OK, I'll admit it. This recipe from my mum is so easy that I had half a mind to tinker with it just so it looked a little more difficult. Not that I did, mind, because in my world, the simpler the better. And why mess around with a winner anyway?
In fact, my actual notes for this recipe went something like this - chicken, chilly, bit ginger, garlic, taste salt, lemon, whatever stuff, marinate, fridge, fry lowish oil.
Yes, that's how I scribble my notes when on a phone call with mum, mostly in between discussion about family and friends and children and coconut trees and cousins and visas and visits and everything (and everyone, wink) else in world.
I made this chicken fry a few weeks ago, but felt like making it again to celebrate my birthday. When I was a kid, birthdays were a lot of fun, but there wasn't a huge fuss made, one way or another. We would get to go to school in 'colour dress', which basically meant not in uniform, and we handed out chocolates or candies to the rest of our class. But of course, I had to make this simple routine difficult for my mum, right? Right. My birthday, unfortunately for me, almost always co-incided with mid term examinations. Without fail, for the first seventeen years of my life! Sigh! Not much celebrating you can do, when all you can think of is studying your backside off for maths or science exams.
The other problem was those sweets for classmates. Guess what? Yes, complicated by the fact that most of our exams were held in huge, and I mean, massive, halls with at least three hundred students. And you can't hand out sweets to one group of students and not to others. My poor mum almost always had to buy those massive quantities of sweets, and I would get the chance to hand them out right after the morning exam. I once remember spending about half an hour, distributing those chocolates to every single kid in that exam hall, and I reached the end of the hall, and I was four lousy chocolates short!!! I still remember the look of disappointment on those four kids' faces as I told them I'd run out and they were getting no chocs :-(
I did make up for all the disappointment when I hit eighteen though... my cake for that year had the very cheesy slogan '18 till I die'... , yes I was a huge Bryan Adams fan, cringe!! And of course, I remember fondly the birthdays I spent at university, where my friends would surprise me in the middle of the night with a cake, which would then be unceremoniously smeared all over my face :-) And of course, my milestone 30th, for which Kay surprised me with a dinner with our friends ay my favourite restaurant in Parkgate near Liverpool, the Marsh Cat.
Last year, I made my prawn biriyani for my birthday dinner, this year its going to be this chicken, along with a few other goodies that I quite enjoy. And as I turn another year, I am beginning to get happier and happier every time I get id'd at a liquor store :-) That's called growing old gracefully, don'tcha know?
A long long time ago :-)Recipe:
4 chicken thighs, skinless if possible
About 1 - 2 tbsp oil for shallow frying
Lemon wedges to serve
½ tsp hot chilly powder (you do need it for the best flavour, but do adjust according to taste)
2 garlic cloves, grated into a paste
1 inch piece of ginger, grated into a paste
1 - 2 tsps salt or to taste
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp garam masala
1 tbsp paprika (optional)
Juice of one large lemon (around 4 - 5 tbsp)
Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Taste, then adjust the seasoning to your taste, if required.
Marinate the chicken pieces, rubbing the marinade in with your fingers. Refrigerate at least 4 - 6 hours, even better, overnight for the maximum flavour.
When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat the oil in a heavy pan, and add the chicken pieces. Fry on a medium high heat, turning frequently for about 12 - 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces, until they are cooked all the way through. A little charring adds to the flavour. Be careful though, it does splatter quite a lot.
Drain on kitchen paper, and serve hot with lemon wedges and some mint chutney, if desired.
Note: You can barbeque the chicken instead of frying it. Brush the chicken with a little oil before grilling for between 10 - 15 minutes, again turning frequently. Baking or grilling in an oven is also possible, follow the same instructions as the BBQ.