Sunday, 15 March 2020

Nana's 6 onion Chicken Pathia

My Nana was born in Mangalore in India, got married young and moved to Kenya, leaving everything that she knew behind.  She had 6 children and a husband who's ambition was to get his family to the "Promised Lands" of the United Kingdom.  She has always been a brilliant cook but with over 60 years away from India her recipes have evolved and now at the ripe age of 85 there are just a few tried and tested recipes that remain.  I spent a day cooking one of her favourites with her a few weeks back and after a few attempts to remake it this is her  extra special Chicken Curry.  It follows no recipe that I know, but, tastes like the most incredible chicken Pathia you have ever eaten.  Like that classic hot, sweet, and sour you get from a British Indian restaurant's Chicken Pathia but homemade with a fraction of the sugar and oil used.

Ingredients:

The bulk
6 Onions
2 Peppers
1-5 Green Chillies (Depending how hot you like it - this dish is meant to pack a punch)
6 Chicken thighs (I prefer on the bone but fillets work just as well)
5 Garlic Cloves
1 inch piece of Ginger
1/4 cup of cooking oil (maybe more - I never actually measured)

The Sauce
2 tbs Tomato Puree
1 tbs Tamarind Paste
2 tbs Brown Sugar (or Jaggery if you have it!)
Chicken stock cube
Juice of one lime

The Spices
3 tsp Curry Powder (I use Madras hot curry powder)
1-2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (Kashimiri is for colour and flavour. Not heat)
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
Salt to taste.

Method:


1. Find someone to peel and dice the 6 onions for you.  Blend one of them with the ginger and garlic and set aside.  Dice the peppers, chunky chop the chillies - big enough for somebody to pick them out if they choose to.

2. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

3.  In your biggest pot, add the oil and fry the cinnamon stick for a minute.  Add the chopped onions. It will take time to fry this many onions properly but make sure that the onions are caramelising.  Add half a teaspoon of salt to help.

4. Add all the spices.  At this point you might need to add more oil if the pan gets dry.  Spices need to fry in oil so don't be afraid of it.  You are never going to add as much as your local takeaway does.  Fry for 5 minutes.

5. Add the diced peppers and fry.  Add the blended onion/ginger/garlic mix and fry thoroughly.  The main sweetness of this dish comes from this fried onion.  Steamed onion does not taste the same.  You should have a nice shine to the gravy.

6. Add the sauce mix and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the raw chicken and cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes.  Keep covered for the first 15 minutes.  If the sauce is looking thin then remove the lid to allow it to thicken.  If it is drying out just add water.




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