Happiness is hot soup…errr…hot stew on a cold winter day. Or lets put it this way, happiness is large bowl of this chunky chicken stew with vegetables. Warm bowl of chunky stew, piping hot with steams slowly rising out of it, dollops of chilled butter floating atop and the house is beautifully warmed up too with heat still emanating from the earthen hearth, beautiful fragrances of warm aromatic spices that engulfed the house in its warmth. My prehistoric life in a nondescript hill of India and I can easily exchange that life with my urban living in metropolis at a given day, provided I had the chances to live there again.
Winter is beyond beautiful in hills. As if the hills are waited the whole year to get dressed up for the season. The early morning mists, the colorful kaleidoscope of leaves and flowers, the tall eucalyptus and pine trees that looks almost ghostly and the warm afternoon sunshine that melts away all the frozen dreams. In the evening we would all sit together around the hearth, cozily covered up till nose in woolen blankets, waiting patiently for my mom’s hearty chicken stew that was slowly simmering on the fire for hours on end, in a large kadhai that can easily accommodate the country fowl (that used to be our special Sunday chicken curry) and all the local seasonal vegetables. The stew would then served in a large porcelain bowl With a dollop of homemade chilled butter floating atop, with fire burned thick rotis that can easily soaked up all the juices. Life could not be better than that.
Here in plains where winters are almost non-existent (at least to me), year around a temperate climate surround the city, the simple joy of winter luxuries (that kind of thick roti and hearty chicken stew) are lost somewhere. Even though when I tries hard to replicate my mom’s chicken stew, it always taste and looks paler than her version. That aura is largely missing and at times I terribly missed my previous life.
This chicken stew cooked with poultry chicken cannot match the flavors we used to have with country fowl, yet it is lightly refreshing, hearty and nourishing to the core. With enough vegetables in it, this is one wholesome meal.The choice of vegetables are largely confined to your local produce, but made sure to use only the local winter produce. Like orange carrots, winter special new potatoes, green beans and country tomatoes are must. Other than this you can also add cauliflowers, beet root (that will turn the color of the stew ravishing red) and young shoots and leaves of spinach for garnish.
As usual with all my stew recipes, I prefer using whole spices than the ground spices which helps to retain the original taste of ingredients intact to some extent, except it infuses the stew with nice aromas. I can not emphasize more how turmeric, the great immunity booster, is an integral part of this chicken stew. My mom used to add raw turmeric pieces grind to a smooth paste in a mortar-pestle. Turmeric is that magical herb and the perfect concoction for the unforgiving winters. So do not skip that. This hearty winter chicken stew goes perfectly well with thick rotis or over a bed of plain steamed rice.
- Chicken cut into small sizes : 500 gm
- Onion : 1 big chopped
- Carrot : 1 sliced into roundels
- Potato : 1 cut into chunks
- Green beans : cut into 2 inch long ½ cup
- Green peas : ¼ cup
- Red capsicum : 1 cut into chunks (optional)
- Tomatoes : 1 ripe cut into chunks
- Yogurt : 3 tbsp
- Garlic cloves : 10
- Ginger : 1 tbsp minced
- Bay leaves : 2
- Cinnamon :1 ; Cloves : 4-5 ; Cardamom (green): 5-6 ; Black Pepper : 8-10
- Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder : 1 tsp +
- Cumin powder : 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Sugar : 1 tsp
- Oil : 2 tbsp
- Butter : 2 tbsp
- Cilantro for garnishes
- Chicken stock : 4 cups
- Wash and clean the chicken thoroughly. Rub salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, yogurt and let it stand for 30 minute.
- In a deep bottom pan or stew pot, heat the oil, fry the chopped onions and garlic till the onion becomes translucent.
- Add all the vegetables, saute till they absorb light brown hue.
- Add the chicken pieces together with the marinade.
- Add all the spices and ginger.
- Mix well and keep braising till the rawness of the chicken disappear and it turned slightly brown.
- Add 4 cups water or chicken stock. Check for salt.
- Close the lid and let it cook on low heat till done.
- Once the vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked through, stir in the butter and sugar.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and serve hot over a bed of rice or with roti or flat breads or any crusty breads.
Have lovely winter days