Married Mondays and The Case of The Ugly Curry

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Habibi decided to cook this weekend so settle in for another session of me getting scolded, laughed at, chased from the kitchen and fed respectively.  #dontyoudarelaugh
 I had bought a cookbook by Zarine Khan recently, she of Bollywood fame- having married, birthed and married a daughter to movie stars. Since I went through all the trouble of sitting on the couch, spending Habibi’s hard earned money and ordering the book on Amazon, I got to pick the menu. (I lie. Let me rephrase. I swatted away Habibi’s hands from touching the cookbook, ran into the bathroom with it…and then I picked the menu away from his prying eyes #peeingonmyterritory #dontworry #didntreallypeeonthebook)




I decided we were going to make Chicken Masala Kashmiri. Sounds good right? The recipe didn’t look too stressful (for me. Remember this debacle?) so I figured we could have a nice low key cook and chill session to start the weekend off. I couldn’t find a picture in the book of the curry but I didn’t stress – notice the key word being thrown around? No stress.




I skipped out of the bathroom and showed Habibi the recipe, who looked at it and nodded his head.


'This? You want to make this? It's so easy.' 
'I know. Let's just keep it easy- peasy lemon squeezy today.' 
'What? Lemon? There isn't any lemon in this recipe. Why are you saying lemon? We don't have any lemons in the house anyway. Now I have to go buy some lemons.' 
Oh boy. 
I quickly explained that it was just an expression that we used to use in America and diverted the topic back to cooking. I gathered the raw material and utensils while Habibi started prepping the ingredients.
 Literally 60 seconds into the cook :

Hurdle 1:  our chicken is already cut 

'Baby, our chicken is already cut,' calls Habibi from near the sink.
 'Oh good. Then we don't have to cut it.' My head is in the refrigerator looking for coriander. 
'It says whole chicken in the recipe though...'
'So?' 
'Well, won't that make a difference? There must be a reason she keeps it whole right?' 

Ummm. 

I stomped over to the recipe, hoping to find the answer and rub it in Habibi's face. He's right. All it says is 1 whole chicken, as you can see in the recipe. I snuck a peak over my shoulder to look at Habibi, hoping to tip toe out of the kitchen. No luck, he's standing there smirking at me. 

I haughtily tell him to just use the chicken pieces as is and that we would just have to make sure the chicken doesn't over cook or dry out later. 

3 minutes later.

Hurdle 2: The stupid chilli water 

The very first step of the recipe says to :

' Boil the chillies. Keep discarding the water and adding fresh water till the water is rich red and the chillies are soft.' 

Question no 1 - How much of the water? All of it? Or half of it? Neither of us believed she could have possibly meant all the water, but I wanted to follow the recipe exactly and discard all the water while  Habibi wanted to take out 1/4. 
Answer- we bickered  for 5 minutes before compromising at taking out half the water. 

Question no 2 - What is rich red? Does she mean dark red? wine red? bright red? blood red? 
Answer - We googled the term 'rich red.' Seriously. 
    
Not that it helped. 


Question no 3: How soft is soft? 
Answer: 'when I say so' comes out of my mouth before I can help it. 

At this point I'm annoyed at Mrs. Khan, myself and Habibi. No Stress Saturday is not going so well. 

I spoke too soon though because a half an hour goes by peacefully until.. 

Hurdle no 3: why is our curry so ugly? 

Steps 6-8 confused the shit out of me. First of all, the concoction in the pan did not look appetizing at all and secondly our ghee refused to rise. It took another conference to decide when to pour the chili water in.  #risegheerise

'Baby what should the curry look like?'
Habibi is standing over the stove with his hands on his hips, leaning over and looking nervously into the cooking pot while  I'm sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen counter keeping the wine  company. I've had a little liquid fortification so  I volunteer to find out. 




Yeh our curry looked nothing like that.  #fail #palecurryshame

Long story short (this is where I got chased out of the kitchen for suggesting that our curry was ugly because we hadn't achieved 'rich red' chili water) we ended up shredding the chicken in the gravy and keeping it a little loose. 

As non appetizing as it looked( no wonder there was no photo in the book - AHA!) the curry was surprisingly good. Like really good. It was different from the regular spicy chicken curries, it packed a punch of flavor with every bite and was refreshingly unique.  


I definitely recommend trying the recipe, but with a caveat. Maybe have someone with a little more experience i.e. someone who has been cooking for longer than a minute on standby. Mrs.Khan clearly wrote this book for people who know their whole chickens from cut pieces and rich red from poor red.




~Rumi 


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