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Monday, 9 May 2011

Uday Park Chicken

I am so excited that Arjun and Radhika are moving back to London. Arjun is Sid's first cousin and Radhika is his wife, which I suppose, would make her my cousin-sister-in-law?! Anyway, so they were here briefly at around the same time I moved to London from the US (for love).  And with all the excitement of new job, new city, new life, new love (but then, that one never gets old)...sadly we didn't get to hang out nearly enough before they returned to India. Well - I'm REALLY excited you guys are headed back because one of the times we did  hang out was when you were kind enough to invite us to dinner to your immaculately kept flat in St. John's Wood. And, that meal is high, high up in my list of memorable foodie encounters (Hint, hint.)

The night progressed somewhat like this:

"I don't know how to cook, hanh, I'm warning you guys, I'm very bad...Arjun cooks much better..." was her opening line. No hi, how are you, huggie, kissie etc. Straight to the point, a girl after my own heart.
Radhika looks, by the way, like the Kareena Kapoor of the Yuva days (this is a compliment), and her pretty face looked visibly worried.
Naturally, Sid and I dismissed her concerns with the obligatory "I'm sure it'll be great," coupled-with-polite-smile combo. But then, equally naturally, her statement made me utterly curious about what she, "Ms. I'm a very bad cook,"  had cooked.

As Arjun, the bartender-cum-better-cook (allegedly), made us a (woah, strong) drink, Radhika started laying the table. If memory serves me right, I counted about 6 large dishes.
"Are you feeding all of St. John's Wood?" I asked her.
"No ya," our heroine replied, frowning with concern. "It's nothing. I really don't know how to cook, I hope its okay!"

Okay?? Haha. Talk about understatements.
You know, having married into a Punjabi family, I have learnt that there a few spheres of life where the Punjabis will never let you down. Ever.
1) The party-till-you-drop-absolute-and-unmatchable-fun at their weddings
2) The potency of their drinks
3) The taste of their food

As far as Arjun and Radhika are concerned, I was fortunate enough to vouch for #1 a few years ago, and now I was getting the opportunity to put #'s 2 and 3 to the test. And I, wholeheartedly, stick by my list! The less said about the potency of my drink, the better (Arjun, don't know about better cook, but you're a mighty good bartender). And, Kareena-of-the-Yuva-days, your food that night was brilliant!

It is one dish in particular that I am writing about, not only because it was soooo good, but also because as I was serving myself, it looked vaguely familiar. Which was odd, considering we had never tasted Radhika's cooking before.
But with the first scrumptious biteful, there it was - instant recognition, if there is such a thing.
I looked at her in surprise - "Is this Ammi's chicken?"
She smiled, looking relaxed for the first time that evening, "Have you had it before? Ya, it's Dadiji's"

Dadiji to her, Ammi to me - this recipe belongs to that wonderful woman who I wish was still around to read this. She was legendary, not only in her cooking, but as a person. Larger than life, full of energy, I am yet to meet someone with more Joie de vivre; she loved going out, she loved dressing up, she loved good food, and she loved us.

And so, this is for all the good times we had with you and because of you. With love.

Here's how you do it.

- 6 chicken breast fillets (roughly 800g)
- 6 onions
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp garam masala powder
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Butter

Marinate the chicken with W. sauce, ginger-garlic paste and garam masala for 4-5 hours or overnight. Saute onions until browned, add marinated chicken and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through. Now, the "naughty bit" (as Ammi would say) - add a little butter to a pan, add the pepper, the salt and the cooked chicken. Serve with rice or a side of french fries. Finger-licking delicious!

Ammi, I would have called this recipe "Ammi's chicken"
But it's more than that now. It is Radhika's, and now it is mine. 
And so I have named it for the place where I tasted this dish for the first time, the place you loved and called home.  This is "Uday Park Chicken"
And something tells me, you would prefer it this way.

4 comments:

  1. A wonderful description of a fantastic lady and HER love that touched all our lives !!

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  2. Thanks Renu Mami, she was one of a kind. And her cooking was amazing...I wish we had more time, there was so much to learn from her.

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  3. You totaly captured this Amrita!! In fact.....tomorrow i'm actually gonna make what shall forever be called 'Uday Park Chicken'!!!

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  4. Thank you Polly :) Can we come?

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