Sunday Special Murgir Jhol or Bengali chicken curry recipe


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



very nice ,,,I can give it a try ..
looks tempting.
Priyanka said…
Looks very tempting. I prefer my chicken with rice, so this is my kinda dish! Definitely going to try it!
Ushnish Ghosh said…
Dear Kalyan
Thats a great sunday murgi-r jhol.. will try soon.
Regarding addition of ginger garlic paste , it can be done at various stages depending upon what taste we are aiming at ..In certain meat recipes (I dont have much experience with chicken cooking as it is a tasteless species)it is added in marinade, before or after adding meat. But in all traditional Bong dishes and many dishes, ginger garlic paste is added before the meat is added.
I use ginger and garlic paste separately.
Now off to the market to get chicken for a monday murgi-r jhol
Have a nice day
Ghosh Kaku
Chicken cooks beautifully even without a pressure cooker. These days I use Godrej chicken and even K (who hates Chicken with a passion) deigns to eat it and even enjoys it.

I'm guessing you use fresh chicken from the market which would explain all that cooking under pressure :)

As far as ginger and garlic is concerned, I usually put them in the marinade itself.

Your recipe sounds yummy and looks spectacular too!
Scarlett said…
Kalyan, this picture of your chicken curry has put a smile on my face. I've been so depressed food wise...I'm a terrible cook. I cook such horrible food inspite of how much I try :( And the spices that one gets here don't taste like home either. But the yellow & green of your vibrant curry has given me hope and I'm going to try making this next weekend (we cook once a week!)

Tell me something...will the curry taste very different if I make it in a pan? I don't have a pressure cooker..
Ankan said…
ahhhhh - now that is an authentic and fuss free recipe - the potato is such an essential part in the bong chicken curry - there is perhaps a methodology in the way you eat it as well - like breaking a piece of potato evenly and mixing with with the rice and gravy which is then taken with the chicken. Loved the colour of the dish - perfect bit of garam masala and turmeric. Some people suggest adding a spoon to ghee just before turning off the gas - add a bit or richness to the taste.

I tried my hand at the Kosha Mangsho yestetday - didnt turn out as dark as i would have expected it to - more like the colour or your dish - but tasted good.

Coming back to sunday lunches - i remember rice and chicken curry (from the local dhaba if mom was not in a food of cooking) with aloo bhaja (something like the salli in Bombay) listening to Derek and Rita 'O Brien on HMV FM :-) *sigh*
Shamimchow said…
the idea behind murgir jhol is akin to chat mangi pat byha - no preparation before cooking. No marination required. No curd. No tomato. And ideally Desi Murgi, not farm fed poultry. Maza usi mein he. The best jols can be had in the small hotels that dot long distance bus-stands in West Bengal.Bujhle dada?
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Harman: you should and hello after a long time

@Priyanka: yes, has to be with rice

@Ghosh Kaku, don't tell me that I have been able to corrupt your 'red' (meat) priciples and look at chicken. Of late one just can't get garlic paste in the market

@Rhea: got sort of bored of chicken specially since we eat it so often. Everything else is apparently taboo. Loved the salli chicken we ordered from you guys. At Kurush's insistance!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Scarlett: yes, it will cook pretty well in an open pan too. Cover it with a lid after you add the curry so that the aroma doesn't go away. Given the excellent quality of produce at Oz I think it will taste even better with their chickens and tomatoes

@Ankan: of course Bournvita Quiz, Musical Bandbox. SHerlock Holmes< Cosmos on TV. The joy of breaking the alu and mashing it into rice is infinite...the mutton would have been browner if you minimal haldi and more garam masala
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Shamimchow well technically this 'marinade' was made after I started frying the onions...guess one has to survive in the suburbs of Mumbai till one hits the highways of West Bengal :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Shamimchow well technically this 'marinade' was made after I started frying the onions...guess one has to survive in the suburbs of Mumbai till one hits the highways of West Bengal :)
MaDe In Umami said…
great recipe kalyan, and hits the spot on comfort food for sudnay afternoons. i too prefer light chicken/mutton gravies with rice over kosha magsho. actually ideal is the stew with large quartered potatoes, onions, carrots and beans or a mutton khichdi. have you tried that? btw in answer to your question my fave sunday afternoon meal is homemade mutton biryani!
Madhura Manoj said…
Lip-smacking chicken curry.drooling here.
Kurush F Dalal said…
green peas in murgir jhol .... sacrilege :)
apart from that yummmmmy!! :)
Ah! Sunday lunch with the Bournvita Quiz contest..what a memory that is :)

The parents would do the weekly bajaar at Khar market and then Ma would cook up a nice Bong lunch...Bhaat, daal, maachh bhaja, chicken or mangsho'r jhol...and of course, if we got an answer correct in the quiz there would be an extra piece of mutton or chicken as a prize! Those were the days... :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Kurush, spent many Sunday winters at Calcutta with murgir jhol which had koraishooti or green peas. A through the year thing at Mumbai
pragati said…
I liked your post..however being a vegetarian i can only enjoy the photos and the writing. As a child I have grown on Rajma Chawal with ghee as a Sunday lunch. Am sure many of the punjabi houses continue to have it even today.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@MaDe in UMAMI: Home mad biroyani sounds like a great idea. Mom used to make a pulao that she learnt at Iran which had meat in it. She also used to make a chicken 'stew' which we used to make at Mumbai initially. Very different from stews as I later found out

@Rhea: Bengali 'Surival of the species'

@Pragati...always feel flattered when vegetarians say they like the photos on the post. Have heard a lot about the Rajma Chawal of Punjabis. I have always had it with rotis though
the fabulous murgir jhol.. cant wait for the sundays to come.. and the alu in the jhol is heaven .. kosha mangsho(mutton) is a rarity these dyas due to high price and health issues.. but not complaining with the murgir jhol.. a wide grin seeing the louvely pictures..
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@simple times i feel sorry for poor old mutton...thank god we still have alu :)
Anonymous said…
I have enjoyed reading your articles and it is well explained with pictures and we are going to try this......

