Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicken in Poppy Seed Gravy

There are several structures in the English language that just does not make sense. It is indeed "a strange language" like the teacher who trained us to be tutors liked to say. Its idiosyncrasies are not very obvious for people who have been speaking and writing with the language for a long time. But for someone newly learning the language it is indeed very complicated and lot of times plain frustrating. For example consider the usage of the verb 'has' or 'have' which is determined by the subject.

1. I have a book.
2. She has a book.
3. He has a book.
4. We have a book.
5. They have a book.

Condone/Condole a pair of words which make me stop and think for a second before I realize which one is being used. The intricacies of the English language is nothing new but I am just starting to fully understand how strange the language really is, now that I am teaching the language to someone whose language I don't speak.

If we consider recipe speak 'few' and 'little' are two words that are very commonly used. Using 'a few' or 'a little' carries a different meaning compared to 'few' or 'little'.

Consider the following two sentences,
The sauce tastes even better with the addition of a few chilies.
The sauce tastes even better with the addition of few chilies.

The first sentence means adding a few (may be 1 or 2)chilies gives the sauce a better taste whereas the second suggests not to add any chilies to give the sauce a better taste. Usually reading through the complete recipe would give a good idea of what the cook/writer is suggesting but just going with that sentence you'd be doing the wrong thing. An English teacher of mine in middle school talked about it one day in class otherwise I'd be none the wiser. Wanted to bring this up as further proof of the strangeness of the English language.


As for the chicken curry nothing strange about it just delicious that's all. I had intended the dish to last for lunch and dinner but it got polished off by lunch. I'd like to think it shows how delicious it was. We had gone to dinner at a friend's and she made a very very tasty chicken biryani. This curry is made based on her recipe. The poppy seed gives it a creamy texture. I used a combination of chicken drumettes(chicken wings cut like drumstick) and thighs with bones. Once the curry is completed in the cooker the fat from the skin can be be skimmed of. I used canned tomatoes which gave it a nice reddish color. The orange color of most restaurant gravies turns me off but I strive for the deep red color and the canned tomatoes make it possible.


Serves: 5-6
1. 2 lbs Chicken thighs with bones cut into bites sized pieces
2. 8 drumettes
3. 1 Medium size red onion chopped fine
4. 1/4 Cup canned chopped tomatoes with juice (no salt added) minced
5. handful mint leaves
6. 1 tbsp chili powder _ 1/2 tbsp chicken masala or coriander powder
7. 2 tsp pepper powder
8. seasonings: 3-4 cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, 1tsp fennel seeds (any other whole spice you prefer), curry leaves
9. 1-2 tsp canola oil
10. salt to taste
11. coriander leaves for garnish

For the paste
1. 3/4 tbsp poppy seeds soaked in water for 30 minutes
2. 6-8 garlic cloves
3. 1 tbsp of ginger
4. 3-4 red chilies (I used kashmiri chilies for the bright color)
blend the above to a smooth paste

1. In a pressure add oil and when hot add the seasonings, let them try slightly brown
2. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent
3. Add the ground masala paste and fry till the smell of raw garlic is gone.
4. Add the mint leaves and saute
5. Now add the chicken and saute for about 5-8 minutes
6. Add the minced tomatoes and mix well
7. Add the chili and pepper powders
8. Add salt, close the lid and pressure cook for 1 whistle. (If not using pressure cooker close the lid and cook for about 10-12 minutes till the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve with chapatis or over rice.

This chicken dish goes to Viki's kitchen for her 'The Potluck - Chicken' event.


  1. I face such english intricacies while I edit books.

  2. I enjoy reading your posts....strange language indeed.
    I add a tablespoon of tomato paste for the color and thickness it gives to the gravy.

  3. Chicken curry with poppy seed paste has kindled loving memories of the curry that my grandma makes. I love the creaminess parted and I always use u're tip (grinding it with a bit of salt" to get it ground smoothly.

  4. Yep, English is a "chaotic concoction of oddities". And increasingly, as clueless children graduate and become teachers, more clueless children don't know where to put apostrophes and other such punctuation, be it a big city or a small town.

