to combine everything evenly and cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the fried potatoes, water and green chillies and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Finally, sprinkle with the garam masala, stir and check for salt at this point. Add any if required. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, squeeze fresh lime juice on top and serve warm.