Sharing about the fond culinary experience from childhood in my last blog got me thinking about that time and, of course, the butter chicken. Since we were also running out of groceries, I decided that it was time for me to step out against all odds. But the daily news flash constantly emphasised on the prosecution of anyone stepping out without a valid reason. Even social media was flooding with forwarded videos of people being beaten up for breaking the rules by the state police.
But well, you have to go when you have to go, groceries had to be bought and it was high time to satisfy my rekindled taste buds from the memories of my dad’s cooking. I plotted a 3 step course of action.
Step 1- Mission Grocery:
It was Code Red – planning and preparations were in full swing and everyone at home had suggestions to offer. So my wife Amrita gave me the shiny N-95 mask, my camouflage Nike cap, and took out shoes which could later be left out of the house. Instead of two pistols on my waist, I had sanitizer spray bottles to sanitise anything that came my way. With two shopping bags, I stepped outside the house. Everyone was standing at the door wishing me luck. I waved my hands as I left and pressed the spray bottle to sanitize the lift switch on my floor before pressing it. Driving out of the apartment complex I suddenly realised an eerie silence and the pandemic vibe of the empty roads. In my paranoia, I kept my face mask on even in my car. Just before the market, I was stopped by the police for questioning. I gave a well-rehearsed answer in a flat tone, saying that I’ve just come for groceries, and they let me pass. The entrance to my favourite grocery store looked very different today. Railings for making ques on either side, markings to keep an appropriate distance from the person in front, the guards wearing masks and carrying sanitizer bottles. Only 10 people were allowed to go in at one time. I got everything including the chicken and headed home. On the way, I was stopped twice by the police and looking at my grocery bags they let me pass.
Step 2: Honey I am home! “Sanitize Me”
After being sanitized from top to bottom I entered home and was asked to sit in the balcony with the grocery bag to kill any germs that would have survived the onslaught. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I called my sister to relive the memories of that eventful afternoon when my mom and dad cooked butter chicken. We had a good laugh and felt sorry for our guest who couldn’t eat as well as he had intended. Finally, I took pointers for the recipe to be followed.
Step 3- The Final Act
When it comes to the recipe, you can never be too sure. So I went on Youtube to check out the recipe of celebrity chef Kunal Kapoor, and found out that the most searched recipe in India is for butter chicken, so once you have found the recipe on Youtube, the most important step is to place your phone at eye level securely. Now press play and let the magic begin.
To get the best flavour we marinated the chicken overnight. Next day got up early to meditate and sent a message to the universe that this is going to be the best butter chicken ever. It was time now, got the chicken out of the fridge and started preparing the gravy. Even though I was super excited, everyone else at home remained rather sceptical. They had their reasons, I hardly step into the kitchen and the only thing I am known to cook properly is an omelette.
What happened next was nothing short of an action movie as there were fire, weapons and blood involved. The lid of the mixer grinder flew off and hot tomato puree splashed on all walls. We used cooking pans of all sizes, there were spices on the floor and stains of all kinds on my clothes. It was absolute mayhem and we took more time to clean the kitchen than to make the chicken.
Voila! I had managed to do it. Here it was on the table in front of everyone and my wife Amrita could not believe her eyes. I had come a long way from making just an omelette. But the true test was yet to come, it had taken so long to cook that I could not send it for lunch to my In-laws, who stay nearby. Later that evening the final verdict was out, it was pretty good for the first attempt.
However, the process brought back so many fond memories of my parents and the house filled with their laughter, love and everything that made those times so special. The experience of cooking almost made me feel like I was cooking in my childhood home, with my parents looking over my shoulders.
- Choose the best quality chicken – pinkish hue in colour; organic if possible – as fresh as possible. P.S. If you can befriend the butcher he’ll take care of everything.-
- High grade whole spices-
- Make sure the lid of the mixer grinder is tightly closed so that the tomatoes don’t fly off. Always wear an Apron.
- It’s called Butter chicken for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use a whole lot of it.
- The same gravy can be used for Paneer Makhni (cottage cheese)
- Remember, the more the merrier, so be sure to get everyone on the table.
Link to the recipe:
“Happiness is true only when shared.”
To know what took place eventful afternoon when my parents cooked read:
Memories of the Butter Chicken https://lostbandar.com/2020/04/28/memories-of-the-butter-chicken/