I have met many people (non Keralites, mostly) who on learning that I am Christian ask me if I booze regularly, live on a diet of chicken, rabbit and other fluffy creatures (something I wouldn’t mind practicing), and express unbridled surprise that I am not dressed in a frilly frock. The Goan characters that pop up in some Bollywood movies have obviously impressed upon them this notion. (Remember the short haired, disciplinarian lady dressed in a, well, dress and overly large glasses; the round bellied butler always sporting suspenders and conversing in clipped hinglish?) Even some of our own Mollywood movies, such as 22 Female Kottayam showcase the misconception that alcohol is as much a commonality as water in Christian homes. (And talking about 22 Female Kottayam, we, the people from ‘proper’ Kottayam, don’t have an issue pronouncing Bharatam, Bharya, Bhavi and Bhayanakam. I am BHristling here ;)).
My point is, as per the church (for certain denominations), Christians are expected to observe fast and abstain from non vegetarian food, alcohol and other merriment for most part of the year. Let’s see, we have fasts on –
Every Friday (in remembrance of Jesus’ Passion and Death upon the Cross) and Wednesday (in remembrance of His betrayal).
Moonu noyembu (or Rogation of the Ninevites which is a 3 day fast in remembrance of god sending prophet Jonah to Nineveh to warn its inhabitants of destruction unless they repent for their sins. )
Ambadu Noyembu or Lent (50 day fast in commemoration of the days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry)
Padinanchu noyembu (15 day fast – Fast of the Theotokos)
Ettu noyembu (8 day fast commemorating the birth of the virgin Mother Mary)
Iruvathi Anju noyembu (25 day fast before Christmas)
So, you see, that is a lot of fasting in a year, and that needs a lot of discipline. Of course, only few people observe all the fasts, and some people do drink immensely ever single day of their short lives, but there is no point in painting everyone, especially women, with the same brush. Having said that, it is advisable to have a grand chicken recipe tucked up your sleeve for the merriment that follows the completion of each fast. Such as the recipe for Niracha Kozhi (Malabar Stuffed Chicken) that I made after the ettu nombu.
I have met many people (non Keralites, mostly) who on learning that I am Christian ask me if I booze regularly, live on a diet of chicken, rabbit and other fluffy creatures (something I wouldn’t mind practicing), and express unbridled surprise that I am not dressed in a frilly frock. The Goan charac
- Remove all the insides of the chicken. You won’t be needing any of those except the liver. Cut off the neck of the chicken as well. Rub lemon juice all over the chicken and keep aside for 15 minutes.
- Boil the baby potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain away the water and remove the skin once they have cooled down.
- Stuff hard boiled eggs into the hollow of the chicken. Press the chicken legs into the hollow as well. In a pressure cooker, mix chili powder, pearl onions, tomato, fennel seeds, salt and chopped liver. Apply this mixture all over the chicken and place in the pressure cooker. Drop in the baby potatoes as well. Close the pressure cooker and cook over low heat till you hear one whistle. Take off heat.
- Heat oil in a wok. Remove the baby potatoes from the pressure cooker and fry in the oil till they have browned slightly. Next, fry the raisins till they are plump. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Toss in the cashew nuts and fry till they are golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
- Take the chicken out of the pressure cooker and place carefully into the hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn it over and fry for another five minutes. Remove and keep aside. Take the wok off heat and transfer all the oil save about 3 tablespoons into a heat tolerant container. Return the wok to heat, and add garlic and curry leaves and fry for a minute. Pour in the tomato and onion mixture along with all the chicken juices from the pressure cooker to the wok. Fry over medium heat till the mixture has reduced by about half. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to make the gravy smooth. Toss in the fried raisins and cashew nuts and mix well. Finally it is time for the chicken to go in once again and make sure the reduced sauce coats the chicken well. Heat for a couple of minutes.
- Serve the chicken with the fried baby potatoes and a tomato and onion salad.