We used to live on the wrong side of the street. The wind was adamant – and prejudiced. It preferred the even-numbered side of Gower Street. It was generous with its deposits of snow every time. News reporters gathered on Gower, facing the even numbers and filming the jelly bean houses peeking out from what seemed like a snow avalanche. What never got mentioned was the wind playing games with us. We got used to it. We got used to self pity, pity from the odd-numbered side of the street – and the rest of the country. While we spent copious hours digging ourselves (and our entire lives) out and then spending the next few days in bed with a sore back, the ‘others’ got away with a broom, a dust pan, and a snicker. That broom and dust pan is a deep-rooted sarcasm (but not entirely made up).
We have moved houses since and with that it seems the winds have changed as well. The wind seems to favour none. We all get endowed without prejudice. This time there is less drama over the amounts of snow, less pity, and absolutely no television reporters. We go out and shovel snow peacefully like it’s second nature, be it 5 or 50 centimetres. We don’t feel the need to stare incredulously at the other side of the street. Peaceful, in an odd way.
Truth be known, I do love the snow and I do love to shovel snow as well. I did not grow up with snow in India, so I am making up for lost time (my husband’s theory). But what I love most about the snow is how it heightens a bowl of simple home-made stew. The snowy coldness outside begs for stews to be cooked innumerable times without dullness. No matter how much snow we have to shovel – or how numb our toes and fingers have become – a hot bowl of stew cooked with the humblest of ingredients becomes a meal fit for a king.
WINTER STEW WITH ROOT VEGETABLES AND CHICKEN
Adapted from my family’s recipe
- Chicken (bone-in): 1 kg
- Onion: 2 large, cubed
- Garlic: 15 large cloves
- Ginger: 2 inch, sliced thick
- Whole black peppercorns: 1 tbsp slightly crushed
- Bay leaf: 1
- Potato: 2 large, cubed
- Carrot: 3 large, cubed
- Parsnip: 2 large cubed
- Green beans: 1 bunch, cut into 2 inch pieces
- Peas: 1/4 cup
- Butter: 3 tbsp
- Veg oil: 1 tbsp
- Flour: 2tbsp
- Water: 4-5 cups
- Milk: 1/4 cup
- Heat oil and butter together over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf and let cook for about 2-3 mins.
- Add the chicken and stir for 4-5 mins until the chicken seem well coated with the butter. Now add the vegetables except the peas.
- Stir the vegetables and chicken together for another 4 mins.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and chicken and stir for another few minutes.
- Add water and salt to taste and let boil.
- Once the stew starts boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and let the stew finish cooking till the chicken is completely cooked.
- When ready to serve add the milk, a dollop of butter and some freshly ground pepper.