aroma · Bengali food · chicken · childhood days · curry · mum's cooking · spices

Murgi Jhol (Chicken Curry Bengali Style)

I still remember as a child, I would always look forward to Sunday Lunch. In a Bengali household there are certain dishes that remain fixed for generations and in mine it was Murgi Jhol and gobindo bhog chaaler bhaat (i.e. chicken curry with very small fine grain rice) and it has been so many years, the aroma still lingers . When you are thousands of miles away from home and mom, you try very hard to recreate those childhood memories and perhaps it is one of the best ways to hold on to those lovely memories…

Last night dinner was like being back in time and when I saw the excitement in Prithwish’s eyes with regards to dinner, I was transported back to my childhood days, except, this times roles had changed, I was no longer that wide eyed, curly hair little girl all excited about murgi jhol, I was the one cooking it.. Though I am no way near to my mum when it comes to cooking, but I did a pretty decent job..

murgi jhol (chicken curry Bengali style)

Here is how you go about it.. (serves 2)

Chicken 750 gms (3lbs) on the bones, leg and thigh pieces work great

For the Marinade

1 teaspoon of ginger paste

1 teaspoon of garlic paste

A pinch of salt and a pinch of turmeric

I teaspoon of red chilly powder

A dash of lime juice

Slit the chicken pieces diagonally and then mix them with the marinade and leave it in the refiregerator for about 45 mins to an hour..

Now for the curry

I large onions ( for all my friends in the US, one large red onion would do, for my friends back in India and rest of the world, if large, then 2,onions, if small then 4 should be good) chopped

finely chopped 4-5 garlic cloves

Finely chopped almost julienne ginger, say 1.5 table spoon

finely chopped green chillies

3 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped


Whole spices


cardamom-about 5

cinnamon -i small stick broken into pieces

black pepper corns- around 10-12

Bay leaf-4 if small or if you are using the ones from back home (far more aromatic then 2)

Coriander powder- 2 teaspoon

Turmeric- 1 teaspoon

Red Chilly powder- 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Oil (preferably mustard, if not then vegetable or canola)

Oh and I almost forgot, when I came here, my mum had stuffed my suitcase with this bled of spices, which till date, I have no idea what it contains but if my smelling senses are working, it is a blend of cloves, star aniseed, cardamom, cumin and dried red chilly.. The smell is fantastic and goes great with chicken, but if you do not have ready access to this, then try out MDH chicken Masala, comes pretty close but be careful not to put more than a teaspoon as it contains generous helpings of corriander..

Leave the chicken to marinade, then heat a wok/ kadhai add 3 tablespoons of mustard oil/or any oil you use fry the onions and as they start to brown all the ginger and garlic. You know what form my own experience I have seen that if you grate in the ginger and garlic the aroma is far better. Once this mixture starts to brown, just strain them from the oil and let it cool. Then blend them in a mixer and you will get a brownish paste.

Meanwhile add some more oil to the kadhai/wok where the onions were fried and when it is medium hot, temper the whole spices, make sure there are tiny slits in the cardamom and and pepper corns are semi crushed but be careful not to burn them.. once the spices start releasing the aroma, add the onion paste mixture, fry it in oil for a couple of minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. let it cook till the tomatoes blend it completely. Then add  the corriander, turmeric and red chilly powders, oh and off course in this case that special blend of spices ( 1 teaspoon ) if not then chicken masala.. Mix them well, temper then for a minute or so and then add the  marinated chicken, salt to taste and mix them well till the spices are  all cooked.. Now the bowl where you had marinated the chicken add 1.5 cups of water and just mix them with what ever marinade is left and add it to the chicken. At this point let the chicken simmer for about 20-25 mins on low heat and then about 3-4 mins towards the end on high heat.. That should do it.. Garnish with green chilly and corriander leaves (the second one is optional and serve it with rice) Try it out, and for all my Bengali friends, you won’t be disappointed and a trip down the memory lane is guaranteed

murgi jhol and bhaat ( chicken curry and rice) what more does a Bengali need !!




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