CHICKEN CHETTINAD IN LETTUCE WRAPS
When P.F.Chang meets Chettinad “Annachi” the result is an Asian fusion recipe of “Chicken Chettinad in Lettuce wraps”.Everytime I walked through the malls here,after a long day of window shopping & the like , I would stop for a bite and so desperately wish for a food stall that served South Indian menu especially hot idli sambar, masal dosa,or more spicy biryani’s & chicken.Alas,I had to stick to Teriyaki chicken the only one I knew of that did not contain egg(which I was terribly allergic to!) so this attempt at a fusion dish is hoping something like this would pop out in the food stalls here in the near future:)where people like me could just stop by & be taken back in time,when food meant closer to home.”Remove the dressing the core is the same” they say,since these lettuce wraps are the zing thing catching up on every Asian menu here, why not add our own stuffing to it & relish this movable feasts in crispy cute packages.The cool crunchy lettuce wrapped around warm spicy Chettinad chicken,folded & eaten like a burrito would be a refreshing zip on a hot summer day.
“Chettinad” is the home of the Chettiars,in the southern part of the state of Tamilnadu, India.They are known to a prosperous banking and business community.Their culinary expertise gives them the apt title of being Master chefs worldwide in the art of subtly blending the spices to tease your palate,letting you ache for more,the memories they leave behind go with you as long as you live.The men of Chettinad are fondly called”Annachis” & the women folk as “Acchis”,they are known for their hospitality.
Just like the” Chicken Manchurian” which was a fabrication dish of Chinese in India,the” lettuce wraps” seem to be an American fabrication with an Asian twist.When I asked some of my friends who are of Chinese orgin, they do not believe lettuce wraps are authentic to China,but then they are as popular as the Manchurians in India,so why not let Chang meet Annachi for a change?So enjoy these Lettuce wraps with Chettinad Chicken & rekindle some fond culinary memories of the past.
For the wrap:
Green lettuce/Romaine lettuc/Boston Lettuce/snow lettuce- any of these can be used.The big large leaves are cleaned in cold water & wiped dry before folding them with Chicken Chettinad as fillings.One can use lettuce as wraps & eat it like a burrito or can use them as lettuce cups, where the Boston Lettuce & the snow lettuce come handy.
For the stuffing:(Ingredients for Chicken Chettinad):
Chicken- 1 pound
Oil- 2-3 tsp
Coriander seeds- 2tbsp
Peppercorns- 2 tbsp
Star Anise-1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds/Bade somph- 1tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera- 1tsp
Coconut gratings- 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder-1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste 2 tsp
Lemon juice- 2tsp
Tomatoes- 2(finely sliced)
Onions- 1 (large-finely sliced)
Cilantro/Coriander leaves- a bunch
Salt- to taste
1.Clean & cut Chicken pieces into desired size( depending on if you want to wrap them or eat them fro lettuce cups)
2.Marinate the cut chicken pieces with turmeric, salt & lemon juice for half an hour.
3.In a wok heat the oil & fry the spices one by one( if time permits) or all of the together slowly till they turn a light brown, then add the coconut & the chilli powder & fry for a few minutes.
4.Transfer the fried ingredients into the blender & grind them to a fine paste & keep aside.
5.Now in the same work fry the onions& green chillies to a light brown color before adding the marinated chicken to the same,now add the ground paste & the sliced tomatoes,cover with the lid & let it cook for 15-20 minutes while stirring occasionally.there is no need to add water, since the water from the chicken is enough to cook the ingredients & we also need the preparation dry for the filling to be wrapped easily without a mess.Garnish with cilantro leaves.
6.Once cooked, serve them hot wrapped in clean Lettuce wraps folding them like a burrito or as lettuce cups where they can be held inside the cup shaped lettuce & eaten as a whole.
7.Enjoy the juices flow when you get a crunchy bite of the cool lettuce with the spicy Chettinad chicken …….the core is the same,we are just separated by geographic boundaries,the flavors of home still warm the heart!