Akhrot Murg (Chicken in a Walnut-based Gravy)

There are plenty of ways in which my life has changed since I've moved to Bangalore. The cozy comforts of Calcutta are gone. This is the city which strongly adheres to the Darwinian theory of the Survival of the Fittest. I am surviving no doubt, but with each passing day my fitness is going for a toss. Major back pain, indigestion, fatigue and stress have overhauled my life. No wonder my cooking and blogging have gone down drastically over the last 3 months. After a lot of discord, I was forced to give in to P's decision to hire a cook because my health was just not permitting cooking on a regular basis. On hindsight, it seems to have been a good stand because the one we've got is quite a catch! This makes life easier for me as now I do not have to cook as a chore, but only as fun. But then, cooking was never a chore to me!
Exactly a month back, I had my Mum and B Mashi visit us for a fortnight. It was a Saturday and their train was to reach at 4 pm. I was going to meet Ma after almost 3 months and absolutely had to come out of the drudgery of my morbid routine and hit the kitchen again. We woke up late (as always) and by the time I was done with the peripheral stuff, it was 2. With very little time at hand, I decided to go for a straight and simple Chicken Curry that could be aptly paired with Mutton Biryani (from Paradise Restaurant that has opened up bang opposite to our apartment). I had made this Akhrot Chicken around 2 years back and it had featured as one of my very first blog posts. But honestly, I had forgotten how it tasted like. So I chose to revisit the recipe. By the time I was done cooking it was 2.40 pm. As I was cleaning up, I found P scoop out some gravy with his paratha and pop it in his mouth. A few minutes later, he repeated his action. Now when it comes to food, he is possibly the most passive and neutral person I've met. He eats to fill is stomach, hardly ever for the taste. You give him a bowl of cornflakes and a plate of biryani and he would devour both with equal nonchalance. Wait, he might just enjoy the cornflakes more! So when I saw him dip his paratha into the gravy TWICE, I was a bit surprised. I tasted a spoonful myself and holy cow, wasn't it good! The clock was nearing 3 and I still had to take my bath before leaving for the station at 3.30. But what the heck! I'd be going to office straight from the station and therefore had to shoot it immediately. In a hurry I took out my camera gear, arranged the food and took a few quick shots before darting for the station.
That night when I came back home at 1.30 am, Ma, Mashi and P were waiting up for me, like always. They sat with me as I finished my dinner. I asked them whether they've had a good meal. It is but obvious that the first thing anybody living away from home misses is Maa-r haater ranna (Mom's cooking). But it evokes a completely different sentiment when your mother, on eating after 3 months what you've cooked, says, "I've missed your food!"
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Chicken: 1 kilo
Walnuts, powdered: 2/3rd cup
Onion, pasted: 2
Tomato, pureed: 2
Garlic: 2 Tablespoons
Ginger: 1 Tablespoon
Yoghurt: 2/3rd Cup
Cumin powder: 2 Teaspoons
Coriander powder: 1 Teaspoon
Red Chilli powder: 1 Teaspoon
Green Chillis: 3-4
Cream: 4 Tablespoons
Olive oil/ Ghee: 2 Tablespoons
Salt, to taste


Method:

1. Marinate chicken pieces with ginger, yoghurt, half the garlic and half the cumin powder and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.

2. Heat oil/ghee in pan. Add the paste of 2 onions and the remaining garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

3. Add 2 slit green chillis, puree of 1 tomato and thicken the paste.

4. Add the rest of the cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt and 1 tbsp powdered walnuts and cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes or so..

5. Now add the marinated chicken pieces and cook on high heat till oil separates. Reduce the temperature and continue to simmer covered for another 5-10 minutes. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.

6. In a different bowl, mix 1/2 cup powdered walnuts with the cream (milk will also do) and add it to the gravy. Mix well and llet it simmer for another 5 minutes.

7. Serve hot with steamed rice/ roti/ paratha/ naan etc.
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