I started a discussion on Sunday lunches sometime back on Facebook. Quite a few people wrote about Sunday lunches that consisted of dishes they had grown up. Comfort food on the day of rest.
For me Sunday lunch would be murgir jhol bhaat or Bengali chicken curry and rice.
Meat on Sundays after a week of fish and eggs was the done thing for most Bengali families at Calcutta in the 80s and 90s. Mutton actually. I remember the neighbourhood uncles queuing up at the local mutton shop every Sunday morning. We moved from mutton to chicken in our family just as I entered my teens thanks to my mom’s health awakening. Every Saturday I would go to the local market and buy chicken. The guy would take out a chicken from the cage, weigh it, behead it, pluck the feathers, cut it and put it into a plastic bag while I waited stoically. Nothing fazed me after that.
The chicken would be cooked at night. Potato and curry on Saturday night with roti… curry with chicken and rice on Sunday afternoon. I would make a sandwich with left over chicken liver from the curry to take school and then college on Mondays.
I made a chicken curry or murgir jhol this Sunday afternoon. Now the murgir jhol is very different from the mutton kosha mangsho. Kosha mangsho is slow cooked, is more garam masala heavy, browner and spicier than the yellowish jhol or curry. The mutton in kosha mangsho is served in a spice paste that is thicker and drier than the sauce in the murgir jhol. I make both in the pressure cooker. Saves time and allows the spices to mesh into the meat.
I got an opportunity to conduct a murgir jhol Master Class with Banu this time. Chicken curry is something she just can’t get right without supervision. I leave the spice mix out for her and come back to find a rather rustic under cooked curry where the spices are raw and not in harmony. Figured out the problem as I showed her the various steps today. She switches of the hob of the gas burner once 2 whistles come out of the pan. I explained to her that she has to wait for 4 whistles then reduce the flame and let it simmer for 12 minutes.
Hopefully no more murgir jhol disasters from her in the future.
I have posted my chicken curry recipe before. Is what I did today any different? I am honestly too lazy to go back and check.
Which of these are authentic?
None. I have not read up any recipe books or posts for this curry. But I am fairly sure that it will pass muster with most Bengalis.
So I am sharing the recipe once again.
And why don’t you tell me what’s your favourite Sunday lunch dish?
Murgir Jhol or Bengali Chicken curry recipe
Marinated chicken: 1 kilo chicken (700 g without feathers) in (1 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, sugar, salt + 1/2 teaspoon each of red chilli powder and garam masala powder) mixed in 2 tablespoons of curd or milk + 2 potatoes skinned and cut into 2 (essential)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pressure pan/ cooker
- Once hot add 2 dry red chillies, 2 dry bay leaves and a teaspoon of whole garam masala
- Once this crackles add the paste of 2 medium sized onions. Finely chopped would do too
- Stir till this becomes brown
- Add a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste. Stir till the colour is consistent (Ginger garlic DOES NOT go in AFTER the meat unlike what I saw Sanjeev Kapoor do with mutton the other day on TV!!!!!!!)
- Add the 2 tomatoes pulped in a blender to this. Finely chopped or packed tomato puree would do too. Stir till colour is consistent
- Add 1 kilo (700 g without feathers, skin. Smaller the better) of marinated chicken and potato.
- Add some peas if you have them around. Not essential
- Stir for a while till chicken looks a bit cooked
- Top this with a pinch of garam masala powder
- Add half a coffee mug of water to this and shut pressure pan.
- Increase the flame to full
- Wait for 4 whistles. 3 if you don’t want your chicken to be too soft
- Reduce the fame to simmer and keep the pressure pan on for 12 minutes
- Switch off flame. Wait for 5 minutes. Open pan.
- Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and split green chillies
- Serve with steamed rice
The end result is fairly light and not too hot despite the colour. The tomato pulp leaves a slight tartness in the aftertaste