Monday, May 11, 2009

The Elusive Bird : Roast Chicken

Most off sites happen off site. Where do offroaders meet when they are not offroading (in their 4x4 vehicles), they meet in a bar. Winter had not started yet, it was 2008 and Romi Malik a capable offroader with Jeep Thrills and NIOC (Northern India Offroaders Club), invited me and fellow members from Delhi and Bangalore for as Offsite in the bar of Panchsheel Club in New Delhi.

Apart from borrowing a shirt from Romi, (no round collars allowed you see) we were welcomed with his hospitality in large doses…… endless service Of Blenders Pride, Fish Tikkas, and Roast Chicken amazing. Amongst the eight of us we must have had that many chickens….. Umm soft moist white meat that came of the bone like rose petals from a flower , light gravy, moist French fries and slushy peas. An amazing signature dish. For nights I lay awake in bed dreaming of this elusive bird and how could I eat it again.

Most times I am able to generally crack the recipe by tasting something … with this I could not. Seek and thou shall find I asked Alex my fellow foodie and partner in food related crimes, an unsatisfactory response….. not the same. I asked Samar Harlankar, the current Editor of Hindustan Times Delhi and blogs on his site Our Daily Bread…… umm not satisfied yet. All of them had view or a recipe but not the same. The reason, there are so many ways to make roast chicken.

Even the word roast means different things to different people and communities in India, let alone the world. In South India Ghee Roast could be a Dosa or Chicken cooked in Masala, in Amritsar and at Surjeet Dhaba roast chicken means only roasted in Tandoor or earthern oven, could mean so many things. In Western recipes, roasting is in an oven (gas or electric) or a pot like a pot roast. In Levant world east of Italy and the Mediterranean they roast it on an electric gyro. Braised on a open fire or heat like in France, USA and South Africa.
Mustered courage and decided to call Panchsheel Club and said I am calling on behalf of Romi and I would like to pick up a Roast Chicken at 6pm that evening. Later I called and reconfirmed from Peter the Catering Kitchen Incharge (who has worked earlier with Claridges hotel) and agreed to a pick up at 7pm. My excitement grows, I miss my evening swimming session , pick up cheap wine called Dia from Sula and land up to get my order. I pay cash Rs225/- for an enormous chicken wrapped in two separate bags.I also shake hands with chef Ganesh(though I feel like kissing them).

We open the roast chicken and the wine, there is some excitement will it be the same as I left it and dreamt of many times over. Yes that and more. Soft succulent meat leaves the bone as soft sand slips from an open hand. The sauce is perfect and more (its light), the peas and fries mushy as they are supposed to be, I love it. My folks, immerse into it, we have second helpings with the sweet wine which tasted more like cooking wine or wine cooler. We all love the chicken. The four of us could easily avoid dinner. (me , my folks whom I call affectionately as Senior Citizens and our daughter Detective An)

The meal (nearly that) costs Rs60/- per head and is exotica and well below my Rs 100/- for a meal for the salesman’s guide to eating out. The chicken can be paired with a garlic toast and mash to make wonderful “ Continental” meal (with of course a better wine than the Dia I bought at Rs280/-). Dream fulfilled, Paradise revisited, I sleep better now. Thank you Romi. In my dream that night I kiss the ring on Ganesh the chef’ s hand as in The Godfather.

So Long !

10 comments:

Praveen said...

sam....my mouth is watering to read this...can we please go to panchsheel club on saturday / friday for dinner..love praveen

Raghunath said...

hey sam ur food writing is fabolous.come 2 chennai and we will visit places like velus kitchen etc 2 sample meals under 100 bucks.posted another comment a few days back.chow.

Protima said...

Samil Bhaiya, this piece is awesome..very fulfilling with the smell and the taste of the chicken..storyline is perfect, the climax great ..love it , love it , love it !! So , can i tag along when you go with my dear sister !!

Samil said...

Dear Protima,

Come over anytime. Will be happy to do it.

Warm regards,

Samil

narendra said...

What a description, I think the bird has done you proud by the taste, and you done the bird proud by describing it.

I can smell and feel the mushy peas and fries right here.

Happy eating

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