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Climbing the Mango tree : Chicken Tahiri

(post, praj rem)

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I remember watching BBC Food shows as a kid. I still have my fresh memories about Madhur Jaffrey cooking in an open kitchen with lots of fresh herbs and meat. Madhur is renowned as an international authority on Indian food. As an actress, TV Presenter & writer she has many strings to her bow but it is her for her delicious cooking she’s best known.

I would love to share recipes that I read and tried reading her book. So let’s begin our journey with Madhur’s mouth watering recipes.

Tahiri, a dish that comes to us from the Muslim tradition of Delhi. It’s a pilaf made with matar (fresh peas). I came across this recipe while reading Madhur Jaffrey’s book “Climbing the Mango Trees”.  And surprisingly, I found that it’s one of the favorite dishes in Delhi especially with the Kayasthas (Mathurs) my new family.
Madhur evokes some memories of a golden childhood as she writes about family feasts, street food sellers.

Speaking about Tahiri, its one of the simplest dishes to cook. This dish is yellow in color indicating the dash of turmeric in it. For the veggie lovers you can make it with Green Peas. And for the ones like me, Chicken is the way to go!

I would recommend fresh peas for Tahiri but frozen peas are welcome too. So what do we need to make our Tahiri?

     2 cups Basmati Rice
     2 tablespoons of oil
     3 bay leaves
     2 whole black cardamom pods or green cardamom
     3 whole peppercorns
     ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
     1 medium onion, cut lengthwise in half and then cut into fine half –rings
     Salt to taste
     ½ teaspoon turmeric
     2 teaspoon garam masala
     3 green chillies
     1 cup frozen peas )5 ounces (For vegetarian Tahiri)
     ½  pound chicken

Wash rice in several changes of water. Drain and leave it for 30 minutes in water that covers the rice generously. Drain again and leave in a strainer set over a bowl.
Put the oil in a pan and set over medium heat. When it is hot, put the bay leaves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and cumin seeds. Stir once and then add onions. Fry until the onions turn reddish brown. Add the slit green chillies and stir for 2 mins.

Skip the next line if you don’t want to add chicken.
Add the Chicken pieces and fry well for 5 minutes. Add salt, garam masala & turmeric and stir well till chicken is half cooked. Then add the rice. Skip the next paragraph coz it’s for the veggies

For veggies: Just add the rice with some salt, garam masala and turmeric.
Meanwhile, wash the peas and cook them in separate water with some salt. Drain the peas and add them in the rice. Cover the pan and let the rice rest in for 10 minutes.

 Back to Chicken Recipe*
Turn the heat down to medium low. Stir the rice in very gently and fry it for 2 minutes without breaking any grains. Then add 2 2/3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and turn down the heat to very low. Cook for 20 minutes.

Tahiri for me is the simple soul food which we need in our meals. Try your Tahiri with some coriander chutney!