For a very long time I didn’t know that my favorite spice,black pepper corns have a pretty green early form,and I never saw them too.Then I happened to hear about an exotic dish called ‘pacha kurumulakaracha tharavu curry’(Duck cooked in green peppercorn sauce).The so-called dish was famous in Kottayam areas of Kerala and it is said to be super spicy and uber-flavorful.I always wanted to taste it ,but never got around doing it.Still the sound of that sauce always made me crave for it.
On our last trip to Kerala,which was a few months back, I got this pleasant surprise when I saw swirls of green pepper corn vines running up the trees in V’s home’s backyard.It was a rainy morning and such a pretty sight it was,with water drops dripping from emerald-green clusters of these amazing little things.The whole vacation was dedicated solely to eating good food ,homely food made with completely fresh and organic stuff ,hand picked from the backyard which mainly included these green peppercorns and then fresh curry leaves,tomatoes,beans,squash,raw/ripe bananas etc. I never knew before,how amazing the green pepper corns taste.They make a major impact in marinades and I am not exaggerating, when I say I had a bowl full of small Mathi (Sardine) fries made with a marinade of green peppercorns,ginger,garlic,curry leaves and salt.Not on one day,almost everyday..Those were hands down ,one of the best tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth.I so so so badly miss fresh small sardines here.. I need a break now as I am drooling so much..!
So,when we got ready to fly back,my MIL packed a small bag full of fresh plucked green pepper corns for us.After coming here,I put it in fridge and it stayed green for a very long time though it started to loose its firmness..I put a batch to dry as well to get black pepper corns.
Those were actually bigger than better tasting than the ones that we buy from stores here.The fresh green peppercorns looks/taste somewhat similar to capers.I love them pickled too..yum! So,instead of duck I chose fresh chicken and roasted it in this sauce.I know its hard to get this stuff here in US or for that matter anywhere outside India.But if you get your hands on this sometime ,you gotta try it..!
1 lbs Chicken
2 tbsp vinegar
For Sauce puree together:
About 1/4 C of fresh green peppercorns(adjust according to your spice level)
4-5 pearl onions
1 tsp Fennel seeds
2 inch stick cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
1/2 of a small star anise
About 1/3 C cilantro
A bunch of curry leaves
2 Medium sized Red Onions
2 Green Chillies sliced
Cut and clean chicken and rub with about a tbsp of vinegar and salt and keep aside.
Puree all the ingredients listed under ‘To puree’ to a smooth paste and keep aside
In a wide bottomed pan heat up oil and add the curry leaves and sliced onions and green chillies and sauté until its light brown.
Now under medium heat,place the chicken pieces on a single layer over the onions.Keep for about 3-4 mins until they turn opaque and sligthly brown and turn to other side.Repeat and remove the chicken.
Pour some vinegar to pan and loosen up all the brown bits stuck to pan .
Now add the puree and sauté until oil separates.
Bring back the chicken to the pan ,add salt and mix with the gravy.Close and cook for 15 mins or until chicken is cooked,
Open the pan and roast until the gravy is dry and coated on chicken.
Adjust salt,and add more curry leaves/cilantro if you wish.
Verdict: The sauce is very flavorful and when its fried and coated on the meat it tastes amazing.Like with pepper,green peppercorns also has a really spicy kick,the kind which you feel in the back of your throat.So keep a glass of ice water handy..But,trust me ,its so worth it to take all that heat for the treat it gives your taste buds..