Sumitra had just finished her morning chores. Her kids were off to school. The morning sun shined gently on her veranda. She switched on the dusty transistor that sat in one corner of the living room from time eternal ..... it was time for her daily dose of Vividh Bharati. She pulled up the cane chair and sat in the winter sun sipping away her tea and listening to her favorite old Hindi numbers from the eighties.
Her rusted iron gate made a sharp screeching noise, the brown paint on it was already peeling off .... she turned back to see who it was. Her neighbor, Mrs Kumar came hurrying towards her with a packet of sondesh (sweets). The silver foil on the sondesh glittered in the sun and so did Mrs Kumar. She was beaming with joy and pride. Mrs Kumar had smudged some extra talcum powder on her face and her big kohl laden eyes sparkled.
Sumitra and Mrs Kumar had been neighbors from a long time. They had got married around the same time and had moved into the neighborhood just about the same time . Also their husbands worked in the same Sarkari office.
"Meethai kish khusi mein" (What's the good news ), Sumitra asked, picking up a piece of Sondesh from the box. That was exactly what Mrs Kumar was waiting to hear so that she could spill her beans.
"Humare ghar mein aaj subah telephone connection laag gaya, isshi khusi mein" (Got a new telephone connection this morning), said Mrs Kumar in a very dramatic voice."Badhai Ho" (Congratulations),Sumitra said in a feeble voice, her mouth still stuffed with Sondesh.
"Do come home sometime to have a look at our new phone. And don't forget to get Cheeku and his Papa. I will give you my number so that your relatives can call you. Incoming if free she emphasized. This was exactly what Sumitra didn't want to hear. She always wanted to be the first one to get a telephone connection in her colony.
She could hardly wait for Rakesh, her husband to come back from work. Something seemed to bother her the entire day and she was restless. In spite of all this she was making Rakesh's favorite tea time snack. That was something that she would only do on special occasions to bring back the lost charm to her decade old married life.
She waited impatiently walking up and down the verandah ..... her eyes glued on the rusted iron gate and the dusty road. Time stood still for her. As soon as she heard the sound of Rakesh's scooter, she ran towards the gate.
"Mrs Kumar k ghar pe telephone connection laag gaya ji", were the first words she uttered. And to her agony Mrs Kumar's phone rang at that very moment .... the sound loud enough for all her neighbors to hear.
Soon she served the samosa that she had painfully prepared during the afternoon with some tea. They spoke very less between the tea .... Rakesh was busy eating the samosa and nooded his head in affirmation to whatever Sumitra said. He knew no matter what he says, the last word would be of Sumitra's.
Well six months have passed since then. Rakesh had taken a half day off the very next day to put the application for the telephone connection. There are no updates from the telecom department since then. Mrs Kumar drops in once in a while to narrate her 'telephone tales'. And Sumitra still sits on her cane chair waiting for the guy from the telecom office to come with the 'black' equipment and a roll of black wires.
This recipe has been adapted from Nigella's website. I was a bit intimidated by the long list of ingredients. But it turned out to be an easy breezy recipe .... and absolutely finger licking good.
Preparation Time - 60 minutes
Serves - 6
Fresh Ginger Peeled - 2.5cm
Garlic cloves peeled - 4 big
Ground Cumin - 2 tsp
Ground Coriander - 1 tsp
Dried Chilli - 1/2 tsp
Ground Almonds - 4 tbsp
Water - 125 ml
Cardamon Pods - 5 Bruised
Cinnamon Stick - 2 inches
Bay Leaves - 2
Cloves - 4
Vegetable Oil - 4 tablespoon
Chicken Thigh bone in/ boneless - 1.5 kg
Onion - 2 large
Greek Yogurt - 250 ml
Double Cream - 125 ml
Raisins - A handful
Garam Masala - 1tsp
Castor sugar - 1 tsp
Almonds for garnishing
Method of Preparation
1. Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and chilli into a food processor, and blend to a paste. Add the ground almonds and water, then blend again, and set aside. Traditionally, this would be done with a pestle and mortar, and there's nothing to stop you using those, or a little spice grinder.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces - in batches so they fry rather than stew - and cook them just long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.
3. Tip in the bowlful of spices and turn them in the oil. Peel and finely chop the onions, add to the pan of spices, and cook until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently, to avoid them catching. Pour in the blended paste, and cook everything until it begins to color. Add the yogurt, 125ml at a time, stirring it in to make a sauce; then stir in the cream and sultanas. Add a little water if required.
4. Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and sprinkle over the garam masala, sugar and salt. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the chicken meat is cooked through.
5. Garnish with flaked almonds
Serve warm with any Indian Flat Bread or Rice/ Pilaf