It’s time to
We have all had
re-unions with friends, right? How about
a re-union with your dad? Had that? If yes you know what I am talking about. Papa has always been that one person that I share
all the stories of my life. A loyal Railway government employee, he is also a
singer, an anchor and a theater artist. Oops! I forgot to mention, he is also an
amazing cook. Within our vast family, his signature chicken curry has quite a reputation.
Papa is someone who is full of life; someone who lives every moment. And each
moment of his life holds some great stories and I keep them all treasured for
my grandchildren to savor.
While at home, I have
always had the luxury of living the life of a Queen. I would never step into
the kitchen except to eat. But, it was different this time around. As dad and I
cooked, I not only enjoyed it but also found that special “bond” that develops
when you cook together. In that one hour of an interactive “Cook with dad”
session, I was not just given tips on recipes but also on life. All this happened a month back, in September,
when Papa gave me a surprise visit and I requested his signature Chicken Curry.
Papa, as usual was super excited to get his hands on the stove and so was I, to
learn from him and also show some of my cooking skills.
We started off
chopping up the dark pink onions. As always, they made me cry. Papa, busy
peeling ginger and garlic to make a paste, didn’t notice his daughter weep.
Unlike me who uses the instant paste, he always prefers making his own ginger-
garlic paste. He tried making me understand the importance of eating fresh.
“Ginger and garlic is one of those ingredients which not just provide flavor to
your dish but also act as good digestive agents”, he said as he put the wok
onto the stove. Mustard oil was poured
into the wok and then we waited for it to get heated. Once it was, we
introduced onions and waited till they became golden brown. Papa followed it up
with the ginger and garlic paste and stirred continuously for the next few
Then I fetched
the marinated chicken from the fridge which was generously packed with
turmeric, curd and green chilli paste for an hour. Papa gently placed the
marinated chicken on the heated wok and then proceeded towards mixing them properly.
Also added to the mixture was Cumin powder, Meat Masala and salt to taste. Meanwhile, he gave me instructions to lower
the flame which he said is a great way to make the dish tastier.
Papa is someone
who likes to eat fresh and healthy. Nowadays, we have packaged food that comes
with labels telling you what the constituents, the calories and preservatives
are. However, during his days, they had no such thing, yet they always had a
healthy diet. Papa has the habit of
chewing curry leaves early in the morning, which he says has miraculous effects
on the body. We even have curry plants in our lawn and mom used to prepare
different recipes out of it. Her curry pakodas were a favorite with both me and
my brother and also were her curry leaves –tea with honey. It is good for your
skin, hair and even solves digestion problems.
As our dish was
being cooked, Papa also dished out old stories. Stories about how my grandmother once caught
him bunking school to catch a super hit Anil Kapoor movie. He told me how he managed
to save his pocket money to just have a glimpse of Anil Kapoor. According to
him, I have strength, energy and power which I should drive towards a positive
act. I should go after my passion to make life meaningful. He also added that
he has hardly ever wasted time and always lived for a purpose and may be that
is why today, he can take a sigh of satisfaction.
My kitchen by
then was filled with the aroma of authentic spices and I was salivating already.
I was curious to know if the chicken was cooked properly or not. Papa fished
out a piece and put it on a plate. The chicken was tender and soft. He
instructed me to bring the chopped coriander leaves. Coriander leaves are
something that papa brings home as it helps my aunt who has rheumatoid
arthritis, Coriander leaves have always helped her with it and also with skin
inflammations. So as a habit, I use a lot of coriander for garnishing and also
to bring in a flavor in almost all of my curries and even Lentils or “Daal”. As
papa put off the burning stove and sprinkled coriander leaves on it, the dish
looked delicious and I was all set to attack. And God, Delicious it was!
My Dad’s Chicken
Curry: Simple, easy and tastes great
Onions = 3, finely chopped
Ginger = half ginger root
Garlic = 2 full Garlic pods.
Red Chilli powder = ½ tbsp
Turmeric Powder = ½ tbsp
Coriander Powder = ½ tbsp
Roasted Cumin Powder = ¼ tbsp
Garam Masala Powder = ¼ tbsp
Fresh Curry Leaves = 1 Spring
Heat Oil in a heavy bottomed vessel (Wok), add
the chopped onions.
Saute’ for 4 minutes.
Adding Curry leaves is an option.
Add ginger garlic paste and saute’ for another 2
Transfer the washed, marinated chicken and cook
on high heat for 4 minutes.
Now cook the chicken in low flame for another 5
Add water (2 cups) and add salt to taste and put
Add Garam Masala, mix it properly till you get
the desired consistency; I like semi gravy.
- · Turn off the heat and garnish it with coriander
Tip: Don’t use curry leaves, if you are going to garnish it
with coriander leaves.
Cooking with Papa
brought back the strong bond that I share with my family. The table was set and
the two plates were ready to get decorated.
Someone truly said, "Food is
symbolic of love when words are inadequate.”