Salem brings back a lot of nostalgic memories. Like someone said, it is difficult to tame an animal that still has wilderness in its memory, I guess even people displaced to a new place will always carry their childhood memories of their home town, no matter how old they grow. We as a bunch of kids were always outdoors, either playing or fishing in wide and deep wells, transferring to a big bucket of water hoping to bring up this new found pet that never survived for more than two days, collecting rose plant cuttings and growing in our own pots and waking everyday with anticipation to see pretty flowers, that only bloomed like a surprise, once in a blue moon, but still pretty and we would gather figs from a tall tree in a nearby college ground, pelting stones at it, which was always, always infected with worms and when every time a funeral procession passed by, we would rush to the end of the street, climb the walls of the temple there, cling on to the window grill and would try to catch a glimpse of the dead person and discuss later who it was, not that we know, but just for the fun of it. While now, I shudder even when I hear the sound far, far away.
When it came to food, those were the best days, because the ladies who were young back then, made us all possible delicious food, that even my son, nor my nephews have had the chance to taste it till date and now they are pestering me and my mother to make all those delicious foods that my grandmother made for us. My little twin nephews who are barely '8 years old', know exactly what they would eat if they were to visit salem! Well, even we grown ups have our favourite eating spots and favourite food in salem, that we never fail to miss, before we board our trains. After all, it was my hometown for nearly thirteen years! 'Pichipotta kozhi varuval or pichi kozhi' as shortly called, is a simple stir fry that can be fixed in no time and one that will tempt you to make quite often.
Chicken 300 gms
Ginger garlic paste 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Chilly +coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies 3
Oil 2 tbsp
Fennel 1/2 tsp
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Curry leaves few
Pressure cook chicken with 1/4 tsp salt and a good pinch of turmeric powder for about 10 minutes ( If turmeric powder is used while cleaning the chicken, then avoid the turmeric and cook the chicken with just salt and do not add water)
Let it cool. Shred the chicken into long strips, discarding the bones. Keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan, add the fennel, as it begins to change colour, throw in split dry red chillies and the curry leaves.
Add the finely sliced onion and sauté until the onion turns golden and lightly crisp.
Add the ginger garlic paste, stir, add the turmeric powder, chilli+coriander powder, 1/2 tsp salt and stir again.
Add the shredded chicken stir well until everything is mixed, add in freshly ground pepper stir for a few more seconds and serve hot with rice or chappathi. Garnish with a few more fresh curry leaves.
For a spicy 'pichi potta kozhi or shredded chicken fry', add more red chillies and chilly powder and for a peppery fry, reduce the chilli powder to 1/4 tsp and add more of ground pepper. Here, I have given a balanced version of the two.
When transferring the chicken to a serving bowl, make sure to scrap the crisp, fried masala from the bottom of the frying pan, that’s full of flavour.