This is the season for large bowls of chicken stews being slow cooked for early winter dinners. I love quick recipes most of the times but I do slow cooking whenever time permits and in those recipes I do some adjustments so it requires lesser active time over the stove. I mean I want to let the stew simmer on it's own for a long time and then add some stir fried stuff and simmer some more. The active time over the stove would not be more than 10 minutes and add another 10 minutes for chopping the copious amount of vegetables that I like to add to my stews.
This chicken stew is made with chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces and loads of mushrooms, bok choy, lotus stem slices and spring onions. I added a few slices of winter red carrots too but I generally avoid this variety of carrots for my stews. The glossy orange summer carrots are better suited for stews I feel. The stew has flavours of a rich stock that simmers along with the chicken on bone and a tadka of homemade shrimp paste that I add to my meat curries sometimes. This shrimp paste makes such stews really deep in flavours, bringing in the umami factor without using any bottled sauces.
2 numbers of chicken thighs on bone cut in 3 pieces each
roughly chopped bok choy 2 cups
spring onion greens chopped in 2 inch long strips 2 cups
spring onion bulbs sliced thinly 1/4 cup
button mushrooms 200 gm pack
lotus stem cleaned and sliced 1 cup
carrot slices 1/4 cup (optional)
fresh ginger root 1 inch piece sliced roughly into 4 pieces
dry shrimps 1 heaped tbsp
garlic cloves 5
salt to taste
freshly crushed black pepper to taste
fresh red chilly of any hot variety like bird chilly or dallae etc few slices (use chilli flakes or chilli oil as a substitute)
water 1.5 liter
sesame oil 1 tbsp
Heat water in a deep and wide vessel and add the chicken pieces into it. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove any froth that appears.
Now add the chopped bok choy, spring onions and carrots being used and let the stew simmer on low flame for about an hour. The bok choy that I had was a large mature head so I added it along with the chicken, baby bok choy tastes best when added at the time of finishing the stew.
Make a paste of garlic and dry shrimps or just pound them lightly together. Keep aside.
After about an hour when the chicken is cooked thoroughly and the stock tastes and smells nice, add the salt and pepper and start heating another frying pan with sesame oil.
Tip in the shrimp paste in hot oil and then immediately add the lotus stem slices. Toss and cook for about 3-4 minutes before adding this to the cooking stew. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Clean and chop the button mushrooms in halves or quarters depending upon the size.
For finishing the stew just fish out the ginger pieces. I like to keep the spring onion greens so I cut them into bite sized pieces but if you want to discard them at the end you can just tie the long springs together and dunk it into the simmering stew and fish it out in the end.
Add the mushrooms, slices of spring onion bulbs and the hot red chilly, bring it to a soft boil again and serve the soup immediately. If you are planning to serve the stew after some time you have to take care to add the mushrooms and the slices of spring onion bulb in a simmering stew just before serving so they retain the bite and the flavours.
The stew is so good I can smell the aromas form the screen. You would be able to do the same once you taste it. I add raw broccoli florets along with the mushrooms sometimes in this stew sometimes but please don't replace any other vegetables in it. All the other vegetables are crucial for the bouquet of flavours this chicken stew packs. You must make this same recipe once and then decide what else you would like to add to it.
Although I must add that you can replace the bok choy with a mix of cabbage and just a few radish slices. Use different varieties of mushrooms if you wish but lotus stem is more for the textures rather than flavours, that can be substituted with halved baby potatoes. Sesame oil is essential for this stew, if you are using some other cooking oil please add some freshly toasted sesame seeds over the stew while serving. You get the drift?
Try it once this winter and let me know.