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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Club-style Chicken Sandwiches

I've always wondered why one gets ravenous after swimming...

Notice I use the word “ravenous” because “hungry” simply does not do justice to the thunderous rumbling in my belly that materializes mere seconds after I’ve rid myself of those final chlorine-filled droplets…

Now, I’m sure there’s some very insightful scientific explanation that'll provide a very satisfactory end to my musings. One that involves hormones and muscle groups and metabolism. And I’m sure it is very educational indeed.

But if I were a betting person, I'd bet that you’re really not that interested. Which is very cool, because I’m not either!

More pressingly then: Food for the Famished!

But first, just to be clear…I haven’t actually been swimming. As in, I’ve been in the pool. But I haven’t been flailing my arms and kicking my legs (i.e. getting any sort of exercise.)

Oh no.

Instead, I’ve just returned from having taken Ranbir swimming. Which means, basically that I walk around the kiddie pool on my knees for about 45 minutes, holding the little boy’s hands while he kicks his fat little legs all over the place and sings “One Two Three Four Five, Once I Caught A Fish Alive” – which for some reason he believes to be rather fitting a song to be sung in the pool.

(Don't ask!)

But, I must admit, I’ve quite grown to love these little swimming sessions with Ranbir. See, he won’t hold still any other time; this is one of those rare occasions where there’s no escape, there’s no wriggling away, there’s nowhere to run and there’s nowhere to hide. So I’ve got him, all of him, just to myself.  It’s lovely.

And as I stop to think about it, I’ve always loved swimming really. Right from my giddy, girlie school years. For reasons that are completely different, and yet – at the core – exactly the same. Because even then – in a different time, in different circumstances, in a different city, country, continent – it was time away from everything else…snatched moments of serenity in a world that won't stop moving.

We’d go swimming together straight after school, twice or thrice a week, me and my friend Fazila, and sometimes, her sisters Asna and Sheza and whoever else cared to join us. We’d generally use the pool at the Club – it was close, convenient and usually empty, most people scared off by the strong afternoon sun. But not us! We loved it. We’d jump into the cool, aquamarine waters, under the shadow of the palm trees and we’d stay there for hours. It was our own little oasis.

It was pretty serious swimming, mind you, we’d do laps, fifteen, twenty of them at a stretch; forty, fifty of them in total. We’d take breaks every now and then, surfacing for air and gossip, congregating on the deep end – clutching the side of the pool with both hands, legs hanging loose into the water – and talk about this and that. 

It is a memory as delicious as warm honey on a bun.
And I will savour it forever.

And this wasn't even the best part.
Because after we were done, our muscles tired but rejuvenated and happy, we’d shower and change, and sit by the poolside, under a colourful umbrella, the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. And order Chicken Sandwiches and Chips (as in crisps, not fries). And devour them.

This was the best part. 
It was a ritual. It made us friends for life.

Swimming and Chicken Sandwiches.
They just go together.
It’s written

And now, just like then, the ritual must be respected.

And so I’m making Chicken Sandwiches – Bangalore Club, poolside style.
For Faz
And for me
And for our poolside friendship

For Ranbir
And for Zayna
And for hoping they meet soon.

For preserving old memories.
And making new ones.

Here’s what you need:

-       200g chicken
-       1 tbsp prepared mayonnaise
-       1 tbsp Dijon mustard
-       Salt and pepper to taste
-       Butter – as much or as little as you can muster!

Here’s how you do it:

Marinate the chicken in some lime juice and some finely diced onion and garlic for about 30 minutes.

When you’re ready, heat two teaspoonfuls of oil in a pan and toss in the chicken, cooking over a medium flame until it turns golden. Now add two cups of water and cover, leaving it to simmer until the chicken starts to come apart. Set aside and when cool, shred it completely with your fingers. Mix in some salt, pepper and butter. 

Separately, mix together the equal parts of mayonnaise and mustard – by the way, this is an absolutely divine mix if you haven’t had it before. Try it with French Fries sometime. With some ketchup on the side. And then try and forgive me for suggesting it.

Anyway, at this point, iIf you want to throw in some grated cheese – go ahead and do it! I just didn't have any in the house at the moment.

Stir is all up till its nice and smooth. Now add in the shredded chicken and toss well.

Take one slice of white bread and butter it. Slather on some of chicken mix. Cover it with another slice of buttered bread.

Now, take this baby and put it on the grill (I have a handy-dandy toastie maker that works beautifully as well)

Serve with some old-fashioned kettle chips. And a bottle of ketchup. And paper napkins made with horrific-quality paper. Ta-da! You have yourself some Club-Style Chicken Sandwiches!
...And now you know the real reason why I have always loved swimming!

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