A CHICKEN AND TWO ONIONS
[A Simple recipe for the ultimate Mughlai dish]
An delicious excerpt from my mouthwatering Foodie Adventures Book APPETITE FOR A STROLL http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm
If you want a first impression of the authenticity of a “Mughlai” Restaurant, the first dish you must order and taste is a “Do Piaza” and it will give you an idea of the standard and authenticity of Mughlai Cuisine you can expect there.
Indeed the “Do Piaza” may be considered the culinary benchmark to judge and evaluate a Mughlai Restaurant.
And if Do Piaza [Mutton or Chicken] doesn’t figure on the menu, you better order Chinese or Continental, or stick to the ubiquitous "Punjabi" Butter Chicken-Naan routine!
“Do Piaza” means “two onions” or rather “double onions”.
Now how did this dish get its name?
Maybe it’s apocryphal, but legend has it that this delicious dish was invented by Mullah Do-Piaza, a renowned and celebrated cook at the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. One of the Navaratnas (nine jewels), it is said he could conjure up culinary delights using only two onions, and a Mughlai dish cooked in that particular style is called a “Do Piaza”.
Water is not used at all when cooking a Do Piaza.
Onions (Piaz or Pyaaz) are used twice – hence the name “Do” [“Two”] Piaza, or Pyaaza, spell it whichever way you like.
Come Dear Reader and fellow Foodie; let’s together cook a Chicken Do Piaza. It takes time, but it’s easy.
THE FIRST PIAZA
First cut a generous number of onions (the more the onions the sweeter the gravy) into rings, yes separate onion rings.
Now, in a large cooking vessel, put in the chicken pieces, add a liberal amount of curds and mix well. Copiously layer the chicken-curd mixture with the onion rings, cover with a tight lid and set aside to marinate for at least an hour.
Remember, do not vigorously mix in the onion rings; just liberally layer the chicken-curd mélange with the onion rings.
After marinating the chicken-curd-onion ring mixture for an hour or more, place the vessel on a slow fire with the lid on, and let the chicken cook slowly in its own juices and those released by the onion rings, till the onion rings are reduced to a pulp and, finally, the liquid almost dries up.
This is the first “Piaza”!
THE SECOND PIAZA
In another pan, pour in and heat pure ghee and fry sliced onions (the “second” piaza) till crisp brown, add finely chopped ginger and garlic, bay leaf, slit green chillies, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and then an adequate amount of chopped tomatoes, stir and fry on slow fire, and when the ghee separates, add the chicken [cooked in curds and onion rings] from the first pot, and stir fry till well browned and the gravy becomes nice and thick.
I don’t like to add garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder, or any other spice powders; but if you like it, go ahead.
I always find it best to taste the gravy and add the minimal amount of salt as necessary almost at the end of the cooking process.
Remember, do not add water at any stage or you will ruin the dish.
A “Do Piaza” cooks in its own juices – during both the first and second “piazas”.
EATING THE “DO PIAZA”
Place in a serving dish, squeeze a lemon, garnish with fresh green chopped coriander and your Chicken Do Piaza is ready to eat.
But first let’s “visually” savour the Do Piaza in our mind’s eye.
It looks appetizing – nicely browned generous pieces of succulent mutton, in translucent juicy onion rings in scrumptious gravy.
It smells good too – heavenly mouth-watering aroma wafts towards you making you smack your lips and salivate in anticipation of the gastronomic treat that awaits you.
It tastes marvellous – absolutely delicious, not spicy hot, but mild and flavoursome, the unique sweetish zest of onions is discernible and as the heavenly medley of flavours and fragrances synergizes inside you, and you feel a sense of supreme satisfaction.
Relish the Chicken Do Piaza with hot chappties, phulkas or even a piece of soft fluffy pav, and you will experience sheer bliss.
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Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.