Friday, June 4, 2010

Murgh Masala - Chicken Masala

Hey guys! I'm back.... since erghh 15 days! And I'm still struggling to find time to write a post. I told you how excited I was when I left ...did I also tell you that I joined a new job the very next day? Perhaps not. So thats what has been up. New job. And its not easy. Not as easy as I thought it was to get used to a new place, new people and new work. Strangely enough the new job was a gamble that I had taken for ..." the kick of it ". New things excite me and sometimes I get carried away. Not that I regret doing it, but I miss my friends at work. I really do, more than I thought I would. And I have exams coming up in about 10 days. So there I go again bitching.

But you that's not entirely true. I love my life but just about sometimes I need to bug someone and that someone turns out to be my blog. But I have something great for you, be merry !

Now Murgh Masala is the hindi name for a chicken in spicy sauce. And there is no standard recipe for it. Anything that has chicken and spice would be put as murgh masala. A restaurant menu would describe this dish as succulent and spicy chicken whole legs cooked in onion ,tomatoes and almond gravy. With a good hand on  Indian spices, you can almost never go wrong with Indian style chicken. This one is a much easier one and big on taste. Try it.

Murgh Masala
Serves : 2 famish or 3 normal or 4 sophisticated people.
4 whole chicken legs
10 almonds
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp Sauf aka Fennel Seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
2 green chillies
2 cardamom pods
2 red onions (finely chopped)
2 tomatoes (small and ripe, chopped)
1 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 tbsp Olive oil
Coriander to garnish


Grinding fresh spices is so easy and I don't know why people run from it. With a coffee grinder or spice grinder, it happens in a matter of seconds and adds so much to the depth and aroma of the food. Its not like I'm asking you to get a mortar and pestle, which I will after my retirement .Go ahead use the seeds and grind them yourself. But if you won't budge you can use powdered spices too but you will have to double the quantity.


Marinate the chicken in yogurt, red chilly powder, turmeric, GG paste, green chillies and salt. Keep aside. If you are a planned person you might want to marinate it overnight and I will praise you. But if you are like me 1 hour of marination will work and we are friends. If you can marinate it for half an hour ONLY it will work well as well and I'll understand.

Meanwhile, lets grind the spices. Almonds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods and fennel seeds all go together to the glorious journey of murgh masala. Zoom Zap, see it just took 15 seconds !

Heat oil in a wok or saucepan. Add the chopped onions and let them soften. Add the almond spice mix. This is going to be moment as the beautiful aroma of sauf will engulf your kitchen.

Add the tomatoes and let them reduce to a paste. My damn tomatoes were red but so not ripe. See.

Add the marinated chicken along with the marinate. Cover and cook for 25 minutes at low heat. If the paste seems to dry out, try adding a littler water, just enough to help the cooking process.

Garnish with coriander.

Rich, succulent and spicy. This is Indian food. Not the oil drenching, awfully spicy and red colored chicken. This is real stuff, the one you will make again and again.


  1. I wonder what made your curry so dark red...mine was rather orange looking.And wasnt color of my tomatoes, mine were about the same colour as yours.Its just that final picture...

  2. Hi AZA,
    Thanks for trying the recipe and I hope you liked it even though the color wasn't as you expected. As for the color, as you can see from the step by step and final picture, I'm sure mine looks a bit darker than it can turn out to be and its flash photography! But its not orange.

    But in general I do get this question often from friends on the color of my curries. And the secret is rather simple, I use a very good variety of dark Kashmiri red chilly which gives food a deep red color. Hope that helps.

  3. This looks fabulous! However, some members of my family shy away from spicy. Is there one spice or another I could specifically reduce to cut some of the heat but leave a lot of the flavor intact? Or would it be better to just reduce everything a little bit?

    Also, I have some garam masala in my cupboard that I've only used once and would like to use up. Is there any way some of that could substitute for some of the ingredients here? Sorry, I'm not well versed in Indian spices.

    Thanks, and I truly can't wait to try it!

    Erika K

    best food processor

  4. Hey Erika,

    I just wrote a post about the fact that not all spices add heat. Only red chilly powder, dry, fresh chilies are the only source of heat in spices. Rest of the spices only add a wonderful flavor. If you trying to use up garam masala, Instead of all the spices stated above use, 1 tsp of garam masala, 1 tsp of red paprika, 1 tbsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp of cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp of turmeric. Omit red chilly powder and green chillies for no heat. It will taste different from this but still pretty awesome! Let me know how it goes :-)

  5. Hi, you have a lovely blog. I made this tonight-- unfortunately, something was off. It didn't have the gorgeous colour of yours, and the taste was only OK. I'm sure it's me, as your chicken clearly looks much better than mine did, and I'm sure it tasted better as well.

    1. Hi Nikhil,

      Thanks for trying! I have people tell me their color has been off than what it looks like in the post which I really think is matter of what quality of red chilly powder use (I always use kashmiri) and also how ripe and red your tomatoes are. I'm not sure what might have gone with the taste though :(

  6. I was looking through your index yesterday for inspiration for the evening meal. It was just gorgeous, nice and spicy but not overly hot. Mine too was a deep orange, but the enjoyment is in the preparation and the tasting which was a huge success. We had it with rice cooked with short fried vermicelli. I always love your recipes and this one lived up to expectations. Thank you :D

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed in Merryn :) Some day I can get around posting better pictures of it hopefully!

  7. I tried this recipe today and it came out really good. Thank you :) I used 8 pieces of chicken wings to make it ,It was very pleasing to the stomach and the eye

    1. So glad to know that Anju. Thanks for your feedback

  8. Kulsum, Hi my two bits, I have found through experience that I get a better or richer red when I use whole red chillies instead of powdered chillies. Not sure why.

  9. Thank you so much for this recipe. I've made it twice now and it makes for a delicious and special weekday meal. The first time I made your naan to accompany it and today I served it with some brown rice and steamed veg. Will be making it again and again. Please do share more recipes for dishes like this and with veggies if possible. Cheers!

    1. Made this again today but with one change. My spice mix was quite gritty so I ground the onion tomato and spice mix and made a gravy out of it. Turned out wonderful.

  10. Does it have to be chicken legs or could i go ahead and use the breasts of the chicken?
    Does it turn out just as well?


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