Chicken and Dumplings Casserole

I first saw this recipe on Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking, and I have been dying to make it ever since. But I also realized that the ingredients in the original recipe didn’t account for Indian palates. So I increased the hotness factor of  the recipe and tweaked it a bit here and there, but the end result was really good.

It tastes as a variation somewhat of the East Indian chicken curry I have had so many times at so many good friends’ homes.

Ingredients

For the gravy

  • 1 kilo chicken
  • 100g streaky bacon
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled but not chopped
  • 2 medium onions chopped into large pieces
  • 4 large mushrooms sliced
  • 2  tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp red chilli paste
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp tarragon (tastes amazing with chicken)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • a dash of vinegar

For the dumplings

  • 2 cups plain flour (maida)
  • about 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4th tsp soda bicarb
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp mixed chopped herbs  

Mix the ginger, garlic and red chilli pastes. Add the juice of two lemons to it and marinate the chicken pieces in this paste. I marinated the chicken overnight, but an hour of  marination is good enough.
 Heat the oven-safe pot in which you are going to make the chicken casserole. Pour only 1 tbsp of olive oil in it. Roughly chop the streaky bacon into large pieces. Place them in the pot at some distance from each other. Brown them well on both sides. Then remove them and place them in a separate plate.

Now dry the chicken pieces (Do not worry, not much of the marinade comes off). I cannot stress on this point too much, that drying the chicken pieces thoroughly before frying them allows them to brown better. Place the dried pieces of chicken into the pot, again at some distance from each other. Don’t crowd the pieces otherwise they won’t brown. Brown them well on both sides and then remove them in the same plate as the bacon.

Now place the mushroom slices in the same pot. With the same principle of not crowding them, brown them evenly on both sides and remove them on a plate.

Finally you will have a little fat remaining in the pot. Toss in the onions and carrots till they are evenly coated with the blissful pork fat, olive oil mixture. Add the mushrooms to it, topped off by the chicken and bacon pieces. Pour any remaining oil in the plate back into the pot. Add about half a tsp of vinegar, and the remaining marinade.

Add salt and two cups of stock to the pot. (This is how I make stock. I remove the bony pieces from the raw chicken, which no one likes to eat, like the neck piece for example. I boil these bony pieces with three cups of water, 1 sliced onion and whichever herbs I have till the water reduces by one third. Finally I remove the pieces of chicken, onions and sieve the stock. I store it in a bottle in my refrigerator.)

Place the pot on heat and bring the gravy to a boil. Now cover the pot and place it in your oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes.

In the meanwhile, make the dumplings. Take the chopped herbs in a mixing bowl. Sieve together the flour with the soda bicarb and salt. Now make a well in the center of the flour and add buttermilk, slowly. Make a claw of your hand and mix the flour. Do not knead the dough, only mix all the ingredients till they are just combined. Press down lightly till the mixture is about an inch thick.

Dust your cookie cutter with flour and cut away small portions from the flour mixture till you have none left.

After the casserole has been in the oven for twenty minutes, remove the pot and place the dumplings on top of it. (Optional: You can add shredded cheese on top of the dumplings for added flavor). Place it back into the oven, lower the temperature to 150 degrees C and bake it for fifteen more minutes. When you touch the top of the dumplings they should feel springy to touch. That way you will know that they are done well.

Serve hot!

Happy Cooking!

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