Recipe contributed by: Kalyan Karmakar
A bong in real life but a Parsi at heart, Kalyan Karmakar is author of the award-winning food and travel blog, Finely Chopped. He is now also the author of The Travelling Belly.
“We Parsis love to eat organ meats,” said the Parsi girl from work whom I was dating years back. It was the turn of the century and way before the explosion of the food media in our lives. Those were innocent days when we didn’t know that the correct term was ‘offal’ and not ‘organ meat’.
We would go out for dinner every night after work and offal feasts would happen in the form of the gurda and bheja masalas (goat kidneys and brains) at Bade Miya at Colaba, paya (goat trotters) soup at Tava in Bandra and a never ending plate of Kaleji (chicken liver) fry at Pal’s Fish Corner in Bandra which serves a lot more than fish.
We got married (to each other) after a year of courting and set up kitchen in a tiny apartment that we had rented. Our first ‘kitchen’ was a narrow verandah which had been converted into a kitchen with the acumen that only landlords in Mumbai possess. It was so narrow that the two us could not stand side by side there. In that kitchen we taught ourselves to cook and tried to conjure dishes that the other would like. After a year of eating out and after paying the deposit for the apartment we had no money to eat out, you see.
As a Bengali, I had not eaten a variety of offal while growing up but I had a trick up my sleeve. Back home in Kolkata we used to have a chicken curry every weekend where a whole chicken was cooked. I would then use the liver left over from the curry to make sandwiches, stuff them in omelettes and even made stir fries with potatoes and capsicum.
One day I decided to surprise my Parsi bride and made her a chicken masala in the tava styled cooking that I had seen at a cart called Amritsar da Dhaba in Khar close to where we lived them.
She loved it and even requested me to make some more for her to take to work. It’s been fifteen years and I have learnt more about Parsis since then and have discovered their love for potatoes and eggs that they share with us Bengalis.
So I decided to make a ‘fifteen years later special’ liver dish for the missus which has its base in the simple ‘Khara’ spicing of ginger-garlic paste and dhana-jeera powder. I’ve presented three ways of eating it to add variety to the table.
Here’s the recipe and whether it is Parsi dish or ‘Parsi inspired one is for you to say. Perhaps we can call it my ‘tribute to the Parsis’.
Khari Kaleji Three Ways
- 200 gram chicken liver (kaleji), roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp crushed black pepper
- 1 tsp dhana-jeera (coriander cumin) powder
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 egg, fried in butter
- 2 potatoes, peeled, cubed and fried
- Soft pav
- Parsi Style Kachubar
For the Kaleji
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the finely chopped onions
- Once the onions browns add the ginger-garlic paste and dhanajeera powder and stir for thirty seconds
- Add the chicken liver and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes. You should not over cook the liver but if there are any blood specks inside then cook a bit more. Add salt too.
Three Ways of Serving
- If you love your liver with potato, then cube the potato before you start and deep fry them until crispy. When the liver is cooked, add in the potatoes and stir only for 30 seconds - you want the potatoes to take in the masala of the liver but not get overcooked as you want them to retain the crunch.
- Fry an egg sunny side up and serve it on top of the Kaleji just before serving
- Slice some pav and put some of the liver (and potato if you like) inside. Add some kachubar as well to give it a tangy bite. Serve as an open sandwich or Mumbai-style as a meaty vada pav.
- If you are a true blue Parsi you will do all three and add in both the potato as well as the eggs and then have it with the bread - take your pick.
This post is part of my ongoing series on the blog, the A to Z of Parsi Food which has been curated in collaboration with Parsi food enthusiasts globally. For more interesting recipes follow the hashtag #AtoZChallenge mentioned below.