Sometimes, it would be for a simple mutton jhol, sometimes for a plain maach bhaja with rice and dal and on another day it would be for chicken.
The cravings would turn worse on the Sundays that I could not go over and our dabba would be missing.
Hunger pangs, nostalgia pangs, homesickness pangs ... everything would set in all at once. And I would feel I will not be able to live one more day if I did not get to eat this particular thing.
The result was always a call to Didi.
She would assure me she would get chicken/mutton/fish ... depending on my current craving ... and call me over.
I would calm down. Just for a while though.
Self pity would soon return ... usually early than later ... and I would wallow in tears for a while.
Then shake myself and walk down to the nearest udipi joint to get an Uttapam ... a novelty for me in those days.... smeared thick with coconut chutney and wrapped in a banana leaf, that would usually turn so soggy by the time I unwrapped it that I could easily cut it with a spoon.
After downing the terrible thing, I would reward myself with a local cupcake.
And wait for the next bout of hunger that came with dinner time.
I have never loved Mondays more in my life as I did then.
Anyway, this post is not about morose memories.
This is about a simple chicken dish that I had learnt during those days.
Saying learnt would be wrong.
On one of my visits, didi's neighbour had brought a plateful of this beautiful, fragrant dish.
One spoonful and we were in heaven.
Didi asked for the recipe and her neighbour described it.
And my head registered it.
Much later, when I had a home and a kitchen of my own, I made this.
It is simple, it is tasty, it is quick.
And absolutely loved it.
I have been making this ever since, but everytime I tried to click good photographs ( yes, there I go again ), I just could not. Hence no post.
This time, a few days back, I made it again for a quick lunch. Fell in love with it all over again.
And resolved to make a post ... good photographs or no.
I will not go into the details of the difference between a pulao and a biryani.
And also, this is a pulao and not the Bengali Polau.
Initially I used to make it in the pressure cooker but now I cook it in a heavy based kadahi or pan.
Chicken - 6 to 8 medium sized pieces
Lemon juice - 3 tbsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Rice - 1 and ½ cups, washed well
Sugar - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon / Dalchini - 1 small piece
Green cardamom - 2
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Beaten curd - 4 tbsp
Tomato - 1, grated ( optional )
Biryani masala powder - 1 tsp
How to :
Marinate the chicken with the lemon juice for half an hour.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadahi.
Add sugar. When it starts to caramelise, quickly add the haldi powder, red chilli powder, cloves, dalchini, and the green elaichi.
Now add the ginger and the garlic paste.
Fry well till oil starts to leave the sides.
Add the chicken, the beaten curd and salt.
Add 2cups of water and cover and cook till chicken is half done.
Remove cover, add the grated tomato and the rice.
Give a good stir and add 2½ cups of water.
Add the biryani masala.
Cover and cook till rice is just done and all water is soaked up.
Remember to check for water in between and if needed add a little more.
Cover and remove from heat, fluff it up lightly with a fork to loosen the rice, cover and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes more.
If you have the time and the inclination to, you can make some raita too.
I had tossed some cucumber, tomatoes, onions and green chillies with some lemon juice, black pepper powder and salt, to go with it.