Tennis great, actor, and philanthropist Vijay Amritraj shares his family’s special chicken recipes

Vijay Amritraj -- one of India’s best tennis players of all time -- reveals the recipes behind some of his favorite meals. 

Vijay Amritraj
06/08/2020

As one of India’s most accomplished tennis players of all time, television host, movie star, and philanthropist, Vijay Amritraj has had the privilege of savouring remarkable meals across the world. Yet, it's his family’s chicken recipes that make him feel more satisfied than any other meal, transporting him back to his maternal grandmother’s weekly Sunday lunches. The sauce was always just a little bit different–sometimes thin and served with rice, other times thick and mopped up with warm naan. Occasionally, it was cooked in the oven and enlivened with bold spices and juicy vegetables.

 

These days, Amritraj's wife, Shyamala, prepares her own version of Indian-style chicken for him, their two sons, Prakash and Vikram, and their family and friends, and it always shines. Whether it’s chicken browned with turmeric, vinegar, and chili powder or minced and cooked with sliced potatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and spices, these two dishes feature fantastic flavours that always take Amritraj back to a special time and place. And now he’s sharing them so you can experience them in your home.

 

Vijay Amritraj's Family Chicken Recipes, Two Ways 

 

The story of chicken curry in my family dates back several generations. Both my mother’s and father’s side of the family grew up on chicken more than any other non-vegetarian dish. So, it was a staple on both sides of the family even before they got together. 

 

My grandmother on my mother’s side had a Sunday lunch every week at her home with all relatives. It was something every family member looked forward to. I was introduced to her Sunday lunches at a very early age and immediately grew to enjoy them immensely. There was always some form of chicken curry. Sometimes the sauce was thin, so you had rice with it, and sometimes the sauce was thick, so you had Indian breads with it. Sometimes it was oven cooked—spicy but dry with a ton of vegetarian options. It was always the first dish finished!

 

After my grandmother’s time, my mother did the same in our house, and chicken was always the staple. Various kinds of chicken curry with different forms of Indian breads and/or rice played a vital part of our daily diet growing up. Any other home or restaurant we went to for dinner as a family, we always asked ahead of time if there was a chicken dish being served! As we grew older and travelled extensively for tennis worldwide, we would always look for Indian restaurants and found a chicken curry, vindaloo, korma, chettinad, or any other form of the chicken cooked Indian style that always satisfied our desires. 

 

Once I was married and my wife brought her version of the chicken dish into the house, I was all set. This has always been our favourite dish for generations, and when we have friends over, this is the main dish at the table. Over the years there have been some slight changes, but the basics are always the same. 

 

The dish at any dinner we host is always a talking point because it came down through generations. It’s a reminder of family get-togethers, stories being told, and the next generation picking it up from there. It inspires you to bring people together—families, friends, and new entrants to a community. Cooking a favourite dish that has come down generations always gives first-time visitors to our home a great feeling of being welcome. It always reminds me of where I came from, and irrespective of where and how I live today, I feel blessed that I was brought up in a family that was always together and that we were able to maintain this tradition to this day. – V.A.’

 

 

vijay_recipes__L.jpg

 

THE AMRITRAJ FAMILY’S CHICKEN MINCE RECIPE

 

Download recipe:  Priceless Cookbook - Vijay Amritraj's Chicken Mince

 

KITCHEN TOOLS

 

  • Medium cast-iron pot

 

INGREDIENTS (FOR 4 SERVINGS)

 

  • 1.5 lbs minced chicken 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil  
  • 1 onion chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste 
  • 1 tablespoon (or your desired spice level) chili powder 
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder 
  • Salt as needed 
  • 2 potatoes sliced 
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves, optional

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

1. Mix the ground chicken with onions, garlic and ginger paste, vinegar, chili powder, and coriander powder in a bowl. 

 

2. Heat vegetable oil on the stove in a deep pan. 

 

3. When the oil is warm, put the ground chicken with the mixed ingredients into the deep pan and stir. 

 

4. Continue to stir so there is no sticking or burning at the bottom of the pan.

 

5. Once the chicken mince starts to change color, add some water and let it cook. 

 

6. After the chicken mince is cooked and the water has subsided, add one teaspoon cumin seeds and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, then turn off the stove. 

 

7. Sprinkle some coriander leaves (optional) and the Indian-style chicken mince dish is ready to serve.

 

 

THE AMRITRAJ FAMILY’S CHICKEN PREPARED INDIAN STYLE RECIPE

 

Download recipe:  Priceless Cookbook - Vijay Amritraj's Indian-Style Chicken

 

KITCHEN TOOLS

 

  • Medium cast-iron pot

 

INGREDIENTS (FOR 4 SERVINGS)

 

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 1.5 lbs chicken
  • 2 potatoes sliced 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar 
  • 1.5 tablespoons (or your desired spice level) chili powder 
  • Salt as needed 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a deep pan. 

 

2. Add the chicken, turmeric, vinegar, chili powder, and salt (to taste) into the pan. 

 

3. Brown the chicken and stir constantly. 

 

4. Add some water and continue cooking, then add the sliced potatoes. 

 

5. Once the chicken and potatoes are completely tender, check the seasoning level, turn off the stove, and serve.