Just like el Pollo Rico but my way

So there was this one time I visited my cousin ,Dharam in Washington DC . At that point of time I was working in Trinidad and Tobago at the Hilton and while trying to play tennis had fractured my wrist in two spots .

There wasn’t much point of continuing to work or trying to so for once in my hospo career I had time off for xmas.

What could I do..i was bored stiff living on the island since it had limited things on offer…so I called Dharam and said I’m stuck here ..he very kindly said come on over . The adventure had just begun with the world worst airline possible American and me landing in Miami late after refusing to eat a damn turkey sandwich or cookie as a main meal.

Delayed arrival meant I would have to run really hard between international arrivals and domestic departure in Miami . Since it was my first arrival and I was handicapped with a cast ..the airport security took extra special care to ensure that I don’t leave on time .

Finally after the finger printing and all the rest was over I run over to Dulles departure and boom I’m late by 1 min and 90 seconds and the pende…wont give me the time of the day.

The next 3 hrs I tried to see if I can take another flight to Dulles but not a chance..so I’m stuck with hardly any money no luggage and no clothes apart from what I was wearing and no clue what to do.

Anyhow I made my own way to the Miami Hilton paid for the room myself and blasted the American Airlines who sent me a stupid letter and voucher which I never used .( I never used the airline either)

So Dharam so a gourmand and knew the way to the best places for the food and took me to the best damn charcoal roasted chicken ever…they would only sell chicken fried with salsa verde and alfajores with dulce de leche . Nothing else nada.but the chicken was finger licking good that I still salivate at the thought of it.

With all the story my Pollo is still crudo.( Raw for the gringos who doesn’t speak Spanish)

So you need a chicken whole is better skin on too doesn’t have to be free range unless you get really deep pockets.

It’s better to have one split in half unless you got a rotisserie and a fancy pants oven , which most of us might not have. If you do..then by all means use it

So we marinde the chicken with salt pepper and some olive oil inside and out..

Then make a paste with

Garlic cloves -5-6 smash them first

Chipotle chilli in adobo -1 or more if you like it hotter..

Chicken stock powder- 1/2 tsp.

Olive oil – 20 ml/ 1 Tb

Lime/ lemon juice- 1-2 Tb depending on how acidic these are.

juice from 1 orange .

salt , pepper , and pinch of cumin ground.

Mariande the chicken under the skin and over it too.. and keep for minimum of 12 hrs , over night is even betterer..( don’t check my spellings that was deliberate to see if you are still awake)

Next you can fire up your bbq / charcoal oven or your regular home oven. Heat it to about 220 C first to get it nice and hot.- abot 20 mins on mine, I dont know yours , but you could invite me to yours with some nice warm beers and ill cook it for you.

keep your chicken skin side up , on a griddle/ trivet so the excess fat drains off and you use that to baste over your chook.

After the initial high heat, drop the temperature to 150-160 C, and keep on low and slow till done.

How to check that it is done, well you can use a meat thermometer or use a small paring knife and pierce near the thigh, if the clear juice runs out will be done. Takes about 35-40 mins.

During the roasting process, take the juice which is dripping down and use that to pour over your chicken and keep it moist and flavourfull

Serve your chicken with some thick cut french fries dusted with toasted cumin powder mixed with smoky paprika , salt and a bit of pepper.

Some green salsa or a Salsa rojo will go well too..How do we make those…Well thats another story for another time…

Chiwda or more tails of growing up.

So when were young or rather younger, we as in my younger brother Deep and I would go off to my Ajjis( grandmother in Marathi)house. Aai and Baba being doctors were busy so would send us there before school began at 1230 .

Since I always had a taste for the savoury or rather the tasty snacky bits I and Deep too would get a bowl of Ajjis chiwda. For the uninitiated Chiwda is snack or pharal made at any time of the year but also predominantly at Diwali the festival of lights.Every family claims that their secret recipe is Manna from heaven .Having been an afficionado since me tender years I can also make vague claims like these..

Makes you happy , makes you smile..all nonsense..

So you need to make this with poha ,( a kind of flattened rice flakes) , which I don’t know the history of.I am not going to say these are hand beaten by young Marathi people in one little lane of Pune , but it could be true..and add some embellishments to my little tail.

Now these rice flakes come in varying thicknesses and this particular recipe is for ” Paratlela pohyachya Chiwda”, which needs the thinnest variety called Pattal poha or Nylon poha.

Poha flakes- 500 g

Oil-20 ml

Ghee- clarified butter-20 g or so..

