Ammulu Gari Kodi Kura

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My mother, or ammaa as I called her, was a doctor at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam. So, for most of my childhood, Sunday was the day we would have meat at home. Owing to our financial situation, her choice of meat was invariably chicken, and this particular curry is one of my strongest culinary memories. When I cook ammaa’s chicken curry now, it is this memory I dip into, and not a written recipe. I close my eyes and see Ammaa cooking, and remember all the wonderful aromas wafting through our kitchen. Often, recipes are named after some king or nawab whose court it can be traced back to. I believe that naming this one after the woman who used to cook it in the style I remember so well is my way of asserting identity, and breaking norms of who gets to name a dish and after whom. Furthermore, the usage of ground poppy seeds instead of the more popular cashew paste for a creamy texture, I believe, is the ingenuity of a woman improvising, revolutionising, and fighting the homogenisation of marginalised — in this case, Dalit — households.
Ginger paste 2 tablespoons
Garlic paste 2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 2 tablespoons
Curd 1 cup
Vegetable oil 2 tablespoons
Salt 2 teaspoons
Chicken — curry cut, skinless 1 kg
Vegetable oil 3-4 tablespoons
Cinnamon sticks 2 inch
Green cardamom 4-5 pcs
Cloves 6-7 pcs
Ginger paste 2 tablespoons
Garlic paste 2 tablespoons
Onions, roughly chopped 3 cups
Green chillies, slit 7-8 pcs
Curry leaves ¼ cup
Red chilli powder 2 tablespoons
Poppy seeds 2 tablespoons
Salt To taste
Coriander leaves 2-3 tablespoons

A mixer grinder, a pan for cooking, cutting board and knife, and a few other utensils commonly available in the kitchen.

Marinate the chicken in curd, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and oil for 2 hours or longer.

Soak the poppy seeds in ½ cup of water for at least half an hour and grind into a smooth paste and pass it through a sieve, saving the liquid left after straining.

Coarsely crush the cinnamon, cardamom, and clove in a mortar and pestle or a mixer.

1

Heat the vegetable oil in a large enough pot and add the crushed spices. Allow it to bloom for a few seconds and add the ginger and garlic pastes, and sauté for a couple of minutes until it no longer smells raw.

2

Add the chopped onions, green chillies and curry leaves, and sauté until it starts to brown.

3

Now add the marinated chicken, turmeric, salt and chilli powder, and cook on medium-low heat.

4

When it is about 80% cooked, add the poppy seed liquid, and cook for a few more minutes until the curry begins to thicken.

5

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, add the chopped coriander and stir once again. Turn off the heat and allow the curry to cool down till it’s warm and all the flavours have been absorbed by the chicken pieces.

6

Once the curry has been kept aside to cool for 30-45 minutes, serve with plain rice.

Vamsi is a Bangalore-based theatre artist, who has been part of the fraternity for over a decade. What started out as a hobby during his undergraduate years at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, soon became a significant vocation, and then a full-time profession. His theatre is influenced by his Dalit identity, experience, and location, which inform the questions, topics and mediums he engages with. Currently, he is working on a new performance piece called Come Eat With Me, which explores the relationship between caste and food.

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