FOOD AND TRAVEL

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Murgh Mughlai - Mughlai Chicken

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You should make this and then die gleefully. Its so good, M often makes breakfast when I promise him this over the weekend. And the dishes. Tell me, can there be a better way to live life? Never mind that I often end up over eating it and stare at my thighs in real despair at the same time. Just run extra that day. Its all about balance.

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The Mughals have contributed to India's rich history not only in form of architectural but also greatly in food. Since Mughals were Persians, their cooks adapted from the best of both worlds, whole and ground bold  Indian spices and the rich creamy nuttiness from dry fruits reminiscent of Persian cuisine.  The cooks where instructed to use the best of ingredients, which came from different regions of the country. Colleen Taylor Sen in his book Food culture of India even states that the chicken were fed pellets flavored with rosewater and saffron and massaged with musk oil and  sandalwood every day until they were considered fragrant and fat enough  to be served to the kings.

From kormas, kebabs to curries, most of the North Indian food you find in the up scale restaurants have Mughlai influences. Even the hugely popular Indian biryani and pulao have roots into the imperial era. Restaurants often name their Mughlai recipes relating to a Mughal emperor's name like Akbari Korma, Murgh Jahangiri but I really doubt if the dish has anything directly to do with the kings.

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Mughlai chicken will certainly make you feel like a king or queen. Its rich, creamy and flavored with aromatic whole spices. The recipe looks long but as I always say, once you have those spices on hand, its really not complicated. If you are looking for a grilling recipe, the marination works great for chicken kebabs. Also, you can also easily make a vegetarian version of it using paneer (Indian cottage cheese) instead, the instruction for which are given in the recipe below. 

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In other things, I have added a flickr slideshow of all step by step pictures at the end of post to help you through making the recipe. Also, you haven't noticed Journey Kitchen has a facebook page which wants  love  likes from you if you enjoy the blog. Thanks!

Mughlai Chicken  - Murgh Mughlai
Serve 2-3
Click here for printable recipe 

Ingredients

For Marination*

1/2 kg chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 green chilly, chopped finely
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

For Sauce
1/2 cup red onions, finely cubed
8 cashews, soaked in water overnight
5 almond, soaked in water overnight**
1/2 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 green chilies, chopped to paste (optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup water/chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream***
2 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Whole Spices 
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick (2-3 inches)
1/2 tsp whole mace
2 whole cloves
1 tsp black cumin (or substitute with regular cumin)****
1 cardamom pod

For Garnish
Mint
Nuts

Note

* For a vegetarian version paneer works really well. Just mix cubes of paneer with 1/2 tbsp of ginger paste and green chilly paste (as required) and fry them with 1 tbsp of ghee till lightly golden. And continue with the recipe in the same way.

** Soak the almonds overnight and pinch the skin off before grinding it.

***  For a lighter version, use yogurt in place of cream and just add a tbsp or two of cream at the end.

**** The regular cumin is the white cumin called jeera in hindi. Black cumin, shahi jeera/kala jeera in hindi is darker and has a sweet lemony kind of flavor. I particularly like to use black cumin in curries with nuts and cream. Substitute it with 1 tsp roasted white cumin if you don't have it.

Method

Marinate the chicken  with all the ingredients stated under marination.

Heat a frying pan and place the chicken on it. Brown the chicken pieces. You want to get a good color on the chicken and its okay if it doesn't completely cook completely as it will cook further in the sauce. Restrain from eating the chicken pieces. Its the most difficult part about this recipe. But once you eat it, you will realize this is just the marinade you wanted for your next barbecue party!

Grind the nuts with as little water as possible (less than 1/8 cup) and keep aside. Heat ghee in kadai and add all the whole spices. Once they bring to brown, add the finely chopped onions.

Let  the onions cook they become pinkish and turning light brown. Add the ginger, garlic and chilly paste.Tip in the coriander powder.

Now, add the nut paste. Once you add the nut paste, the water will start to evaporate and the mixture will come together as a lump.  Add the water (or chicken stock), garam masala, nutmeg and salt.

Let it come to a boil, and then add the cream and chicken pieces. Cook till  it  reduces to a thick sauce consistency. 

Garnish with mint, nuts and fried onions. Serve with naan.


Variations
- Add a generous pinch of saffron for a Saffron Mughlai Chicken

- Grind a handful of coriander and mint leaves with 1/2 cup of yogurt and add to the curry towards the end and cook for another 5-6 minutes  for a coriander and mint Mughlai Chicken
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44 comments

  1. Looks so rich and decadent! I can imagine how creamy it will be! I will have to try this with paneer :)

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  2. Oh wow, this sounds like it would taste amazing.

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  3. that first pic is to die for..soo pretty

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  4. Oh my gosh, mughlai chicken is one of those dishes which always reminds me of my Papa. He makes the BEST chicken in the world!! Your recipe is almost similar to what my dad makes. Will definitely give it a try. Thanks for bringing back some memories for me sweety!

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  5. This dish looks magnificent and the pictures are just lovely.

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  6. Beautiful pictures Kulsum, now I want that bowl of chicken curry and naan. I can trade them for the lunch meal (lemon rice) I made.

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  7. Thank you everyone!

    @Radhika How much I love lemon rice! Thanks for the idea I think I'll be making it tomorrow.

