Thursday, June 01, 2006

What a handful of dates can do to a simple curry

My aunt Jiya is one cook whom I never get tired watching. There is a graceful rhythm in the way she goes about her job in the kitchen, whether sorting vegetables or marinating meat or grinding spices. As a child I have stood by her stove for hours, as she stirred and sautéed with such tender attention to the nuances of tastes and textures, for the simple pleasure of watching her create each dish, and the spoonfuls of affection she offers me in between.
Last time I went to her home in Kerala, she served us this chicken curry, the first mouthful of it was enough for me to fall in love with its creamy, well-balanced taste. There was a certain delicateness in the taste that I could not place.
“What’s in it? I had asked.
“Guess and tell me”
“ hmm. Coconut certainly, and then either cashew or poppy seeds, but there’s something else too..what’s it?”
“just some dates” her eyes twinkled.

Dates in a chicken curry, it would have sounded weird to me if I had heard the recipe before tasting it, one tasting of her curry was enough to change my perceptions. Since then I have cooked this many times, and shared it with many friends and watched a few hearts falling in love with it. So here’s the recipe, from my aunt.

Chicken pieces : 2 lb
Onion, sliced: 1
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Tomato: 1 medium sized
Green chilli : 2or 3
Red chilli powder : 2 tsp
Coriander powder(roasted) 2 tsp
Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp
Cilantro, chopped: ¼ cup
Curry leaf : 4-6
Oil : 2 T
Hot water : 1 cup

Cashewnuts,(raw): 2 T
Coconut: 2T
Dates: 3 to 4

Grind cashews, coconut and dates together to a smooth paste and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pot, and add ginger-garlic paste, crushed green chillies, sliced onions, curry leaves and cilantro. Fry till the onion is transparent.

Now add the three powders; turmeric-red chilli-corriander and sauté on low heat for about a minute and a half to release their flavors.

Then add the chopped tomato pieces and keep cooking till the tomatoes lose their shape, give out their essence completely and merge with the spice to form one tantalizing entity. I need a chicken curry recipe, not philosophy you say? Fine. Then simply fry the tomatoes till they are all mashed up into a gravy.

Add chicken, water and salt. Mix well , cover and let it cook. You might want to check once or twice in between to see if there’s enough water.

Once the chicken is cooked, pour the coconut-cashew-dates paste and bring the curry to a boil. Remove , and serve hot. This curry goes very well with rotis and breads.

I am taking a bowl of this chicken curry to Anthony's curry mela that he puts together so diligently , every week!


archana said...

I am always looking for new taste twists for our old chciken curry, and am defanitely going to try this. Thanks for posting

Gini said...

Sounds good. I am bookmarking this recipe.

shilpa said...

Lovely. I good one Reshma.

Tina Jennifer D'Silva said...

Hey Reshma.. sounds yummy. I am gonna try this one. Thanx for sharing..

Manukoose said...


Shankari said...

I have only eaten dates as is, I should try to do this for mock chicken

Reshma said...

Archana, Gini, Tina, I hope you'll like it as much as I do.

Shilpa, thanks.

Manukoose , welcome!

Shankari, mock chicken? am curious , what is it ?

Bindu Vijayakumar said...

Hi Resma,

Yet another delight in your blog !

It really looks yummy and need to try it this sunday. Will let you know how it turns out.

"I need a chicken curry recipe,
not philosophy you say? "

Hey not at all...these sort of philosphies in between..make ur post very interesting...keep going...
you simply rock !

Sumitha said...

Another must try!So glad to find a variation to the usual chicken curry.

Reshma said...

Bindu Vijayakumar, you can always give me a 'stop-fast forward' sign when it gets unbearable;) Thank you.

Sumitha, d o let me know if you liked it :)

Ashwini said...

Beautiful Reshma...I am sold. I will try and let you know

Aparna said...

The curry, yes it is something, but your aunt is most wonderful lady i think. When you said, aunty feeds you a spoon in between while cooking, i was just thinking about me and my daughter in the kitchen... i know i will stop here.. else it goes long :)

Shankari said...

hi Reshma,

We buy soy or tofu products that have the texture and feel of chicken and fish.Visit my blog and you will see mock fish. We normally find these in Chinese stores and love it

Anonymous said...

oh! I want to try this. wish there was some feature,where I could just click on a blog post and it gets added to my blogs under the heading, "TO DO" or something like that.

prapra said...

Reshma, I assume you read the last comment by LG. I have a workaround for this, by posting this to I can send you the code you need to put in your template if you are interested. See how Peringodan has done it here, just before the comments section. Its a convenient way of saving your bookmarks online. can reach me:
prabeshp അറ്റ്‌ ജീമെയില്‍ ഡോട്ട്‌ കോം.

Reshma said...

Ashwini, happy dating. I mean happy cooking.yes, i like being silly;)

Shankari, Thanks for that information. i'm coming right away to take a peek at this mysterious thing :)

LG, PraPra here seems to have some plan for that...let's ee. kavalappeedaathe ungalu;)

perspective said...

This looks fantastic! really... I HAVE TO make it!

maddy said...

I came across your blogs by chance, and found them pretty neat...

keep it up..hv u by any chance come across a good kozhikodan biriyani recipe?

Raji said...

The way you've narrated your aunt and the dish is very impressive. Defintely will try out this. Anyway, I am new to blogging i would be very happy if you can check out mine

Anonymous said...


Join the dates loving community. Am sure gonna try the dates with chicken curry. I guess you must be interested in the dates halwa here

Fecho said...

Hi Reshma! You can write your aunt Jiya to Kerala that a lady in Canada (moi) prepared this dish for her party and five guest asked for the recipe. It looks like your aunt started a worldwide trend.. :)))

Girija said...

ഞാനും ഈ ബ്ലോഗിന്റെ സ്ഥിരം സന്ദര്‍ശകയാണ്‌

എനിക്ക്‌ ഈ ബ്ലോഗ്‌ വളരെ ഇഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടതാണ്‌. വളരെയധികം രുചിയുള്ള പാചകക്കുറിപ്പുകല്‍ ഇവിടെയുണ്ട്‌.

ഞങ്ങള്‍ ഈയിടെ ഒരു "മലയാളം പാചകക്കുറിപ്പുകളുടെ" ഒരു വെബ്‌ സൈറ്റ്‌ തുടങ്ങി.

സൗകര്യം പോലെ അവിടം സന്ദര്‍ശിക്കുക.

ഞങ്ങളുടെ വിലാസം

നിങ്ങള്‍ക്കിഷ്ടപ്പെട്ട വിഭവങ്ങളുമായി ഞങ്ങള്‍ അവിടെ കാത്തിരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്‌

വരുമല്ലോ ??.... ഞങ്ങള്‍ കാത്തിരിക്കും

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