The sprawling house used to be full of Mamas, Mashis, Meshos and their brood.
Our Mamimas would get busy not only in the kitchen but also in planning numerous trips for shopping and eating out with their visitng Nanadinis (elder sisters in law).
Our Meshos would have a great time getting all the attentions and having their favourite dishes on their plates at every mealtime.
Sons in law, after all, are born to be pampered.
Bapi, the quiet but adventurous one, would get hold of Boro Mama and arrange for the jaal fyala
(throwing fish nets into the pond in the mornings to get fresh fish ).
That was one huge event.
A few farm hands from any one of our villages, usually the nearest one, would be notified a few days before the vacations.
The fish nets would be checked. Discussions on what fish would be kept for the meals and what would be released back would be discussed.
We children ... not less than 12 or 13 in number ... would jump up and down on the grassy banks of the pond ... running after the fish thrown on to the banks by the fishermen.
We would then pick up the huge, slithery, jumping fish, shrieking when they slipped out of our hands with full energy, struggle with them and put them back in a bucket.
Sometimes a tortoise or two would get caught and be handed over to us.
We would feed them and play with them all through our holidays. And promptly forget about them after returning back home.
They were released back into the pond by the elders after we left .... I would come to know later.
Evenings would be filled with adda, singing, everyone gathering around, munching on tidbits ... mostly gorom tele bhaja like the Beguni , shingara and chops brought in from the local shop in the corner, along with jhaal muri.
And the game of taash / cards.
Mostly by the poor Mamimas, who lost to the sons in law of the family.
The Meshos would be jubilant. It meant adding to the growing list of dishes to be cooked by the losing team.
But it is not always that the men won.
Boro Mami was an expert. As was Mejo Mashi.These two, nobody wanted as opponents.
Especially because when the men lost, they had to cook something for everybody.
That thought of spending time in the hot, old fashioned kitchen in the humid heat was enough to make them desperate to win ... by hook or by crook.
And by crook was the way that was usually taken.
But it was still not very easy for them and they often lost game after game.
After a point, the kitchen helps, who had to bear the brunt of the babus' presence in the kitchen, keeping up with their orders of cutting, mixing, grinding .... and at times cook too, protested.
So, it was decided that instead of cooking , the meshos would have to take us out for dinner or snacks, when they lost a game.
Which was a fearful proposition, to them.
Taking that huge family out for dinner and managing them was not only a risk to reputation, but also there would hardly be a restaurant that would take in that huge, boisterous crowd, readily.
And god knows how big the bill would run to.
So, they would often call and get the food delivered.
And it was one such evening that Mejo Mesho had called in for Chicken pakoras.
And that was how I came to taste the chicken pakora for the first time.
I don't remember eating this pakora anytime again, at the time. But after leaving home, I have eaten the Chicken tikka a number of times.
And have made them too.
These pakoras of mine are more Punjabi in flavours, that tempt me to call them the Chicken tikka.
But I will call them pakodas due to that beautifully crisp coating.
Since I do not like the breast pieces of the chicken ... I find them too fleshy .... I keep wondering what to do with them and sometimes come up with the strangest and quickest of recipes.
And one monsoon evening, I came up with this.
And instantly fell in love with it.
I had just bought a packet of Kitchen King masala powder by MDH and had added a spoonful to the
And it made all the difference.
Succulent pieces of chicken with a crisp coating, some hint of spice and the beautiful flavours of the kasuri methi and Punjabi garam masala was what I got in the end.
Breast pieces of the chicken - 150 gms, cut into small pieces
Buttermilk - 1 big cup
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp (preferably made at home )
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Maida / Apf - 2 tbsp
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Kitchen King powder - 1 tbsp
(if you do not have this, just add some crushed kasuri methi leaves + garam masala)
Salt - to taste
Oil - to shallow fry
Lemon juice - 2 tsp, use only if the buttermilk is not sour enough
How to :
Marinate the chicken pieces with buttermilk + ginger garlic paste + salt + a little oil + red chilli powder + maida + rice flour + Kitchen King powder.
Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 5 to 6 hours.
I marinated at night and cooked for brunch, at around 11, in the morning.
Do remember to take it out at least half an hour before cooking.
Heat oil in a well seasoned, open pan.
You can use a flat non stick tawa or pan too.
Add the chicken pieces, cover and cook on medium heat.
Turn over only when one side has browned.
Do not over cook or the chicken will turn chewy.
Serve hot off the pan with a salad or any dip of your choice.
Chopped up some cucumber, onions, green chillies and carrots, gave them a squirt of lemon and a dash of freshly ground black pepper powder and salt.
Finally squeezed half a pomegranate all over and a lovely salad was ready.
I had also made some plain parathas ... it was great fun to arrange the chicken pieces in them, heap some spoonfuls of salad , douse with a dip or ketchup, roll it up and munch on them as we chatted and laughed together.
These make for great finger food for parties, as well as to munch on with tea on a monsoon evening or a winter dusk.