Kolhapuri Chicken Curry (Kombadicha Tamda Rassa)

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Kolhapuri Cuisine is incomplete without the mention of Kombadicha/Mutnacha Tamda Rassa from the state’s southern city of Kolhapur which pairs well with Tandalachi Bhakri. Their curries (Rassa) are bold & spicy, vibrant & robust, highly aromatic, rich & flavorful.  It truly lives up to the rich culture & ancient history of this wonderful town.

Kolhapur is proud of  some wonderful spice mixes & the people of this town still do make their own spice mixes the age old way by roasting on a tawa & powdering their masalas using the mortar & pestle which is called  ‘Khalbatta’ in Marathi. Each household has their secret traditional recipe for their unique spice mix & so you can have many variations.

Even though the masalas & curries are well known to be fiery & powerful… where the city’s Lavangi Mirchi has been a part of culinary lore for centuries… you can still enjoy & relish Kolhapuri food by adjusting them to suit your palate. You can attribute the fame of Lavangi chillies to the lyrics in popular Maharashtrian folk songs. The Lavangi is small in size, bright red & very spicy. Poets often compare it to an attractive woman & hence the famous phrase… “Kolhapurchi Lavangi tikhat mirchi.”

The basic ingredient in any Kolhapuri cuisine is the kanda-lasun (onion-garlic) masala /chutney. This spice mix requires the most important ingredient… the Lavangi chilli powder which is mixed with finely chopped onion, garlic, coriander, ginger & salt; roasted in oil. All the ingredients are then ground together & this powder is used to cook various Kolhapuri dishes. It can be stored for about 6 months.

Goda Masala/Kala Masala is another spice powder which is used extensively in Maharashtrian cuisine. This is a combination of whole spices which is again roasted in oil & then powdered & used in cooking. These two spice mixes give Kolhapuri food its signature red hot color without making it too pungent. To reduce the fiery gun powder & retain & maintain the taste to suit your palate you can always replace the Lavangi with chilli powder which you are comfortable with.
Whenever you think about authentic & traditional Kolhapuri cuisine, you remember it as a hot & fiery bomb… not meant for the faint hearted! But you can definitely re-create it in your own kitchen with your personal touch. The aroma of this sensational Rassa will fill your home & you will want to cook it ever so often!  The flavor of this curry matures with time…  It is better to let it sit over night to enjoy the strong flavors better. So just go ahead & give it a try… J
Ingredients :
1 kg. Chicken with bone (cut into pieces)
100ml. Refined Vegetable Oil
2 Bay Leaves
2 Star Anise
2 Black Cardamom
1 med. Onion (peeled & finely chopped)
1 fresh Red Tomato (finely chopped)
½ tsp. Turmeric pwd.
2 tbsp. fresh Ginger-Garlic & fresh Coriander Leaves (paste)
150 gms. Maharashtrian Kanda-Lasun Masala/ Chutney
4 glasses Chicken Stock
100 gms. each fresh & dry coconut
1 tbsp. Garam Masala pwd.
1 tbsp. Maharashtrian Goda Masala
1 ½ tbsp. Salt or to taste

Garnishing :

Handful Fresh Coriander Leaves (chopped)
Procedure:

First wash the chicken pieces & then boil it with a teaspoon of oil & some salt in a sufficiently deep & wide vessel. The chicken should be cooked but firm. Do not over boil.

Strain the chicken stock & separate the boiled chicken pieces.

 The chicken stock should measure up to 4 glasses of stock. Reserve the stock & the chicken to be used later in the curry.

Heat oil in deep vessel till hot.  Add bay leaves, star anise & black cardamom.

Then add in the onions & fry till golden brown.

Add tomatoes & turmeric pwd. & sauté well.

Next add the ginger-garlic-coriander paste & sauté once again.

Add the kanda-lasun masala chutney which instantly changes the contents in the pan to a rich maroon color. Saute till you see specks of oil.

Add one glass of reserved fresh chicken stock to dilute the masala. Let it cook & come to a boil.

Grind one onion with the fresh & dry coconut to a nice thick, smooth paste. Add it to the bubbling hot masala.

Now the gravy will turn from a deep red to a mellow orange-yellow.

After a few stirs, add garam masala, goda masala & let it simmer without the lid.

Add the chicken stock occasionally to maintain the consistency of the curry. It should neither be too runny nor too thick.

Add the reserved cooked chicken pieces. Let it simmer for another 10 mins.

Garnish with fresh coriander, wedges of lime & sliced raw onions.

Serve piping hot with Tandalachi /Jowar/Bajra Bhakri or with steamed rice.

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