The other day the maid took a day off. On being questioned the next day, she revealed they had a tyohaar. They make halwa, kala chana etc & offer it to their God. Sounded suspiciously similar to what North India does for Navratras. What God do they follow, I venture further. Humlog Allah ko maante hain. With names like Seema & Julie who would have ever guessed! Seema is the mother, Julie, her first born. The younger ones are Ruby & Alisha. I tell her, her daughters have real filmi names. She beems in pride. Humlog ke gaon mein aisa hi naam rakhte hain, didi.
Didis can nag big time. Kaun sa gaon hai aapka? Turns out her village is near Banaras. They celebrate all festivals. Their names transcend religious barriers. There is no jaat-paat ka kich-kich. What an ideal situation, I think. How radical are these illiterate farmers! They could teach a lesson or two to the 'leaders' who ignite discrimination for their vested interests. And keep the issue burning for want of a constructive agenda.
The progressive poor come to cities, the men take up work on the construction sites, the wives work as domestic help in the apartments in the vicinity, the children go to the neighborhood school, they make more money than they did back home & keep wondering why it still isn't enough. Bahut kharcha hai yahan didi. I couldn't agree more.
It is Saturday morning. We are having French-toast for breakfast. Seema comes in to work. I suggest she eat before starting. Kya banayein hai? Anda hai? Hum anda nahi khate hain. I express surprise, I thought she was a non-vegetarian? Nahin, khate hain, lekin abhi saawan chal raha hai na. Oh okk and I give her plain bread & chai. She scrubs the gas stove as if washing its sins & takes out the frames & cleanses them too! Here is a devout Muslim who goes vegetarian in saawan & keeps her roza too. And here is a Hindu Brahmin who posts chicken recipes in saawan & is unapologetic about it....
1. 1kg chicken- deskinned & cut
2. 250 gms palak - washed & chopped
3. 1 large onion - cubed
4. 2 tomatoes- cubed
5. 1tbsp roughly chopped ginger & garlic
6. 2-3 green chillies- chopped
7. 2 tsp whole garam masala(cardamom, cinnamon, clove)
8. 1 tsp turmeric powder
9. Salt to taste
NO OIL, NO WATER.
1. Arrange layers of (from bottom) chopped palak, onion, tomato, ginger & garlic, chillies, chicken pieces & whole garam masala in a pressure pan/cooker.
2. Sprinkle turmeric powder & salt, close the lid of the cooker & give the Hara Murgh 3-4 whistles, two on high flame & the rest on medium.
3. Open lid to find chicken cooked & water from palak giving it gravy. Let the dish simmer on high to reduce water & make it more palatable.
Insight: The oil floating(pic 4) is animal fat & not any that has been externally added.
Serve hot with plain rice & enjoy health & happiness.
Before making this recipe, I'd wanted to fry the cooked chicken for an added jazz. But the simmer-and-condense-gravy formula worked so well that an absolutely oil-free chicken dish was the result! And nobody's complaining :)