Bakery Equipment
Sunday breakfast for the 26 years I lived with my parents was always Luchi and Aalur Torkari.. It feels so good today wen I can replicate that torkari today, sply wth the first whiff of the paanchphoron wen I sprinkle it in oil..

Lunch was an assortment of typical bong food.. But yes, pieces of chicken and baati full of jhol had to be put aside for my brother to eat after school on Monday, even before we could start with Sunday lunch..

Now wen I live alone in Mumbai and smell the varied aroma coming from the neighbours' places, I miss home. Acutely. :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Incurable Insomniac, I began cooking at Mumbai when I really missed home. Felt like home ever since. Hope it will be the same for you. Thanks for writing it :)
Nuttie Natters said…
Ok i am making this one. chicken marinated, onions ummm pasted, tomatoes pureed. Will start putting it together in a but and can't wait.

I am hoping that pressure cooking is ok for non fresh chicken - my chicken was fresh and frozen by hyper city.

being a good mallu - for me sunday lunches were a mix of fish fry and rice, prawns n rice...!!! of course BQC at 12 was when all the good smells would build up my appetite!
Miri said…
Love love love this - long time (I think) since you posted a proper start to finish Bong recipe and this one seems to be a winner!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Nuttie Natters...the only problem with fish fry, curry or rice was that we used to have it every blessed day. Hence chicken on Sunday became special :) Pressure cooking should be ok and hope the dish turns out well

@Miri: well great to have you back here again. Guess I have exhausted my stock of Bengali recipes. This chicken curry too is not really a new recipe here
Nuttie Natters said…
It did turn out well and smelt quite fantastic which really built up our apetite..Pressure cooking worked out fine except the chicken did break a bit.
Anjali said…
Hi, going to try this tom, what do you mean by 'stir till color is consistent'? Thanks, Anjali
Anonymous said…
Hi, I am a punjabi, born in Liluah,Howrah but grew up in UK. I was looking for a bengali chicken recipe and bumped into this one after browsing through loads of em. Cooked it today and honestly turned out to be quite good and truely authentic, lacked a bit of salt but overall extremely pleased!! will add to my list of favourite now.
Now looking out for a good Bengali Prawn or Lamb recipe,
Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Jaz thanks for writing in with your experience. Glad it worked for you. Honestly i like my food to heavy on the salt quotient too. Hope you added some
Sunita Banerji said…
Hi I am a detective and private investigator from Mumbai. Yeah one of those rare female breeds in the Indian private investigation scene! I have often cooked the chicken curry for my husband in the exact way that you have mentioned and it's come out marvelously well so much so that the aroma escaping from the pressure cooker fills the entire floor of my apartment wing and the neighbours have come calling for a taste many a times! I also added a teaspoon of Kissan tomato ketchup to give it that extra zing once in a while. The male human palate needs variety always to keep the interest up! Keep it up. Your blog rocks!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
hi...Sunita...thanks for dropping by...has to be the most riveting comment I got on the blog :)
Sassy Fork said…
Must make this soon
Shubh said…
After reading the recipe out, Anvita has PROMISED to make this as I've been whining and moaning about chicken curry these days - our version of Banu has resorted to how they make it at her home ... nice but flavour is lost due to the nuclear blast level of chillies!
Priyanka said…
Awesome recipe Kalyan! Can I use same recipe for mutton? I know that the cooking time will increase a little. I love chicken, but somehow thought this would be tastier with mutton! (I'm from kolhapur, we love mutton) :)
Priyanka said…
Awesome recipe Kalyan! Can I use same recipe for mutton? I know that the cooking time will increase a little. I love chicken, but somehow thought this would be tastier with mutton! (I'm from kolhapur, we love mutton) :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
thanks Priyanka...a maharashtrian friend did tell me that in kolhapur meat means mutton :) you could try this with mutton too or you could try kosha mangsho which is a mutton dish here's the link
Unknown said…
While marinating..i use to put Mustard oil and Onion Paste my kinna 'Collage Hostel waali Murgir Jhol'......
Anonymous said…
Wow...i have just finished cooking this recipe...its easy and tasty...found this site while searching in google.Adding this site in my favourites.
soumyava said…
I made it today..tasty murgir jhol in very small time..thanks
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Thanks for the feedback. Great to know the recipe worked for you
Anonymous said…
Awesome recipe.. Was feeling homesick n missing my Maa s murgir jhol.. Than fr d fiancee just loved it..than a lot..keep posting..
Mohana gupta
twinkle said…
doesn't the yoghurt/curd curdles.. i tried your recipe the first time and it was amazing, but the second time, the yoghurt curdled.. don't know what i did wrong.. can you help
Unknown said…
I have just cooked it.The recipe is an excellent one.The preparation tastes good which can be proudly presented not only to the family members but also guests. One more thing, it took less time is cooking it. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Mohana...happy to play cupid :)

@twinkle...the curd norally forms a sticky marinade and doesn't curdle

@Saheli thanks for writing in with your experience. Cooking time could also be a function of freshness of meat and vary by the pressure cooker. Glad it didn't over cook :)
anumita said…
@Kalyan: this brings back a lot of memories! Can you specify the marination please... (learning to cook) :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Thanks for pointing this out. I must admit this bit. I marinated the chicken in curd. 2 tablespoons and 1/2 a teaspoon os turmeric, red chilli and cumin powders
Monika said…
I think I am gonna try this recipe. Sunday afternoons are always special :)