Mustard seeds black 1/2 t about 1 g if you wanted to be pedantic and weigh it

Cumin seeds/ Jeera- 1 t, 2.5 g

Curry leaves-1 sprig

Green chilli-1-2. Chopped fine ,can go a bit more if you like to burn your taste buds

Garlic -1-2 cloves sliced very thin…cant do it ..go back to post where you learn to sharpen your knife.

Asafoetida- small pinch Ferula asafoetida comes from Afghanistan or Iran and is compounded and mixed with wheat flour usually.. this is typically used as anti flatulent in most indian foods which are snacky or with lentils beans …

Roasted peanuts with skin on typically…yay you can go berserk with quantity here I’ve developed an intolerance over the years but love these still.

Roasted chickpeas skinless called daliya- about 2 T, 25 g or so.

Cashew nuts – 2 T, 50 g or so..if you are feeling rich..can be made without and tastes just as good.

Ok moving on to the method…At the end I’ll share a story of how I eated a whole lot and drove my Ajji mad.

So traditionally the poha flakes are sauteed lightly over a low heat for a long time till they get cripsy..( the typos are deliberately put in to check if you are noticing)

But I like to roast these in an oven low heat so that avoids breaking the grains..so about 120 C for about 30 mins on low fan or zero fan . Turning every ten mins or so.

Then you heat the oil, and add the mustard seeds and crackle them , take off he heat add cumin, curry leaves , chilli garlic , asafoetida and turmeric ( which I hadn’t added to the list of the ingredients so about 1/2 t or 2 g)

Add also the daliya, peanuts and cashew and saute..of course by now you have gotta put back on the heat. This you do till the cashew and the daliya is toasted and cruncheee.

Then add salt and sugar which are also not in the list of ingredients..because U need to gauge how much you want to add here ..and the rice flakes .turn that oven off now and U could use the residual heat to dehydrate mandarin slices or so..

Then continue to saute till the rice flakes are well mixed and not burning..low heat..please.Add in the ghee and check for seasoning and taste from time to time . At this point my wife shouts saying stop being greedy.

Usually I have this stuff stored all through the year like Ajji used to.

She was 70 + when we were kids so I’m pretty sure we harassed her a fair bit without meaning to..there was once I climbed up on the chair took down the container of chiwda and ate it all up.when she woke up from her afternoon nap she was furious…as was meant to be rationed over the next few weeks …ohh the memories..”arree melyano, khetra ni badveen”( meaning, you little brats/ rascals, i want to smack you with my slippers).

The Art of the ” Cully puff” or more heart breaking things ( quite literally)

So this is an ode to something very snacky can be a bite or a bit more substantial it’s all upto the doer / cooker.

I’ve called it the Cully puff after Chef Prakob who would pronounce a curry that way but with absolutely no disrespect..That guy was a master Thai chef , when I was a humble trainee in Delhi at The Oberoi and at India’s first Thai restaurant ” Baan Thai”.

But apart from the name that little introduction had nothing to do with what we are looking to cook.

This little confection can be as fancy pants as you want it to be or a really simple street food in India , where I first ate it. Over the years in many different parts of the world I’ve seen different versions of something similar with various different fillings and varying degrees of sophistication.

What this is essentially is a flaky pastry triangle or rectangle filled with mix of vegetables quite spicy of course and potato…something which we could afford to buy for 2 Rs at one point of time ( approximately 5 cents ) when I was in college in 1988-90. The place making this since closed down and moved to my delight 200 mtrs away from my house in Pune . Santosh bakery where they would bake these in a wood fired monster sized oven and then they would be a queue of people lined up to buy them burning hot from the oven.oozing trans fats ( who knew there was such a thing in the 90’s) these were quite amazing.

So here is my take on them. This recipe makes about 8 .

Flaky or puff pastry – 250 g / get a good quality one pre rolled if you can or you can pay me to teach you how to make it.

For the filling.

  • Peeled and chopped brown onion -1/2 / 50 g
  • Boiled and peeled potato- 1 medium /200 g
  • Oil – 20 ml
  • Cumin seeds whole – 2 g/ 1/4 t
  • Ginger and garlic paste or chopped -20 g
  • Turmeric -1/4 t / 1 g
  • Curry powder 1/2 t / 3 g
  • Coriander leaves chopped -1 sprig
  • Mint leaves chopped -1 sprig ( U can add more of this and coriander they are there to aromatise the filling.
  • Green peas-1 T or about 20 g
  • Carrot 1/2 small about 25 g or can be replaced with frozen mixed vegetables