So it has been a busy three days of celebration of Diwali which meant food , food and more food and a tired tired tired me . Serves people such as myself right for not wanting anybody's help :)
With the oncoming Bhai-phota it meant another day of celebration. As long as I remember we have never celebrated festive occasions in a big way but come that one day of the year where sisters pray for their brothers' well being and our house would be flooded with guests. It would be a day of fun , laughter and lots of enjoyment. For as long as I remember my grandmother has always hired caterers but this time I forbade her to book the caterers. I was going to cook for 12 guests since many were unable to come. This meant looking for the suitable recipes ahead of time. So it is Monday morning and I am rummaging through recipe after recipe. Now I have this bad habit where I do not like frequenting the same recipes. So should I not have taken the easy path and cooked so many chicken dishes I have prepared over the years but no Sir I wanted to take upon a challenge of a new dish.
I sought the help of NDTVcooks.com. The last time I challenged myself to a new dish for an occasion it was the Lamb lazzez handi , a superb dish of lamb which was a beautiful success and so this time I rummaged through their Pakistan team's recipes and then ah well something caught my attention, Murgh -e -Shalimar. First of all I have special respect for dishes from the northwest frontier cuisine, Lahori cuisine, Awadhi cuisines etc etc . Shalimar conjured these images of Lahori splendor and suddenly I found myself remembering this particular Nawab from Vikram Seth's , "A Suitable Boy" one who loved his delicate food, his music and books and was a true blue sophisticated Nawab. Further reading made me realize I can pretty much imagine the Nawab listening to ghazals and slowly enjoying this lovely dish on a silver plate while the devastating decay around him makes it a heart wrenching beautiful image. Anyways back to my old house in Calcutta, reading through the recipe I realized it was not your usual recipe. Here you bring curd, onions, poppy seeds , sesame seeds and cashew nuts. And this is exactly what fascinated me and I immediately decide upon this recipe.
I did alter a few things.
With the result I would suggest this be tried at all kitchens.
Here is my Mur e Shalimar
Chicken: 2 kg
For marination: 2 tablespoonful of salt, 3 tablespoonful of freshly ground black or white pepper , 2.5 tablespoonful of ginger paste 3 tablespoonful of garlic paste
Curd : 500gm
Cashew nuts: 100gm
Poppy seeds - 3 tablespoonful
sesame seeds - 2.5 tablespoonful
Coriander leaves: 1 big bunch
Green chilies - 8 of them
Green cardamom: 1.5 tablespoonful
Cloves: 1.5 tablespoonful
Ghee/clarified butter: 200gm or a little less
Coconut milk - 1 tetra pack (200ml)
Grated coconut: 3 tablespoonful
Whole milk :500ml
Now the recipe called for cream but I wanted to make it as homemade possible and simply reduced 500ml of milk to a thick creamy consistency (when it yields about 1 small bowl of creamy delight) and put in the blender with coconut and a little bit of milk.
Marinate the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and ginger paste and garlic paste for about 12 horus to 15 hours.
Before starting off I suggest keeping everything ready so blend your coriander leaves and green chilies. I did not find mint leaves in the market else use a mix of mint leaves and coriander leaves.
Bring the curd, poppy seeds, cashew nuts , sesame seeds and chopped onions to a quick boil. Cool and blend into a smooth smooth consistency.
Now heat the ghee in a big pan and add crushed green cardamom and crushed cloves. Then add your curd mixture and keep stirring till the oil separates and add the chicken and bring to about and simmer till chicken is cooked tender , add the green paste and bring to a boil again and simmer covered for sometime till you find the chicken tender and this when you add the cream mixture and coconut milk, again bring to boil very slowly and simmer till chicken reaches the consistency of melt in your mouth texture and . The gravy is supposed to be thick so when reducing ti just do not use the cover and cook in the open for sometime. Make sure that nothing gets stuck in the bottom ,so using medium flame is the way to go except for the times that you bring everything to a boil. And we are done. Have it with plain Basmati rice or with hot chapatis. This is heavy enough and probably not suited for any puris. The dish is truly Nawabi indeed.