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Friday, 17 February 2012

Posto Murgi - Chicken in Poppy Seed Gravy

We are enjoying half term holidays now. By enjoying I mean taking a break from walking in the horrible cold outside to school every morning, watching day time tv, painting and doing stuff together. I love these holidays. I love every single second of my time I get to spend with my baby. Though she hates being called a baby now. And to be very honest she is indeed  growing up super fast. From not being able to talk properly last year this time she has gone into writing words and spelling words using phonics. Last Friday, the last day before the holidays, upon asked how she's going to spend her holidays she told her teacher that she'll be going to her ''Mummy House'' (she calls my Mom-in-Law Mummy as we all call her that...and Mummy's home is Mummy-House) in an aeroplane to spend time with Little A(her cousin brother). 

The teacher was very happy to know later on from me that she isn't saying what we told her and instead using her imagination to create a story about her holidays. She even told them that there are lots and lots of people in the house(she meant the orderlies but her teacher was a bit shocked I think) and everybody plays with her. When I asked her about it at home she sounded a bit sad and that's when I realised that she was missing her family. Somehow she has started to understand and relate holidays with family time as we used to do when we were small. Holidays for me and my brother meant going to 'Mamar Bari' (Maternal uncle's house) and spend two marvelous weeks with the cousins. Little T loves her cousins, especially my Sis-In-Law's younger one Little A who is also about the same age as she is. Even though they don't get to see one another as often as they would desire, they love each other to bits and cannot do without talking to each other over the phone almost every week. Little T won't buy anything until we buy the same one for her brother and he does the same.

I love Mummy's cooking. In fact I owe her mostly for my cooking skills. Since I didn't know my lentils from my spices when I got married she took it upon her to teach me, guide me and help me, especially also because she knew how painfully fussy her son was when it comes to food! She was my Google for searching for recipes 7years ago and still is. She is an amazing cook who knows how to pick the simplest of ingredients and turn them into a tasty yet healthy meal! Thank you Mummy for everything :). This recipe for Posto Chicken is her speciality. I've made it a thousand times and though everybody else raves about it my husband simply just says ''It's still not like Mummy's'' and though I'm not very happy about it I will admit it isn't!

**Note : The traditional and ideal way to grind poppy seeds is with a Shil Noda(Indian Stone Grinder) as only that can give you a fine sweet paste. Trying to grind or blend poppy seeds in a mixer grinder makes it bitter as it takes longer to grind. I use my shil noda to grind mustard and poppy seeds but you can grind poppy seeds using a blender or a coffee bean grinder. If you are using a blender then just soak larger amount (about 6 tbsp) in warm water for a few hours and then wet grind it with the spice/chutney attachment of your mixer. 

If you want to use the dry grinder/coffee grinder then dry roast about 3 tbsp and dry grind it. This will give a slightly different taste but shouldn't matter. 

Posto Murgi - Chicken in a Poppy Seed Gravy

Ingredients :

Dry Spices :

Green Cardamom - 5
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 1/2 " stick

Cumin Seeds - 2 tsp

Chicken - 1.5-2 kg, preferably small-medium thighs and legs, skinned
Yogurt - 2 cups
Onions - 2 large, grated or minced
Ginger Paste/Mince - 2 tbsp
Garlic Paste/Mince - 2 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Bay leaves - 2 large
Poppy Seeds - 2 tbsp soaked and ground into a fine paste (See Note...use 2-3 tbsp of the end product in both cases)
Sunflower Oil to cook - 6 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp (optional)

Method : 

Dry roast and grind the first 3 ingredients listed under the dry spices. This will give you 'Bengali Garam Masala'. I normally do 10 times of this quantity and store it in a spice container for everyday use.

Dry roast the cumin seeds separately and grind into a fine powder. I normally dry roast a whole 100gm bag of cumins and store for everyday use. 

Wash and clean the chicken pieces. Dry lightly with a kitchen towel. Prick with a fork all over. 

Whisk the yogurt together with the minced onions, ginger, garlic, salt and half of the cumin powder. Marinate the chicken pieces with this mix for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Heat oil in a deep wide wok. Add the bay leaves and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Start adding the chicken pieces after scraping excess marinade. Add the marinade and cook on high heat. 

A lot of water will be released initially but on high heat it will slowly start to evaporate. When all the water has dried up the raw smell of onion, ginger and garlic should be gone and oil will separate. 

Add the chilli powder and rest of the cumin powder and continue to cook on high heat. This is when the chicken will brown on both sides instead of at the beginning in most other recipes. Add splashes of hot water, bring down the heat, cover and cook till the chicken pieces are tender and thoroughly cooked. 

Add the poppy paste and salt if required. Mix well. Sprinkle the garam masala before getting it off the heat and spoon in the ghee if using. Serve hot with steamed white rice, Mishti Pulao or parathas.

Cook's tip : Add a sliced boiled egg as garnish. The egg yolk mixed with the poppy seed gravy gives an irresistible taste and texture.

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