The Chicken Liver Recipe
At my brother Patrick’s request I’ve included the ‘Chicken Liver Recipe’. This was a dish I used to cook a lot for friends and hungry siblings, when I was a student living in London in a fleapit of a rented flat. Chicken livers seemed to be beyond the capability of your average British cook so they were a luxury ingredient that you could buy for peanuts in those days.
Bhooni Kaleji (Sauteed Liver)
Half a pound of chicken livers
4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
three quarters teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
half teaspoon salt
half a teaspoon paprika
4 crushed cloves garlic
I teaspoon lime or lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) or good vegetable oil.
Rinse, clean and dry the liver, removing any greenish bits, and cut into almond-sized pieces. Pound and mix all the other ingredients (apart from the butter or oil) together. Mix well with the chicken livers and leave to marinate for about half an hour. Heat a heavy frying pan and add just enough butter/oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the fat begins to smoke, add the liver. Stir well and cook on high heat, so all sides of the liver are in contact with the heat. The liver will be ready in 60-70 seconds; overcooking will harden it. It should be crisp and very tender. Serves two.
Remember that if you want to multiply up the ingredients to serve more people you should not overcrowd the pan, as the livers will steam rather than fry crisply. So either use a bigger pan so they can cook in one layer or cook them in batches
Serve on top of plain boiled basmati rice with a big dollop of natural yoghurt on the side and maybe a side salad. If you have some fresh chopped coriander leaves to hand sprinkle some over the top.
In case I have an international readership ‘ha!’, Americans call coriander ‘cilantro’.
Which reminds me of a story of when I found out the English name of this wonderful herb. We used ‘dhaniya’ in cooking for years when I was a child in Fiji and adored it’s wonderful flavour. Daddy even tried some failed experiments to capture the essence in his own proprietary sauce, little knowing that he was a precursor to an entire Hollywood celebrity sauce-making industry.
Anyway, when I started art college at the age of 18 and was walking back to my miserable Finsbury Park bed sit on the first day, I stopped at an Asian shop to buy something for my supper. The smells took me right back to childhood in Fiji and Bimla’s delicious dhaniya infused daal. To my delight I saw huge fresh bunches of dhaniya, which I’d assumed I’d never taste again after leaving Fiji. So there we were, me - a very white, very Anglo-Saxon eighteen year old, saying to the amusement of the middle-aged Asian shopkeeper, ‘Yes, I know it’s dhaniya, but can you tell me what it’s called in English?’