Archive for May 15th, 2007

Do Piaza

May 15, 2007

DO PIAZA[My favourite Mughlai dish] 






If you want a first impression of a “Mughlai” Restaurant order and savor a “Do Piaza” dish and it will give you an idea of the standard of Mughlai Cuisine you can expect there. Indeed “Do Piaza” may be considered the culinary benchmark to judge and evaluate a Mughlai Restaurant. And if Chicken or Mutton Do Piaza doesn’t figure on the menu, better order Chinese or Continental, or stick to the Butter Chicken-Naan routine! 

“Do Piaza” means “two onions” or rather “double onions”. Now how did this dish get its name? Maybe it’s apocryphal, but legend has it that this delicious dish was invented by Mullah Do-Piaza, a renowned and celebrated cook at the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. One of the Navaratnas (nine jewels), it is said he could conjure up culinary delights using only two onions, and a Mughlai dish cooked in that particular style is called a “Do Piaza”. 

Water is not used at all when cooking a Do Piaza. Onions (Piaz or Pyaaz) are used twice – hence the name “Do” [“Two”] Piaza, or Pyaaza, spell it which way you like. 

Come Dear Reader; let’s try a Chicken Do Piaza. It takes time, but it’s easy. 



First cut a generous number of onions (the more the onions the sweeter the gravy) into rings, yes separate rings. Now, in a large cooking vessel, put in the chicken pieces, add a liberal amount of curds and mix well. Copiously layer the chicken-curd mixture with the onion rings, cover with a tight lid and set aside to marinate for at least an hour. [Remember, do not vigorously mix in the onion rings; just liberally layer the chicken-curd mélange with the onion rings]. After an hour or more, place the vessel on a slow fire with the lid on, and let the chicken cook slowly in its own juices and those released by the onion rings, till the onion rings are reduced to a pulp and, finally, the liquid almost dries up. This is the first “Piaza”! 



In another pan, pour in and heat pure ghee and fry sliced onions (the “second” piaza) till crisp brown, add finely chopped ginger and garlic, bay leaf, slit green chillies, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and then an adequate amount of chopped tomatoes, stir and fry on slow fire, and when the ghee separates, add the chicken [cooked in curds and onion rings] from the first pot, and stir fry till well browned and the gravy becomes nice and thick. [I don’t like to add garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder, or any other spice powders; but if you like it, go ahead.] I always find it best to taste the gravy and add the minimal amount of salt as necessary almost at the end of the cooking process. Remember, do not add water at any stage or you will ruin the dish. A “Do Piaza” cooks in its own juices – during both the first and second “piazas” 



Place in a serving dish, squeeze a lemon, garnish with fresh green chopped coriander and your Chicken Do Piaza is ready to eat. But first let’s look at it. It looks appetizing – nicely browned generous pieces of succulent mutton, in translucent juicy onion rings in scrumptious gravy. It smells good too – heavenly mouthwatering aroma wafts towards you making you smack your lips and salivate in anticipation of the gastronomic treat that awaits you. It tastes marvelous – absolutely delicious, not spicy hot, but mild and flavorsome, the unique sweetish zest of onions discernible, and as the heavenly medley of flavors and fragrances synergizes inside you, and you feel a sense of supreme satisfaction. Relish the Chicken Do Piaza with hot chappties, phulkas or even a piece of soft fluffy pav, and you will experience sheer bliss.