Have any of you ever eaten a “Sajji”? I’m sure it goes by different names around the world, but here where I live it’s called Sajji. Even saying the words makes my mouth water. Say it with me: Suj-jee. It’s this Asian delicacy, in which a whole marinated chicken is stuffed with spicy rice and roasted over hot burning coals. The recipe is quite similar to how people make turkeys on Thanksgiving (different stuffing, I know); but Sajji is spicier, tangier, juicier than any turkey you’ve ever laid your hands (and teeth) on! What’s the proper way to eat it? Let me show you how.
Note: My apologies to any vegetarians out there.
First, tear off a large piece, yeah that’s right, grab that whole chicken thigh in your hands. Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty; this dish deserves to be eaten like an animal. Close your eyes and take a long sniff of its titillating aroma. Now lower your head towards the flesh, puncture it with your teeth, and jerk your head to rip it off, and wait as it slowly burns into your mouth, exploding your salivary glands. Start chewing it slowly and let your tongue savor all the different tasteful sensations contained within. Now hold the chicken piece in your left hand, and use the fingers of your right hand to mash up some rice together, hold them gently, put them into your mouth, and then let the fiery chicken and the lemony, spicy rice join forces together to accomplish one mission: To Blow. Your. Mind.
Well, the last time I ate a Sajji like this was 15 years ago.
At that time, I was 7, and we all (me, me Mom, Dad and Bro) used to sleep together in one room. I slept on the sofa, Mom and Dad on the bed and Bro on a floor mattress. So, once every week, we’d all be awake at 1 or 2am and just lie in our beds, all quiet, not saying a word, just pretending to sleep, when suddenly one of us would whisper “I’m hungry” and then all the other three would shout out “Me toooo!” Whenever this happened I would immediately jump off the sofa, onto the bed and start hopping up and down until all of us had a consensus on eating Sajji. And then Dad would go out on his bike to the only restaurant nearest to us who made the best sajji on this entire planet; “Rehman Restaurant”. It wasn’t actually a restaurant in the traditional sense; it was more like a “Dhaba”. Do you know what a Dhaba is? It’s like a Desi, open air take-out diner which cooks all of the food in front of you. Anyway, Dad would come back home with two huge sajjis packed and ready for a devour-a-thon!
We all would gather down on the mattress, under the lamplight and gobble it all down within 10 minutes. I always used to take the largest portions, because I took the unfair advantage of being the youngest in the home 😛
After the meal we would all lay on the bed, hunkered together, shared jokes, discussed movies, Mom and Dad would share their life stories, and I don’t know why but those nights were more special to me than my birthdays.
We sometimes tried sajjis from other places but they were never as good as the ones from Rehman Restaurant. Unfortunately, soon it was taken over by a different management; the chefs changed and so did the taste, so little by little we stopped going there and our midnight snacks diminished to once per year. After that we just stopped eating sajjis altogether because whichever we tried, they just weren’t good enough, and it’s been like, what, 10 years since I last ate one.
Well, anyway, those nights will always hold a special place in my heart; and that’s why Sajji was and still is my most favorite childhood meal.
Day 10’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice
I always write all of my posts in my own raw and idiotic “distinct voice”, so the twist wasn’t much of a twist for me 😛
I still wish I can find that guy who made those heavenly chicken delights, and then ask him to partner up with me and build a Sajji Empire together 😀
Maybe in a parallel universe we already have! Just maybe 😉