What do you do when the cook is on sick leave? Head to the kitchen and brush up the rusting culinary skills. Experiment to your heart’s will and then devour the catastrophe 🙂 .
Of the many things that I miss in Bangalore, Gondharaj Lebu is one of them. But luckily we have managed to hand pick a few last week and have been making our lunches extra fragrant and tangy. So while peeling onions and garlic for Sunday’s chicken curry, Gondhoraj Chicken seemed a flavourful option.
Gondhoraj lebu (lime) is native to eastern India especially West Bengal and once upon a time used to grow in abundance in every household in Bengal that had a garden. As children, we remember plucking Gondhoraj lebu from our grand mother’s garden in Dugapur, just before lunch and slicing it in half to release the divine aroma. It used to have very little juice, but the aroma was so fresh and lemony that it could be detected from far away and of course, made up for the meager quantity of the juice. I remember the best combination with Gondhoraj lebu was with masoor daal tempered with garlic and onion seeds. But I’m sure, Gondhoraj chicken would be equally satiating.
Reading through the recipes on the food blogs, I created a roadmap to follow. But as I started cooking, I deviated and digressed to a recipe that is different and suited to our taste. While the suggested recipes used onion juice, I replaced it with onion slices to get a thicker gravy. Also, adding the lemon from the beginning leads to loss of the fragrance and imparts a bitter taste. So, add the gondhoraj lebu at the end.
- Take a nonreactive bowl, add chicken pieces to it. Now add half of the yogurt, lime juices and salt to the chicken. Mix it well and let it rest for about an hour.
- Take a big pan, add the remaining oil and heat it up. Add cardamoms and wait until nice smell comes up.
- Fry the onion slices till it turns translucent. Add the onion paste, ginger garlic paste and fry till it turns brown and releases oil by stirring frequently
- Take the chicken pieces from the marinade and add to the pan. Fry them on medium high heat till the chicken pi.eces start to get light brown. The chicken would release a lot of water. Allow the water to dry and till it turns light brown
- Now add the marinade along with the remaining yogurt to the pan. Stir to mix it well. Add the lime leaves. Cover the pan and let it cook on medium high heat until chicken is cooked.
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy as per your preference.
- Check the seasoning, add more salt, sugar and turmeric as needed. I added a nail tip pinch of turmeric to get a yellowish hue.
- Add the green chilies, lime zest and slices. Give some stirs and turn off the gas.
- Serve hot with plain rice or roti.