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  • Rohan Kamicheril

Tindora with Chicken


Our appetites have minds and moods of their own. This dish grew out of one of those wayward moods.


I was strolling the aisles of Patel Brothers (something I get to do less and less these days!) and desperately wanted to do something with tindora (or tendli, or dondakaya, or, really, take your pick of name) but wasn’t sure what. I love dondakayi vepudu and I love tendli bhaat, but I always make those when I get tendli and I was craving something different. A little brothy, a little spicy—maybe something that combined elements of the vepudu with its crunchy peanuts and the goda masala I usually put in tendli bhaat. But I wanted to put some chicken in it, too.


It’s perhaps not ideal to say, since it doesn’t sound particularly inspiring, but this mental mayhem is, in fact, where some recipes come from. And they’re no worse for it. This dish is almost certainly the definition of a mish-mash, but I love it and it’s surpassingly easy to make. The chicken adds some heft and a certain savoriness that I can’t quite put into words, and the tindora become wonderfully supple and snappy when just cooked through.


Altogether, this little chimerical dish is soothing, intriguing, and wonderfully apt on a cool early-summer day. Take a leaf out of my book and don’t overthink it: just make it and relish the delicious chaos.


 

TINDORA WITH CHICKEN

Serves 3–4


INGREDIENTS


1 small onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into thin slices through the root

1 tsp goda masala

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried ginger powder


1 lb tindora, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes


¼ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts


To marinate the chicken:

2 tablespoons goda masala

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tsp dried garlic

1 tsp ground, dried ginger


Ghee for cooking


PREPARATION


Season the chicken with a teaspoon of salt, the 2 tablespoons of goda masala, turmeric, garlic and ginger, mix to coat well with the spices and set aside.


In a large, heavy-bottomed pan (or a clay pot, which is what I used), heat 2 tablespoons of ghee till it begins to shimmer in the pan.


Add the peanuts and cook, stirring often, till they turn aromatic and a shade darker. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside for now.


Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, till they have softened and stared to turn a light shade of gold.


Tip in the 1 teaspoon of goda masala along with the turmeric and powdered ginger and garlic. Stir well and allow to cook for just two to three minutes or until the spices bloom and you can smell their aromas.


Add the tindora and a teaspoon of salt and continue to cook for a few minutes, or until they are well coated in the spices and oil.


Add the chicken and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is lightly browned all over.


Add half to three-quarters of a cup of water to the pan—there should be less than an inch of water at the bottom of the pan. Mix well and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any bits of browned spices or fond.


Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook for ten minutes, or until the tindora is tender and the chicken is cooked through.


Check for seasoning and adjust salt as needed. Garnish with the roasted peanuts and serve while still piping hot.

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