Even as I child my mother used to say that I could 'read' flavours. I would taste a dish and identify a few key ingredients here or there and my mother would complete the (recipe) puzzle. She was famous for trying dishes in restaurants or even at wedding buffets for that matter and then trying to replicate them at home. A much revered one remains entrenched with Ashok Bhaiya, our man Friday for 30 years and possibly the only man with this recipe because the said establishment closed long ago. This was 'Chicken Khas-e-Kalinga' from the erstwhile Qutab Hotel's Indian kitchen and even though it tasted suspiciously like a regular homemade chicken curry, the addition of 'kalonji' or nigella seeds made it gourmet food fit for a 5 star, this was back in 1994! Mom wasn't with me long enough to see my food journey but I know she would be happy with the way the kitchen has shaped up in my home! We re-purpose, we are going somewhat organic (I'm still so iffy on so many things), we make our own snacks and breads, we make preserves and squashes, pickles too but most of all, we come together at the table and create lovely food memories, as often as possible. And some of those memories we bring home and recreate in our kitchen just to remain close to them!
Copycat Chicken Hakimi (Best had at Al Karam’s Gurgaon/Delhi)
½ kg boneless chicken, cut into 2” pieces
½ cup Yogurt
1 tbsp Deggi Mirch
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tbsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2.5 tbsp Tandoori Chicken Masala + ½ Cup Yogurt
For the ‘Copycat Hakimi’ gravy:
1 cup Cream
4 tbsp Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek)
3 tbsp Olive Oil for frying
2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Coriander leaves for garnish
1 tbsp Ginger Slivers for garnish
Lemon Juice (optional)
Method: Marinate the chicken if you're cooking from scratch, if you're going with store bought marinated chicken tikka, then you may want to halve them since we won't be skewered and grilling or roasting. Marinate for about 2 hrs. As much as I love even an oven char, it tends to try the a meat like lean chicken breast, out pretty fast. Direct heat of a coal grill is best but then how many of us are blessed with tandoor's in our kitchens?! Sigh!
Heat the olive oil in a deep wok, keep space for the meat to move around, this is all high flame cooking. Don't let it burn or overheat, add the marinated chicken and stir fry on a high flame for about 5-7 minutes or till the moisture evaporates and the pieces begin to pan char. Lower the flame and slowly add the cream, fold it in gently, once it begins to bubble, see if you want a bit more of the masala gravy and add a little milk to thin it. Check the salt, add the kasuri methi, mix it in gently. Transfer to a serving bowl, use a spatula to get all the good stuff, garnish with fresh coriander and garlic slivers! Enjoy!
Serving Suggestion: This is best enjoyed with a hot naan or a homemade pita.