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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Good Old ‘Homely’ Bengali Murgir Mangsher Jhol and the By-gone Sunday Afternoons

Sunday afternoon! Lunch time! Say..., two o’ clock! Ya, ya! You are right! It was a bit late for lunch. From Monday to Saturday we used to have some dal-tarkari-machh-bhat (lentil soup – vegetable curry- fish-rice) at ten o’ clock in the morning, drag the bi-cycle down along the stairs and rush to school. Sunday was the day for chicken curry or mutton. Murgir mangsher jhol cannot have an exact translation. It means a type of chicken curry. Murgi = chicken, mangsho = meat, jhol = gravy, soup.
Though hard-core non-vegetarian, Bengalis love fish more than anything else. So, meat is much less frequent in a Bengali kitchen. Sometimes I feel that the trend is changing since some lazybones among us are reluctant to take the pain of sorting out the fish bones from the flesh. Oh, look at me!
I have made a fish-talk such a big part of my introduction to chicken curry, murgir mangsher jhol! Such a fishy Bengali I am!
Back to murgir mangsher jhol, we used to buy chicken from local firms, and not broilers. I used to accompany my father to the shops where he used to choose a rooster usually and the shop keeper used to kill it in front of us. I used to be on the verge of crying every time but later, as soon as the fragrance of the curry tickled my nose, I used to forget the sadness of the poor hen’s self-sacrifice for us. The shop-keeper used to clean it and then hand it over to us, without cutting it into pieces which my mom used do. The drumsticks, “murgir thang”, were the most desired and prestigious pieces. One of the two used to be reserved for my father. The left one my little sister and I used to have in turn. I never saw my mom having a drumstick.
I do not usually buy the whole chicken or even those drumsticks any more. We have been educated long back that the breast is the healthiest part of a chicken. Sundays have become much busier. Murgir mangsher jhol is my quick dinner nowadays.
And this is how I did it last Tuesday.

Chicken – 300 gm
Potato – if available, use 3 / 4 baby potatoes,

Onion – 100 gm
Green chille – 1 (can add more, according to your taste)
Shredded ginger – a pinch
Ginger powder
Tomato – one medium
Green chilly – one big

Marinade the meat in salt, turmeric podwer, ginger powder.
How long?
As long as you take to do the followings:
1) Peel the potatoes
2) Chop a green chilly
3) Chop onion
4) Shred a very small piece of ginger
5) Grate tomato
6) Pour oil into the pan.
7) Fry the potatoes.
8) When they turn golden, add chopped green chilly, chopped onion.
Now get back to your chicken.

9) When the onion turns golden, add the chicken.
10) Stir well. Let it fry. Stir from time to time. Keep the flame medium.(kasao)
11) Add the tomato. Stir to mix it well. (kasao)
12) Add water.
13) Let it cook till the chicken is completely cooked
14) Serve with roti and rice.

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