Sometimes you need to almost burn it get the perfect curry. What they don't teach you in picture perfect cooking shows. Finely Chopped Covid-19 Journal 14

Look at that colour!!!


Did you see the colour of the curry in the picture above? The depth of it? The majesty? One look at it and the Bengali in me said, 'oof parina'  and then 'byapok.'

Now what if I was to tell you that no chilli powder or garam masala powder was harmed in the making of the curry? That the lovely colour at the end was not intentional? That it was the result of a near accident? And a bit of presence of mind, if I might add.

I am not sure if one should call it a Parsi margi nu ras or a Bengal murgir jhol. It was a collaborative attempt in the kitchen between K and me.

"I started it and you burnt," as she put it.

"Nope. I added intensity to it," was my reply.

Here is what happened.

K heated vegetable oil and then sauteed finely chopped onions in it. Then add finely chopped garlic. Then finely chopped tomatoes, before she added turmeric, cumin and coriander powders. 

At this point she requested me to take over as she had to get into a work video call.

My job was to add chicken to it, salt, sugar, a bit of dahi (curd). Stir it and then add water. 

The idea was to let it cook in a kadhai (wok) after that. I reduced the flame and went off to the study to write, while K took her call from the drawing room which has been her designated work area through the lockdown.

I went to the kitchen half and hour later to see that the very ample amount of water that I had added had dried up! This despite my keeping the kadhai covered with a lid! On a low flame. The chicken had got a mild char on it and was at the cusp of getting burnt!

I quickly turned off the gas and stirred the chicken with the onions and masala base to ensure that it did not stick to the pan. One could have left it at this stage and called it a kadhai chicken and it would have made for a good dish. However, I wanted a jhol tonight. A light curry or gravy,

Dinner round 1 for me with three day old rice from the fridge. Both of us took seconds. 

I added some more water to the kadhai. Mixed the contents of the pan with it and let the water come to a boil. I then reduced the flame and kept it for about five minutes before turning off the flame.

I was hypnotised by how majestic the colour of the gravy looked at the end.

K tasted the curry before putting it in the fridge for dinner. Her 'spont response,' as we say in research?

"It's delicious." A sentiment that she repeated at dinner time when we both took second helpings of the curry. The chicken was tender despite being from a massive bird. The seasoning perfect. The flavours intense.


Scrambled egg made in ghee like it used to be in her granny's house

What else happened in our Parsi Bengali kitchen today?

K has started cooking a bit more frequently that earlier in the lockdown. Today she made scrambled eggs for our breakfast which tasted amazing and full flavoured. She had made it in ghee the way her mama used to make it for her grandmother. Her mother would make it for K with butter.

K left it slight overdone and not runny as she usually prefers. Hygiene is important during the Covid-19 days she explained. We are trying to cook everything well.

The kiss of ghee lit up my morning. Along with a steaming cup of Colombian espresso and toasted multigrain bread from the Baker's Dozen.


Khichuri with Jharna ghhe

While tending to the chicken this morning, I made a runny khichuri for my lunch. I like to add vegetables to khichuri to make it more nutritious. I try to skip the traditional potato as we are eating a lot of potatoes during the lockdown. I added carrots today. I put a fair bit of water in. 3 to 4 times the amount of dal and rice and that ensured that the khichuri did not stick to the pressure cooker. You will  find recipes for khichuri and chicken curry on my blog and on my Instagram highlights if you use the search button judiciously.

I have decided to cook enough food to last for more than one occasion while cooking during the lockdown. The khichuri will last me for one more occasion even after taking out a portion for a friend of ours who had a kitchen accident last night and had hurt herself. I made a Bengali Buddha bowl for her with a layer of khichuri in it at the base. With a liberal drizzle of Jharna ghee on it. Topped by a mamlet made in mustard oil (Bengali for omelette).

She often cooks and feeds us, so making this humble little bowl felt good.

Bengal Buddha Bowl. Khichuri with deem bhaaja

A new Loaf each day

What else? Baby Loaf has been a bit of his old lovey dovey self today and not his recent teenager self. Perhaps he read my recent emo post about him!

Fellow cat parents tell me that the behaviours of cats change according to phases. That they can be rather temperamental. Some say that cats can sense that it is not business as usual these days with no activity at home (in terms of people coming in) or on the roads and that the stillness gets to them. Plus there is the fact that he has been an outside cat for the first year of his life at least. I did let him go out a couple of times today when I went to collect stuff at the gate. He hung around by our landing this time before coming back.

He was sleeping on theside my table as I finished this post and spent some time near both of us today too. I gave him a cat treat at night after I went down to put the trash out.

WTF news of the day

Talking of it not being 'business as usual,' I see well educated, upper income folks go for evening walks, at times without masks. 
I hear of maids on paid leave work a temp maids at other houses rather than stay in. 
Then I wonder, what is the point of it all. How will the lockdown work!

Stay home. Stay safe. Wear a mask if you step out!