  5. If i start about how funny( i wanted to use a swear word but ....) English is,i won't stop till few pages i lets not talk abt. it
    So lets talk about food instead,coz that is a serious
    I too hate that too orangy restaurant like gravies and prefer the bit darker shades(ofcourse without adding any food colour) and this looks tooooo perfect.And Mint...ahh just the name refreshes me like anything

  6. Looks your post with so much info ;)

  7. Well indeed it is a strange languag :-)
    Love the chicken curry, i am sure bookmarking this.

  8. Yeah, English is indeed a strange language. Never thought about it til now. I used to think Hindi is a strange language with genders for everything...

    The chicken curry looks delicious!! And a very deep color that is beautiful! The orangish color at restaurants is a big turn off for me too.

    Beautiful dishes!!! :)

  9. Chicken curry in poppyseed gravy looks tempting..English a strange language indeed!

  10. nice gravy i too make almost the same way nice pic.

  11. Maybe my head is in a deep rut, but why does the second mean "better without chili" Pardon me for my stupidness

    The chicken curry is awesome and definitely going to be made next week

  12. nice way of letting us know abt the formation and usage of english sentences. thank u for sharing it with us.

    Chicken curry looks very delish...mouth watering!

  13. Sandeepa, strange isn't? 'a few' and 'a little' are usually used to indicate positive quantities whereas 'few' and 'little' are for indicating a negative/almost nothing.

    I have no idea why it should be this way because 'few' and 'little' mean a small quantity anyway.

  14. You are right about the language:-) for the grammar, my little one started reading words now.. & just to answer her questions about the silly pronounciations I am going crazy..

    This chicken looks so awesome.. yes the very desired appealing red color, as opposed to the yucky orange.. nothing on the weekend like a chicken curry & rice.

  15. The chicken curry looks and sounds delicious. Enough said.


  16. Kay, no, they have not been released yet, this is an old dish, got this for less than a dollar at a closing out sale.

  17. We make this poppy seed paste too!

    But I have to say, I loved this post as a vegetarian for the English sentence constructions ;) I'm a Masters in English and nothing pleases me more than such a post :D

  18. These look good too. I love all white dishes.. They turn the spotlight on the stuff in/on them. Can't wait for the release!! It's like waiting for a new movie. :)

    So, I thought about 'a few' and 'few'. Isn't it the same difference as

    காரம் கொஞ்சம் போடணும்
    காரம் கொஞ்சமா போடணும்

  19. Sra, sad right? e-mail,texting has further eroded language skills. It is not uncommon for people to use 'right' instead of 'write'.

    Not so much while speaking but while writing using 'there' instead of 'they are' predominantly by native speakers of the language.

  20. Kay, :) pretty much.

    'few' means avoid using it, is actually what it means.

  21. English is a strange language indeed. But I must confess, I did not get the second sauce sentence.

    One thing I notice here is the confusion over homonyms. "Their", 'there' or "your', "you're" or "to", "too" all interchanged! And I don't mean just kids, even post docs!

    Curry looks soooo good, ISG! Love the color!

  22. Used wrong ID again - the previous comment was Vani of Mysoorean :)

  23. Vani,
    'a few' and 'a little' are usually used to indicate positive quantities whereas 'few' and 'little' are for indicating a negative/almost nothing.

  24. wow! i enjied reading ur posts! nice bowl i have same bowl got it from target ...:)
    lovely chickenn curry ..:)

  25. Love that mind blowing write-up along with a delicious chicken gravy.
    I always wonder how come these people make a lot of wonders with just 26 alphabets. I too remember something like this from my favorite English Teacher. Enjoyed both the sentences with sauce and chili:)
    mmm.... we should be more careful in using this language. very tricky:)
    Nice tips on using the canned tomatoes and kashmir chilies to get that deep red color.

  26. By the way forgotten to thank for sending this delicious gravy to Potluck event.
    English and its usage puzzled me a lot:) Happens to me always. Love to read the anecdote and get carried away by the thinking:)
    Thanks a lot dear.

  27. I would say the usage of 'fewer' in the second sentence, instead of 'few' will get across the meaning clearly. If indeed 'few' is used then its definitely odd! Makes me think about my own knowledge of the language :)

  28. ISG, The curry indeed looks delicious...its been on my todo list now.
    Hope you would be kind enough to share ur friends tasty tasty Chicken Biryani. Looking forward to it.

  29. Nice recipe...Tempting pics..Will surely try this out:)


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