Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Pakistani Culinary Classic

It’s that time again. The time when I have to cook. Honestly if I had my way, everyone would just eat chocolates and take multivitamins to fulfill the rest of the human dietary requirements. This diet plan however isn't met with as much enthusiasm as I would have liked. People react by looking perplexed, then passionately debating about how we need our basic food requirements of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, along with much needed fiber, vitamins and minerals that chocolates can't substitute. My own family looked confounded when I brought forth this brilliant idea after years of experience as a chocolate connoisseur. So until I find a research team of nutritionists who can research my ingenious idea which I can then patent, sell for millions and give the 'I told you so' look to all the doubters of chocolate only diet out there, I have no choice but to stick to old fashioned cooking for the time being. 

Despite all the groaning, moaning and procrastination towards cooking, I feel I am surprisingly quite a decent cook. I would like to share an old Pakistani recipe which I cooked a few days back. The recipe is Boneless Chicken Karahi. Not only will this hopefully be helpful to someone who wants to try out some yummy Pakistani dishes, it will also motivate me to get off the sofa and go start cooking today. The things you have to do for a healthy meal.

I took some pictures again to make the experience a bit more visual. Boneless Chicken Karahi is an old Pakistani favorite and I am sure almost all Pakistanis who have ventured into the world of culinary ‘delights’ have enjoyed making this recipe. Okay sarcasm aside, this is a pretty yum and easy to cook recipe. To start, you will need an onion, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, lemon, coriander, yogurt, baby green chili and of course boneless chicken.

Cut the chicken into medium sized dices. Take a bowl and mix 2 tablespoons of yogurt, red chili powder along with ginger and garlic paste. Marinate the chicken in it for at least an hour. Remember, if you are in a hurry, cut the chicken in to smaller pieces. This increases the surface area to volume ratio, ensuring the chicken is cooked quicker. I had ample of time so kept the chicken pieces medium sized.

Cut the onions into small pieces. Again the surface area to volume rule will apply here, so the smaller the pieces of onions, the faster will be the rate of cooking. Take some vegetable oil in a wok (known in Urdu as karahi, hence the name boneless Chicken Karahi), heat it, add whole cumin seeds and the chopped onion. Fry the onions, and whilst continuously stirring the contents of the wok, add a clove of chopped garlic, half a teaspoon of chopped ginger, a quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of coriander powder, and salt according to taste. Continue stirring until the onions are a lovely light golden brown color.

Once the onions are done, add about a quarter of a can of tomato paste. This would give a lovely bright red color and tangy taste. Not only will this be a delight to look at, the mouthwatering aroma from all the added spices will like magic take over your kitchen.

Add the boneless chicken in the mixture and stir it around to fry it a bit. Do this for about five to ten minutes. Then take 4 tomatoes and chop them into small pieces. I like my gravy to be thick, so I kept the chopped sizes relatively big. If you like thin gravy, take the fresh chopped tomatoes, and grind them to form a paste. You can then add it to the rest of the contents in the wok. Add also a few drops of lemon juice for some tangy flavor and chopped baby green chili according to taste.

Stir the contents of the wok for a while to ensure the ingredients are mixed together properly. Cover the wok and let the mixture simmer for a while. After about twenty minutes, the time could vary, come and check on the mixture. The chicken should be soft and break easily, and the mixture should be giving off the oil drops in the karahi.

Chop some coriander and use it to garnish the boneless Chicken karahi. Enjoy with a roti the tangy flavors, the passionate red color and the assault on the senses from the yummy aroma due to all the herbs and spices in the recipe. Mmm...

This is one recipe that is definitely worth a try if you want to foray into the world of Pakistani cooking. I am now encouraged to start cooking again also, phew. God bless!

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