Thursday, January 28, 2010

The hills are alive with the sound of music......

Just back from a trip to the Kumaon hills. Days were crisp and sunny, nights were cold. We had lovely Kumaoni food during the day, some soup and barbecued chicken sitting around the bonfire in the evening. The mountain air, all that trekking did wonders to our appepite. My kids seemed to wolf down food like there was no tomorrow. They seemed hungry all the time, at meal times/in between meals times and post meal times. We sampled some really different and nice stuff- Single( a sweet made with sooji, dahi, banana and saunf, resembles a jalebi: yumm!), Kapa( palak in a light besan gravy where the taste of palak dominates unlike in a kadhi), choley( cooked with chopped onion, tomato, ginger and garlic- not a thick gravy like their Punjabi counterparts) and many more. Surprisingly even my kids loved all of the above. We were quick to replace our regular tea with herbal tea( brewed with fresh herbs plucked from the garden and a dash of honey), nimboo pani was sweet and flavorsome( you guessed it, the nimboo plucked from the Lime tree in the orchard). What we have carried back is loads of herbs: rosemary, thyme, jumboo, basil etc. etc. and some apricot and cardamom preserve. We had rosemary chicken for dinner today. Polished off , so sorry no pictures accompanying this blog. I reproduce the recipe below and promise to add a picture the next time I make this dish, which should be pretty soon.

Rosemary Chicken
Chicken: About 400 grams
Lime juice: 1tbsp
Finely chopped garlic: 2 tbsp( I love garlic in my food so go a little overboard)
Rosemary: 1 tbsp, crush it lightly with your fingers when you add it, enhances the flavor
Chilli flakes: 1 tsp(optional, I happened to chance upon a packet of leftover Pizza Hut seasoning and added the same on impluse)
Salt to taste
Olive Oil: About 2 tbsp( you could use less but the oil does keep the pieces succulent)
Cornflour/maida: 1 tsp

Marinate the chicken with lime juice, salt, rosemary and garlic( you can also add the garlic later while you are cooking the chicken) for 3/4 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat olive oil. You could add the chopped garlic at this stage if you have not added it to the marinade. Add the chicken with the marinade and cook on high for a few minutes. This I am told seals in the flavor. Keep turning the chicken a couple of times. Then cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Once the chicken is done remove the lid, add the corn flour dissolved in 2 tbsps of water and the chilli flakes. Mix well and let the corn flour coat the chicken. Please remember to use very little corn flour. Serve hot with buttered toast. Would also go well with sauted veggies and mashed potato.
I am really excited about trying the other herbs(given the success with this one), they add a mild flavoring to the dish and make it taste quite different. One however needs to ensure that the flavor of none of the other ingredients dominate.

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music......and inspire me to cook some more!