Proof that I watch TV…
But only if food is the hero.
We’d heard of this famous ATTA CHICKEN made by two Sardarjis in KOTKAPURA near Ludhiana, Punjab. On television, many, many food show hosts have tried their best to wrangle the secret recipe from the creators…but to no avail. Yes the technique they display, that is what lets the cat out of the bag.
Fame is a fickle friend. On the one side they do not want to reveal their recipes (top secret like the mission to Mars!)On the other-the more people that talk about the famed ATTA CHICKEN, the better it is for business. They can but not talk about the subtlety of flavors or the creaminess. The one thing they did reveal is that their recipe is based on the same technique that Afghanis use to bake or roast a whole sheep.
Afghanistan equals dry fruit, in all probability they use pistachios and almonds…these that are available in abundance there. Not keen users of our desi ginger and garlic or tomatoes or cream-so “elementary my dear Watson!”
Not happening, I heart nuts, totally .but in meat or chicken…no can do!
After much procrastination and the application of logic…this is what we came up with.
We keep some ingredients intact-after all its safer to be in familiar territory, make some changes here and there ET Voila… ATTA CHICKEN.
We have the luxury of a tandoor at our disposal; you may use a BBQ stand or just your plain oven.
The key is the dough and the amount of heat.
The rest all is left to god and his magnificent ways.
So this festive season try your own homemade ATTA CHICKEN.
ATTA CHICKEN- KOTKAPURA inspired…
1 whole bird-offal’s removed and cleaned (about a kilogram will suffice for 3-4 people)
2 tbsp fresh cream/malai
2 tbsp yogurt
½ tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp tandoori chicken Masala (if you do not have access to it, use garam Masala red chili flakes and kasoori Methi)
Additional red chili flakes
Atta dough made by using ¾ kg whole wheat flour and water-nothing fancy
30 cm by 30 cm muslin cloth
An “s’ shaped hook if you are using a tandoor
Sliced and spiced onions to serve (don’t forget the peg-sheg)
The night before you have to serve the Atta Chicken…
Poke/prick the chicken many times over with a fork, to better enable the flavors to penetrate.
Blend the cream/malai, yogurt, vinegar, tandoori chicken masala, salt and red chili flakes to taste (1 ½ tsp of salt is good for a full bird).
The 4 tbsp shelled pistachios/almonds (we have pistachios languishing around as now hubby dear has graduated onto the healthier option of sea salt roasted almonds)
Mix in the pounded nuts and rub over and inside the bird. Let it now rest in peace in this marinade for 12-15 hours.
The S shaped iron hook and the muslin “cheesecloth”.
Place the bird with all the marinade ,(what you cant slather on it,stuff inside it) on the muslin.I topped this with extra red chilli flakes. Wasn’t looking spicy enough for me.
Now thread the hook through the pelvis …the neck is not strong enough to handle the weight.Tie the feet with a little twine…just around itd lower back you’ll find that the bone is HARD. Thats where the hook goes in…away me hearty! Peter pan will not come to the rescue. No worries.
Get your Atta dough…me; I use my food processor to make the dough. the dough should be atleast 1/2 inch thick and not too soft.Wrap it around the kukkad /bird and seal with wet hands.
Get your tandoor or BBQ started at least 10 minutes before you venture to pack the bird.
A word of caution –the temperature in the tandoor can touch close to 630C, you don’t want it that blazing. If you are deprived of these, pre heat your oven to its highest temperature. Bake till the Atta burns and blackens and then reduce the temperature to about 160C. This will need at least 3 hours.
If you see how red and intense the flames are…you can guess how hot the tandoor is.first the ata cooks then it will cook the chicken on DUM .
This was less than 2 minutes after we placed the chicken in the Tandoor.
Yup,the seekh/iron rod stood no chance.The bird was too heavy for it…so that was replaced by a daratti- a punjabi name for a straightened sickle.दर्रात्ति it is.
After 30 minutes…but a watched kettle never boils and a little lecture”tte” on how the tandoor heat must be controlled from hubby dear-I don’t like the getting educated –as my classmates from Loreto Convent Delhi will vouch for.
I was the girl with the Mills and Boon novels on my lap when calculus was swimming around in all their brains. Don’t blame me; the teacher was B-O R ring!
That’s what I did strive not to be ,when I took up teaching math’s…all right kids? Smile for me here! Wont you!
OK, long wait two hours…we were famished! Didn’t bother with breakfast….and now we were so eager to wield our hammers. Blood thirsty!
Ah! The fruits of labor! The burnt to solid rock Atta gave way to the chicken…so tender and falling off the bone…I didn’t use food color so the pics look pale. That BTW is the muslin cloth,had to be torn off.
The ground pistachios tasted like chicken and the chicken tasted like pistachios…
Since the pics were not pretty, I plated this a la Vineet Bhatia…complete, with the rice and the onions and the gravy…
The only thing that came to my mind…Wallah!Kya Khoobsoorat lagti!..(Pran ,was it from Zanjeer…starring Amitabh Bachchan)
So what are you baking today???