As a kid in school and youth in college we use to have lot of outings/picnic . One of the highlights of those numerous outings was food (Called Bana-Bhoji in Oriya). Food cooked mostly on makeshift firewood chulhas used to taste fabulous. It’s hard to get that kind of taste in food prepared at home on gas stove.
The difference in taste is attributed, by people who understand the topic, to the taste/flavour of wood which gets mixed with the food (may be even the mostly natural source of water too did some magic). In fact at my ancestral home in native town Puri there used to be fire wood based chulha till very recently. Of course now it has been dismantled and LPG oven oven has taken it’s place.
For obvious reasons in our modern apartment based lifestyle a firewood based chulah is not possible.
Last weekend my wife (who is a great cook ) along with our neighbour came up with this great idea where we could do something to simulate (too much influence of IT ?? Can’t think of a better english word) the taste of those firewood cooked food and decided to try the process on chicken butter masala curry. Here is how:
There are numerous sites on the net which describe how to make chicken butter masala. So, I would just stick to describing the ‘charcoal-twist’ part which gave us the great taste.
The way we made chicken butter masala involved frying the chicken pieces in oil after keeping it marinated in curd and masala for a fair bit of time. After the frying was done. Here is what we did:
Step 1. Place the fried chicken pieces in a container which can hold them in farly comfortable manner, still leaving little bit of space in the middle of container for keeping a small bowl like this:
Step 2. Take a few pieces of charcoal and burn it on gas stove for 3-4 minutes. In case your are wondering where to source the charcoal from, in a place like Bangalore, look below for few suggestions.
Step 3. Once the charcoal is heated properly, put them in the small bowl placed inside the container. Something like this:
Step 4. Take a spoon full of cooking oil and pour it over the, still hot, charcoal and cover the container immediately. Ensure that the smoke coming out of the charcoal is captured inside the container with the cover tightly placed. Wait for 3-4 minutes and remove the cover.
Step 5. That’s it. Now proceeed with what you would have normally done to cook the chicken. For instance we had few pieces just after this stage and made chicken butter masala out of the rest and named this recepie as Chicken butter masala with a charcoal twist
All I can tell you right now is, it tasted awsome !! Very different and tasty than the normal chicken recepie we make at home.
The best part is, this process can be done with so many other items like Fish, Mutton, Paneer (veggies, happy ??). In fact we tasted this process with paneer too and it tasted equally different and good.
Sourcing of charcoal: In the area I live in, I see lot of charcoal selling shops (at least 2-3). Or may be it so, that after watching this wonderfully informative video/documentary on terrapreta I was on the look out for charcoal myself for enriching my kitchen garden and hence noticed these shops which would have otherwise skipped my notice. Something makes me think that they are still present in most places in the city, just that we don’t notice because we don’t need them much.
One more source where you can get these 3-4 pieces of charcoal is your dress pressing shop. These guys normally used charcoal based press and you should able to get few pieces for a price (Or use your charm).
We Oriya’s have lot of recipes which are based on ‘cooking or slow burning’ vegetables in firewood based chulhas. For example we do that with brinjal,lady finger,potato,tomato etc…
Am thinking of making a DIY barbecue. Will update once it’s ready