Deboned and cleaned chicken chopped in medium and small pieces.
Vegetables of choice--cut, peeled, sliced, shelled. As required.
Onions -- 1, small.
Butter -- 50gms (frozen and cut into little pieces).
Flour/maida -- 3 cups (you can use as much as you like, of course, provided you use more butter).
Optionals: Garlic and green chilies -- pasted. Ground black pepper. Sour cream. Li'l white wine.
Now let's see how may pictures we can generate from that tiny req. list.
First, the filling. In a wok/korai or skillet or frying pan, heat a little butter. If it's a age-worn thinning-bottom steel korai like mine, beware. Taking your eyes off will make the butter char (and impart a lovely smokey flavour to the dish). First, in butter, fry chopped mushrooms. Keep aside when done.
Now, in the same piece of butter-charred kitchenware, heat a teaspoon or two of sunflower/canola oil and fry the rest of the chunky ingredients in succession. Till they're all nicely browned. Exceptions: ingredients like peas. In other words, make your common sense earn its keep.
Drain and keep aside in a bowl. In the same p. of. k-ware, heat another teaspoon of oil. Move it around. When the already-greased bottom is even more greasy, drop in the sliced onions. Fry till all of it turns transparent and some of it browns. Now add the optional garlic/green chilli paste and fry till the garlic browns lightly.
Bring back the veggies. Add the ones your common sense held back last time. Mix thoroughly. Add water. Add salt and sugar, plus herbs/spices of choice. Cover and let cook.
When the meat and vegetables are tender and the gravy hasn't thickened, scoop them out and keep in a bowl to prevent it becoming unrecognisable fragments (or a gloopy blob). At this point, the gravy can be thickened with a few dollops of sour cream, or by boiling off water. When the gravy is thick enough, pour it over the vegetables and chicken.
I skipped cream and used a roux. Which I tried to make over an unlit oven, leading to initial droplets of buttery flour all over the wok.
Pour the thickened gravy with chunks into this. You might consider keeping the filling in the fridge for a day. A day had passed between me cooking the filling and me making the pies, and most of my gravy had been absorbed by the chicken and cauliflowers, leading to a delicious taste-explosion in my mouth with every substantial bite.
Gravy-absorbed chicken and vegetables
Said chicken and vegetables into the roux
Add a little water if you want a thick soupy feel. After all, this will be cooked further inside a pie, and you don't want them drying out. This is the consistency I had at the end.
The filling is now done. Now, I know Dea_Chan said she gets puff pastry for the pie crust, and I'm sure I'll get some in Calcutta if I really looked, but I'm more inclined to spend ten minutes making my own pastry dough, right in my own kitchen, in my tattered blue dress and slippers. No running around for me, thank you.
Mix the flour, salt and sugar. Say, three pinches of salt and a tablespoon of granular sgar (less if powdered). Now upend the bowl of frozen butter pieces onto this. Mix them quickly with your fingers (the more you touch, the more the butter will melt) and then attack it with a fork, cutting into the floury butter till it looks all crumbly.
Going with the spirit of not melting the butter, we now add some water. Ice water. In batches, little by little. And then using the fok further we mix it in slowly with each little bit of water, till it's holding together. Then we use our hands to give it a basic roundish shape.
Rolling pin to beat the dough down
Rolled-out dough stretched out on a bowl
Ladle some thickened soupy filling into the bowl. Cover with the remaining pie crust dough to make a lid, Seal. Make a few holes or gashes on the surface of the lid. Bake in a preheated oven at 250C till your place is redolent with the aroma of meltinng, toasted butter cubes. Keep checking if the gravy inside is bubbling (you'll see through the holes at the top) and the top crust is browning.
The larger dish
The too-small top crust :-(
Taken care of!
Once it's nicely browned, let it cool for a few minutes. Tuck in!