Sunday, March 9, 2014

In which we make Chicken a la Uday Velhe on the Berkeley Darfur Stove

Uday Velhe works with me. He is our press operator and is mostly a shy and retiring person. Like Blair Eggleston, Wodehouse's fearless novelist, Uday would, if he found himself ensconced in a boudoir with a scantily clad Russian princess, take the seat nearest the door and talk about the weather. But let him loose with a knife and some provisions and he can knock you off your feet with the awesomest chicken curry you ever ate!

Here he is, in action, with the famous Berkeley Darfur Stove, an energy efficient wood burning stove developed by UC Berkeley for refugees in Sudan's Darfur.

The recipe is elegantly simple, serves 15 and uses 3 kg of twigs on the Berkeley Darfur Stove!

In case you don't have Uday (not looking his best in this photo, alas, because when I clicked him, he was straining to break a largeish twig)

you will need 
2 chickens, dressed (about 2.2 kg)
1 kg chopped onions
250 gm grated coconut (preferably freshly grated coconut)
100 gm (or, if you're in Mumbai, 20 rupees worth) coriander (aka cilantro) leaves
0.75 kg tomatoes
100 gm garlic pods (shelled)
a 'small piece' (in Uday's words) of ginger
4 bay leaves
2 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
2 tbsp Garam Masala
6 tbsp Chilli powder
1 tbsp 'Eastern' chicken masala (Rs. 5 only) though Uday says any chicken or mutton masala is good enough
Some oil, of course (Uday prefers Sundrop super refined sunflower oil, the healthy oil for healthy people)
Salt to taste


1. Light up your stove (DUH!)
2. Sautee the onions

3. When the onions are nicely caramelised, says Uday,and you will know this from the smell, which is rich enough to spurn wall street jobs which promise seven figure bonuses, remove them and keep them aside

4. Roast the grated coconut. No oil and all, just roast

5. Grind the above, (i.e., the sauteed onions, the grated coconut, 3/4th of the 20 rupee worth coriander leaves, half the garlic, half the tomatoes, the small piece of ginger and the spices, ie, the star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves save two), into a paste on the mixie

6. Heat some oil (lots of oil, actually. About 200 ml.)  and fry the rest of the garlic and the two bay leaves you saved from step 5 above, in it till it is nice and brown

7.Dump into this half the paste from step 5 above, the chilli powder, the garam masala and the Eastern Chicken Masala and fry it, till all the water in it is gone. You will know this, says Uday, by the fact that the oil begins now to float on top 

8.Then add the chicken
and fry it for about ten minutes

8. Add the rest of the paste, the rest of the tomatoes, the rest of the coriander leaves and about 1 liter of water and boil the bejesus out of it. Here, you have to add the 'salt to taste' which I measure out as about 8 tbsp. But I could be wrong (I was drinking beer by this time)

And Voila! You have Chicken a la Uday Velhe!  

Best had with Pao or Chapati


parthicle said...


Nav said...

I didn't read the recipe.. not a topic that interests mentioned Blair Eggleston at the beginning.. Hot Water!! by far my favourite novel by Wodehouse.. packy franklyn, senator opal, Jane opal, Wellington Gedge, soup slattery..vicomte de blissac.. what soon as I finished the book.. I immediately in the same moment started again..thats how much I loved it