Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Desi Chicken & Rice

What's in a name? "Desi" to the uninitiated, is a colloquial term Indians have for other Indians. I believe it loosely translates to "countrymen." Thereabouts.

"Chicken and rice." Yes. Not biryani. Not pulao (though I guess this COULD be construed, very loosely, as a quick and dirty pulao), though that's subjective.

Yesterday was the south Indian holiday Pongal. It's the harvest holiday. Traditionally you serve, you guessed it, PONGAL. I was tight on time and didn't have time to make accompaniments to go with the pongal. And really, it's just the two of us, and he's a low key man, and not very demanding. Iffin' when he says "please make this or that" for a holiday, I'll oblige. And he seemed a bit ambivalent about me making pongal (it's truly one of the easiest dishes to make in the south Indian pantheon* of rice dishes), so I held off.


He was running late for dinner and insisted I go home, as he'd take a cab home. I came home and set about making dinner. I knew I needed to use up some chicken I cooked off a few days ago (which he hadn't eaten because his stomach has been "off" again). Waste not, want not is my motto.

So I had this leftover chicken (2-3 pcs which were marinated in a tamarind curry and baked off; and 2 pieces which were tandoori spiced and baked off), and I had a partially full container of Swanson's Mexcian Tortilla infused chicken broth, and a new bag of jasmine rice (we use this instead of ponni rice for dishes like pongal).

So this is what I MacGuyvered together (MacGuyvered, of course, IN the Nesco).

It started out looking, very-much, like pongal:

I put the Nesco on the browning setting and put some neutral oil in, and sizzled up some cumin seed and a bit of split moong dal. A few dashes of asafatoeida/hing, and then four measures of the Swanson's broth, followed by 2 measures of jasmine rice.

I then added perhaps 1/4 package of frozen peas and carrots, then layered the cooked chicken pieces on top. I closed up the Nesco, and set it to 9 minutes on high pressure. And I left it with the lid on, and let it depressurize on its own, and hoped for the best. I left the lid on and left it on the warmer setting until he got home roughly 40 minutes later.

When he arrived home, I quickly plated up some chicken and rice, and added some of those French's TYPE fried onions (I use Trader Joes' brand, but you know the fried onions I'm talking about), and a dusting of a ready made, store-bought "podi" (as we call it in our household), aka Simply Asia Sweet Ginger Garlic Seasoning.

My first impulse always is to gild the lily with more more more. Perhaps some cashews or cilantro, or a fistful of sultanas or something. But this dish? I kept it simple. It wasn't supposed to be a super special dish. But something substantial and gut filling.

And turns out? It was utterly delicious. (Or so he says!)

Waiting to hear back from the husband to see if he deems last night's dindin to be "Kozhi pongal" or if that's just too blasphemous for words:)

Also noteworthy: Despite the broth being chicken based, I *do* want to MacGuyver a small batch of rasam with what little bit I have left. I think the flavor profile will lend itself very well to it.

To date: I've tried both, the Thai Ginger and the Mexican Tortilla infused broths by Swanson. If I can find the hot and sour variety, I'll be very happy. So far, I've been very happy with this particular pantry item. Packs a whole lotta flavor in a shelf stable package.  

*Note: IMHO, or for my purposes I define the Pantheon of South Indian rice based dishes as INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
"Baths" (sambar rice, yogurt rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice, etc)
Biryani (note: I am not including pulao, as it's not typically a South Indian dish)
Pongal (note: technically, Pongal is a type of kichidee/kicheree)
Payasam (note: not all payasam are rice based)

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