An excursion in the hills
Years ago, I was working in the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya. We had planned an eye screening camp in one of the remote hilly villages.
We started our journey at the break of dawn. After travelling for half an hour on relatively plain roads; the Gypsy took a sharp turn upward and then, it was a constant uphill climb with spiralling down valleys in between. At long last, we reached a clearing in the dense forest. On two sides of it, lay the village. Few houses made with bamboo and mud peeped out of the dense vegetation when the wind blew whike others remained hidden. A small stream sparkled away gurgling and shining a thousand stars. Green and red flowers capped the trees.
The cool, sweet orange scented breeze, was so refreshing that it took all the tiredness of the back breaking journey away.
On one side stood a row of white tents. I was directed to my own tent with EYE written on it.
On the far side, waited hundreds of people, sipping tea.
We were also served hot tea made by brewing local tea leaves, ginger and sugar with a dash of fresh lemon. Instead of whetting our appetite, it increased it many fold. A tub of oranges was kept on one side. A small plate with salt and green chillies grinded together was kept on a little table too. I loved the cool sweet oranges dipped in this paste. It tasted heavenly. Delicious aromas swam about in the air. After a couple of hours or so, we were led to the lunch area.
Hot rice packed neatly in banana leaves lay on one side of the table in a big utensil. Delectable accompaniments lay adjacent to it. Though an array of delicious curries were served, the one which stood head and shoulder above the rest was called ‘Chicken Kappa’.
The melt in the mouth recipe is unique because it is made without oil.
Since the idea of making it raw like that…felt a little awkward; I modified it a bit to suit my taste and my temperament.
Sharing the recipe here.
Chicken 250 gms(chicken breast)
Chillies 10(thick ones)
Ginger 2 teaspoon finely grated.
Cooking soda 1/2 to 3/4 th teaspoon and salt to taste.
Heat a thick bottomed pan and just glaze it with one teaspoon of light groundnut or soyabean oil. Saute the chicken pieces for five minutes to remove the rawness with the flame kept low to medium. Then add the finely chopped chillies, add salt and ginger and saute it further. This is traditionally a hot dish especially suited for winter. One can of course, decrease the chilli quantity depending on one’s aptitude for it. Add two small glasses of water and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and then add the cooking soda. Be careful as it instantly boils over. Lower the flame and let it simmer until the meat is tender. Add water if needed. It can be made a little soupy or dry .Serve it hot with steaming rice.
One can do variations in it by adding some finely chopped onions, garlic and chunks of capsicum too when adding chillies and ginger, and then thicken the gravy with a little cornflour at the end.
Do try it and let me know whether you LIKE it or LOVE it.