My grandmother Celine D’Souza was quite a feisty woman. She raised eight children, along with grandfather who was with the Indian navy (Lt Cdr Mark D’Souza, VSM, Indian Navy), and was practically a single mother when my grandfather was serving the country. A disciplinarian matching my grandfather’s standards, she single-handedly managed housework, paddy fields, cooked for her children, looked after cattle and poultry, took care of her aging mother-in-law and was a pillar of strength for her husband.
came to know her a little bit more after she passed away – about her resilience, the love she showered on all her children and us grandchildren, the delicious food she cooked and the values she stood for.
The chicken curry I am writing about, reminds me of the several times my grandmother and I have sat across the dining table in my mother’s home in Mulki, Mangalore, and shared a laugh over sumptuous food she prepared, and the times she advised me about life and love.
Celine D’Souza died at a ripe old age of 81, and this recipe is named after her because she conjured it up herself and has been passed to me by her daughter and my mother.
1 kilo chicken (with bones cut into medium sized pieces)
1-2 medium sized potatoes
2 tbsp ghee
½ a medium sized onion (finely cut) or 1 small onion
250 ml water
For the paste
8-10 madras chillies (red)
1 ½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp whole pepper corns
3 medium sized onions (coarsely cut)
10 gms tamarind
Grind all the above to a fine paste by adding water to the blender at regular intervals.
- Add ghee to a deep vessel. Add the medium-sized onion, which is finely chopped, and fry till golden brown.
- Add the ground paste without water, and fry it for about seven minutes on a low flame.
- Add water to make the gravy moderately thin.
- Add chicken to this with salt to taste
- When the chicken is nearly cooked, add potatoes if the gravy is too spicy to taste. The potatoes reduce the spiciness.
- Allow the gravy to boil till chicken and potatoes are fully cooked.
- Serve with dosas, idlis or neer dosas. Red boiled rice is also a good accompaniment to this fiery curry.