We say India is a diverse country, but have we ever given its diversity some thought. Let me give you an example. I am a Punjabi who grew up in a Sindhi-dominated suburb, I had a Bengali neighbor and South Indian friends. In the early years of my working life, I worked in a suburb that had a predominant Gujarati community. I then moved to an Anglo-Indian suburb which had more bakeries than I could fathom and finally married into a very traditional Maharashtrian household.
And this has helped shaped not just my thought process but also my palate, which was no longer restricted to just eating “Punjabi food.” I can eat Sambhar (South Indian Lentil Stew), Macher Jhol (Bengali Fish Curry), Gujarati Kadhi (Gujarati yogurt broth), Sai Bhaji (Sindhi lentil & greens curry) and a Usal (Maharashtrian vegetarian curry) with the same amount of glee that I can tuck into a bowlful of Rajma Chawal (Punjabi style red kidney beans curry with rice).
Now if this is not cultural diversity what is?
So when Shaheen another Mumbai girl from Perth and the founder of the blog SpiceMama sent me a packet of East Indian Bottle masala, I knew I had to try the masala that I had heard so much about, and that Shaheen so proudly makes using her grandmother’s recipe. For those who don’t know, Bottle masala is a very popular spice blend made by East Indians using 20 -30 different spices, stored in dark bottles to be used throughout the year. I decided to go all out and make an East Indian chicken curry called “ Khudi.” And let me tell you this was one of the best Chicken curries that I have eaten in a long time. The masala was not overpowering or too spicy. It gave the Chicken a lovely color and blended beautifully with the Coconut. I would definitely recommend buying “Bottle masala” and making this Chicken curry that you probably have been missing out on.
Recipe courtesy: “The Essential Marathi Cookbook” – Kaumudi Marathe.
Bottle Masala: Spice mama bottle masala
Serves 4 – 6, Cooking time 1 ¼ hours
Khudi Spice paste:
4 medium Onions, finely sliced
4 green chilies, sliced
¼ freshly grated Coconut
1 tsp fresh Ginger
8 small cloves Garlic
Toast the Onions, chilies, and Coconut in a griddle till golden brown. Keep stirring to ensure they don’t burn or stick to the bottom of the griddle.
Grind into a paste with the Ginger and Garlic.
For the Chicken:
1 Kg Chicken cut into pieces
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp Bottle masala
1 -2 tsp Salt
1-2 tsp tamarind pulp or Lime juice
1 tsp Garam masala
2 large potatoes, thickly cut
2 tbsp Oil for frying the Potatoes
Heat oil in a large pan. Saute the khudi paste for 5 -7 minutes, till aromatic and slightly crisp. Stir in the bottle masala.
Add chicken and saute for a few minutes till the Chicken is coated really well in the masala and begins t o brown. Add 1- 2 cups of water and salt. Cook covered over low heat for 20 -30 minutes till the Chicken is cooked. Keep stirring to ensure that masala doesn’t stick.
Sprinkle Chicken with tamarind or lime juice and garam masala.
Shallow Fry the Potatoes till cooked. Add to the Chicken and cook for minutes. Turn off the heat and serve with Rice or Bread.