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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hidden Secrets of TV Cooking; How Practical are TV recipes?

Would you say your recipes turn out exactly the same as they are on TV? Two years ago, I had gone to visit a friend during the shoot of a Television cookery show. I was surprised to see that the producers had ordered dishes from a restaurant for the final presentation. Recipes that were being prepared on the show did not always looked perfect and so they would cheat a little. I was very disappointed. Some of our Television hosts are experts with immense knowledge about food and how it should be prepared. Then there are those who are great hosts but may or may not be trained chefs. I wanted to find out whether or not my favourite lifestyle channel recipes are practical and feasible.

So, I watched a show and noted down the recipe with the exact proportions from the official channel website. I prepared the almond based chicken as per the TV recipe.  There was a little problem. Many of the cookery show producers assume that their viewers know the basics. The recipe was feasible but I realised that the proportions given on the channel website were vague. For example, the recipe called for one ginger. It is hard to assume whether that is one 4 inch piece of ginger or a 2 inch piece of ginger. Similarly, it said grated nutmeg but the quantity was not mentioned. How to prevent the yogurt from curdling? The cooking time and how do you test whether the chicken is cooked was not specified. So, using my favourite lifestyle channel as a guide to cooking involves a lot of guess work, especially for an amateur chef. The recipe was gorgeous, with a little more detail, it will turn out perfect.

Badami Murgi (Chicken in Almond Gravy)- Serves 4

Chicken Joints, halved (murgi) 6 pieces
Salt (namak)to taste
Yogurt (Dahi)1 cup
Red Chilli Flakes(Kutti Lal Mirch) ½ teaspoon
Garlic (Lehsun), 4 cloves, minced
Ginger(Adrak), 1 inch, minced
Unsalted, clarified Butter (Ghee) 2 +1 tablespoon
Onion(Pyaz), large 1, minced
Cinnamon (Dal Chini)½ inch piece
Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 1 teaspoon
Black cardamom (Badi Elaichi)2
Green Cardamom(Chhoti Elaichi) 4 + 4
Cloves(laung) 6
Nutmeg(jaiphal), grated ¼ teaspoon
Almond Paste (badam paste) Dip 20 almonds in boiling water, remove the skin and grind it into a fine paste
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi Lal Mirch) 2


Wash and cut the chicken joints into half.

In a mixing bowl, whisk yogurt, salt, red chilli flakes and two cloves of garlic, minced and half the minced ginger.

Add the chicken to the yogurt mixture. Allow it to stand till the other ingredients are prepared.

In a pan, dry roast cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves and nutmeg on medium heat. Till they turn a shade darker. Grind or crush them together into a coarse powder.

In a pan, heat two tablespoons of ghee. Add in the minced onion, stir and cook till it turns light pink. Do not brown.

Now, add in the remaining ginger and garlic mince, stir and allow it to cook for a minutes.
Add in the mixture of the roasted spices, stir.

Strain the chicken and keep aside. Whisk the flavoured yogurt. Lower the heat and add in the yogurt to the pan. Make sure the pan is not too hot.

Allow the curry to simmer, do not increase the heat, this could cause the yogurt to curdle. Stir and allow the yogurt to simmer for three to four minutes.

Now, add in the almond paste. Stir and allow the gravy to cook on low heat for ten minutes. The gravy should become thick and creamy.

Now, add in the chicken. Add the leg pieces first and allow it to cook on medium heat for five minutes.

Now, add in the chicken breast pieces, stir and cook for five minutes on medium heat.

To check if the leg pieces are cooked, see if the flesh begins to separate from the bone. If you break the chicken the pinkish flesh should have turned completely white from the inside.

Turn off the heat. The chicken will release its own juices in the thick gravy, making the consistency right, so there is no need to add in extra water.

The chicken will cook a little more even after you turn off the heat.

Take a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee once the ghee is hot then add in the dried red chilli and green cardamom pods. When they turn a shade darker, add them on top of the chicken curry for garnish and flavour.

Note: You can add dried apricots when the gravy is cooking to add in a sweetish tinge.
You can strain the gravy for presentation, however, this will thin down your gravy.