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  8. Lovely recipe...I love that paneer makes a great veggie substitute!

    The photo of the cinnamon? Beautiful!

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  9. This looks amazing! I love mughlai chicken. Also, the photograph of the cinnamon bundle is BEAUTIFUL!

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  10. Thanks for the recipe Kulsum! The vegetarian version would be perfect for my partner's temple Fridays. I like that cream can be replaced with yogurt as well.

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  11. I just love that photo of the cinnamon sticks. I also didn't know that paneer meant "cottage cheese". It looks delicious and yes I would also eat it and then have to run extra hard...

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  12. Looks like such a gorgeous dish Kulsum. I especially love the photos, most especially the cinnamon bundle. Gorgeous!

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  13. I love that tidbit about the chickens being fed rosewater and saffron pellets and being massaged! It's always so interesting to find out more about the history of a dish.

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  14. Oh my goodness gracious...what a gorgeous, delicious dish!!

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  15. Wonderful ... I could clean the platter too...
    Ahhh... I so envy the life of those pampered chickens... good life good food... ;)

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  16. What lovely photography Kulsum. Just loved the shot of the cinnamon :)

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  17. This is just the perfect chicken dish when you feel like experiencing a king's meal :)
    I love such rich flavors and would make this exact recipe sometime.

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  18. I LOVE the look of this recipe, I recently posted a chicken curry recipe on my blog and explain how Saturdays are a dedicated 'curry night' in our house, this is definitely being saved and will hopefully make an appearance soon! Really lovely recipe and gorgeous photography too, very happy to have found your blog indeed :)

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  19. Love all the cinnamon & spices in this chicken. Can I please have some for dinner?

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  20. It looks amazing. juicy and moist and full of flavor! your making me hungry now

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  21. Ooh, this looks heavenly. And I just love using ground nuts in curries. Thinking to make for my king and little princess this weekend.

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  22. Ooh. Perfect. And gorgeous pictures too, Kulsum. :)

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  23. It certainly has that royal touch to it. Thanks for all the information. I lap up such information with much gusto apart from the recipe.

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  24. I m late for the party!!! :) Looks terrific...ha ha I know the bfast & dishwashing exchange you are talking about..I think its how it should be..like they say..why should guys have all the fun...LOL!
    I especially like that you chose a combo of almonds & cashews for the gravy (just like I do..GOD our cooking matches so much)..I find only cashews too heavy & all almonds little less rich!

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  25. I've always been a little intimidated with making curries before I started getting ok with my cooking skills. Now that I'm getting better I realise that a long list of ingredients doesn't mean a difficult recipe. this looks warming and full of flavour. Lovely photos, Kulsum.

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  26. Aaaargh where did my comment go??!!! Anyways, again then- I love korma type curries that are more creamy and less spice heavy. I'm definately trying this one soon. Love the picture of the cinnamon BTW!

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  27. Absolutely wonderful. I love your photographic style, and this looks like an absolute warmer of a dish for this shaky weather we're having.

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  28. Beautiful shots my dear! Almost makes me wish I ate lamb ;p.

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  29. This looks to die for!mmm...the sauce..just mouthwatering.

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  30. Mmm.. this is such a good post and I am loving the recipe. My mother's version is even more complicated and included roasted and ground cahsew powder. You recipes sounds simpler to execute. Must try it sometime. LOVINNGG the pics! Darn... my tummy is growling now ;)

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  31. Kulsum love this step by step slide. Brilliant!! This dish looks might delicioious!!

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  32. Absolutely love this and am bookmarking the recipe! Love the flavors and love creamy and rich sauced Indian dishes. Beautiful!

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  33. Such a lovely dish! I absolutely wanting to try!

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  34. This sounds incredibly aromatic and full of flavour!

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  35. Your photos remind me how important food photography is. I've never tried Mughlai Chicken before, but with your beautiful pictures of the food, I can't wait to eat this. That's why it's so important to capture "deliciousness" of the food. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  36. seriously seriously, you should start your own cook book :D lovely recipes and pictures !

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  37. This chicken looks so delicious! Plus I love the history behind it. One of my favorite things about cooking many Indian dishes is the stories behind them and thinking about all the people--all the way back to Mughal kings--that were eating and enjoying something similar.

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  38. What a tasty sounding dish! I like the cashews in there.

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  39. Smitha (Betty sis)August 9, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Hey dear.. tried this one yesterday for a party and I was flattered with all the the praises..it was really awesome!! thanks for the recipe!! doing a great job :)

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  40. for more information on mughal history...check following link.
    http://mughaldarbar.blogspot.com/

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  41. I am fron Hyderabad and let me promise you that this recipe is not the right one.

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  42. @anonymous - Let me assure you that there is no stamp called Murgh Mughlai. I know there are various variation of how people make Mughlai and this is how I and my family has been making for years. We call it Murgh Mughlai, I have served it to countless people calling it Mughlai and I continue to do so. I'm sure this is not the *right one* as per your own recipe, but may be yours is not right one according to mine. Food is an interpretation of the cook and not a mathematics formula. I appreciate constructive criticism but don't think much of people who leave one line comments without any explanation and hide behind anonymous. Thanks for dropping by though and would love to try your version of the recipe!

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  43. Tried this recipe today. Really liked the marinate and the 5 almonds to 8 cashew ratio is perfect!! I made the coriander and mint version!!

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