My vision of Indian food is very much influenced by my father’s Sunday rumblings in the kitchen. Having lived in northern India for a couple of years, he kept a strong relationship to the country and its food, even translating Madhur Jaffrey’s standard Indian Cooking into German (apart from having a publishing house specialized in Indian poetry). So Sunday was Indian food day at home, which meant that my dad would lock himself into the kitchen for a couple of hours in the afternoon – in my memory, he always did red lentil dal and white cabbage with carrots and mustard seeds, although there must have been other dishes as well. I recall what seemed to my eyes at the time massive amounts of sugar when he prepared apricot chutney, which was later stocked in the kitchen cupboard. I didn’t like it very much at the time.
He definitely did pass on to me a liking for Indian food, and many of the spices and the red lentils are part of the standard stock at home – although I use them in all sorts of context. A couple of months back, I grabbed this cook book again and came across a recipe for chicken I had never tried (I had been vegetarian for quite a while). I altered some minor things, according to availability on the market, and the result is just absolutely delicious. Mild red peppers add a fruity touch, almonds make for a creamy sauce, and lemon juice and ginger freshen it up a bit.
For 4 persons
Mild red peppers, 400g
Onions, 3 small ones
Garlic, 3 cloves
Grounded almonds, 40g
Fresh ginger root, 3 cm (alternatively, use dried, grounded ginger, 1TS)
Cardamom seeds, 2TS
Grounded cardamom, 1TS
Cayenne pepper, 1/2 ts
Vegetable oil, 6TS
Black pepper, 1 – 2 ts
Lemon juice, 3 TS
Wash the chicken, remove the skin and set aside.
Chop peppers, onions, garlic and ginger in pieces. Put everything into a mixer / food processor and add almonds, cumin, cardamom, curcuma, saffron, cayenne pepper and salt. Mix the whole thing until you obtain a creamy, orange colored paste.
In a deep pan or a pot, heat the oil. Add the vegetable paste and stir it constantly for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the oil makes tiny bubbles. Add the chicken, black pepper, lemon juice and about 500ml of water. Bring to boil, then cover it and let it cook at medium low heat for about 20min or until the chicken is done. If the sauce is too liquid, remove the chicken, increase the heat and let the sauce thicken until you reach the desired texture. Serve with rice or flat bread.