With drought in my mouth, storm brewing in my stomach, whenever I knocked on Grandma’s door, uninvited, she would greet me with a spatula in hand wearing a full blown smile. Smile like a brightly blazed flaming flower. A Sunflower.
Crimson colored oil drops dripping down her spatula. Drops like the Daffodils gone wild in the hills in a sizzling summer noon.
I loved sniffing the scent of passion, promises of Ruby red chicken curry. A truly treasured, real, rural, authentic, esthetic lunch dish. The treasure still holds my soul captive.
Grandma knew how to make a dish jazziest, how to make a soul happiest and how to be friendliest. She found soul and solace in sharing home cooked lunch every single day with whoever walked past her yard.
2 pounds skinless cut-up chicken
½ cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon ginger paste
1 Teaspoon garlic paste
Pinch of turmeric
1/2 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder. (It gives color. Not heat)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 stick Cinnamon, 3 cardamoms, 3 cloves
½ cup water
1/2 cup Ghee or olive oil
Salt to taste
4-5 whole green chili peppers. ( For a little heat and aroma)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Marinate cleaned, washed chicken with yogurt for about 30 minutes. This will eliminate raw odor and add succulence to the meat.
In a wide heavy-bottomed pot, heat ghee/oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions for 5 minutes.
When onions looking soft and light brown, add cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves. ( You may discard those before serving)
In a few seconds add water to prevent spices from burning. Now add garlic, ginger, turmeric and chili powder. Keep stirring for 5-8 minutes. Or until gravy separates from oil. Add meat. Coat the pieces well with gravy.
Add salt and green chili peppers. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until chicken is tender and gravy thickens.
Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice to serve.
Old age crushed Grandma’s memory. Everybody is nameless to her. To her every face is like a frame-less portrait hung in an empty, hollow hallway. The Empress of the lotus covered linen lake house now is a weathered face. Her emerald eyes lost sight. Her senses are now unable to catch summer breeze or winter chills. But her open invitation for lunch to every passers-by would swirl and curl around their hearts like flowers and foliage painted in an ancient lighthouse tomb.