An important part of my childhood memories is my mom’s style of cooking the Bengali Chicken Curry. No matter how many years pass by, the taste and aroma continues to linger. As a child, Murgir Jhol made by mom would excite me. And even today, when I follow her recipe in my kitchen, I still feel that same excitement. As I cook this curry, it’s like I am living my childhood again. That’s the magic of mothers’ cooking.
As a child, I hardly took a liking for any dish other than the chicken curry. Even the legendary hilsa would rank after that. Beside the other non vegetarian items that mom would make for dad and herself, she would cook this chicken curry for me all seven days a week (imagine!). No wonder this dish is so close to my heart and is so distinctly etched in my childhood memories. I believed one thing – no one cooks Murgir Jhol better than my mother. And I still believe that. All daughters (yes yes, and all sons too) would believe that.
This preparation is every bit Bengali. We begin by marinating the chicken pieces with mustard oil and some spices. This traditional chicken curry does take a little longer than other recipes, but every bit of that wait is worth it. Another typicality is adding diced potatoes to chicken or mutton curry. We do that in this recipe. Though, other times when i am cooking chicken, I usually skip adding potatoes. But in this case, I just don’t omit it. Lest, that will be called tampering with authenticity.
For every dish, there are numerous ‘authentic’ recipes. And Bengali Chicken Curry too has many. Like my aunt cooks it by adding cumin powder and garam masala powder. But mom doesn’t. And all the versions are, again, every bit Bengali. You possibly can’t say that, that’s a wrong recipe or that’s the right one. Some others in my family also use yogurt in the marination. But we don’t. These are simple minor variations, which slightly alter the taste of the final dish. And eventually, they all remain the Murgir Jhol with its widespread reputation.
Ma's Murgir Jhol ~ Chicken Curry Bengali Style
Author: Arundhuti Rama
- Chicken, 1 kg., skinned and cut into medium sized pieces
- For the marinade:
- Lemon juice, 2 tbsp.
- Mustard oil, 1 tbsp.
- Turmeric powder, 1 tsp.
- Red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp.
- Salt as per taste
- For the gravy (jhol):
- Onions, 3 medium sized, thinly sliced
- Tomatoes, 2 medium sized, grated or puréed
- Potatoes, 2 large sized, peeled and cut into 4
- Bay leaf, 1 no.
- Green cardamoms, 4 nos.
- Cloves, 2 nos.
- Cinnamon, 2 one inch sticks
- Black peppercorns, 1/2 tsp.
- Sugar, 1 tsp.
- Ginger paste, 1.5 tbsp.
- Garlic paste, 2 tbsp.
- Coriander powder, 2 tbsp.
- Kashmiri red chilli powder, 1.5 tsp.
- Turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp.
- Green chillies, 2 nos.
- Mustard oil, about 6 tbsp.
- Water, 4 cups
- Salt as per taste
- Lemon juice, 1 tbsp.
- Coriander leaves for garnishing
- Wash and clean chicken pieces. Marinate with all the ingredients for marination for at least 2 hours.
- Sprinkle a little salt and turmeric powder on the potato pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of mustard oil in a pan or kadhai (I used my large pressure cooker). Toss the potato pieces and fry till them till they turn slightly golden brown in color. Remove and keep aside.
- Next, add one more tablespoon of oil. Once it heats up enough, add the marinated chicken pieces. Fry them for about 5 minutes or till the time they start getting the brown color. Remove from pan and keep aside.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of mustard oil. Once hot, add the peppercorns, bay leaf, cardamoms and cinnamon sticks. Next, add the sliced onions and sugar. Cook till they are golden brown. Next, add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for about a minute. After that, add coriander powder, turmeric powder and kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix well. Add the tomatoes along with salt. Cook for another two minutes.
- Now add the chicken pieces. Mix well. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add water, green chillies and the potatoes. Mix well. Cook till done. Drizzle lemon juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves before serving.
On days when you are pressed for time, you can skip frying the chicken pieces in step 3. Though I prefer to follow it, I have tried the other way as well. It still tastes good. Also, my mom usually adds the green chillies with the onions. But adding them at the end was Mayank’s idea. I have noticed that it does slightly enhance the flavor.