Chicken Dak Bungalow

Satyajit Ray’s movie “Aranyer Dinratri” probably introduced me to what is known as “Dak Bunglow”.The story of four friends making an unplanned escape from their complex city lives into to the serenity of jungles. The “Dak Bunglow” with barely any amenities that they took shelter in by bribing the caretaker, beckons me for its simplicity, austerity and no frill humbleness.

“Daak” meant mail and during the British rule, it was the common name for the Imperial mail services. Likewise these Daak bungalows served as resting house for Officials, who often had to travel through the remotest areas through the mail route for work. These were mostly created in areas where no other form of shelters were available. The Bungalows were sprawled over huge piece of land often with spectacular views of the nature and had a caretaker cum cook. After the British left, these Dak Bungalows were converted to Government offices or tourist lodges. Dak Bungalows located in the remotest locations served as an unwinding place close to nature, away from the hectic urban life.

One of such tradition of food was the Dak bungalow cuisines.The culinary skill of the chowkidaar or caretaker were sparse and so were his kitchen tools. Markets being far away and dearth of exotic ingredients left the caretaker with limited options. Home grown poultry and goat cooked with simple ingredients was served to the Babus. This easy to make style of cooking  later came to be known as Dak Bungalow food.
Chicken Dak Bungalow is a no frill simple chicken recipe, very similar to a Bengali Sunday Murgi-r jhol. Just that it is devoid of the watery soup (jhol) and is somewhere between a “Chicken Kosha” and “Murgi-r jhol”.
 
What you need:
  • Chicken- 1 kg
  • Boiled eggs- 3
  • Potatoes- 2
  • Onions- 3 finely chopped
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch long stick
  • Cloves- 5
  • Green cardamom- 3
  • Bay leaf- 2
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
  • Curd- 5 tbsp
  • Salt- to taste
  • Ginger garlic paste- 3 tsp
  • Green Chili – 2/3
  • Mustard oil- 6 tbsp
How to make:
  • Marinate the boiled egg and potatoes in turmeric powder and salt. Shallow fry them in 2 tbsp oil till golden brown from all sides. Keep aside
  • Meanwhile fry one onion till brown  and keep aside.
  • Marinate the chicken with curd for 30 mins
  • Heat mustard oil in a pan
  • Add cumin seeds and all the whole spices cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves) and saute them for a minute or two.
  • Add chopped onion and saute till the onion is translucent. Now add the chicken along with the curd, spice powders and cook for 10-15 minutes with occasional stirring. Cover with a lid. Let chicken cook au jus (in its own juice).
  • When the water evapourated and oil separates, add a little water for the chicken to become tender
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the fried boiled eggs and potatoes and simmer the curry for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with slit green chilies. Serve with rotis or steamed rice.

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