Saturday, 14 May 2016

Murgir jhol or A light chicken curry made the Bengali way

Robibarer murgir jhol
Friday had started with loads of housework and more than my usual number of chores.
Since monsoons are approaching, I need to sun everything to be able to wade through Pune's cold monsoon months. Yes, I am a tad traditional ... the old aunts kind of way ... when it comes to such things.
My balcony and windows get ample sunlight.
Hence the quilts are out, the bori and achaar bottles sit on the window ledges. So do the dals.
Not to mention the washing and putting out to dry all the curtains and covers.
So by the time the dishes were done and the whole house had been set, it was almost one in the afternoon. After which I started to cook lunch.
And it was not before four that I got to eat.

Naturally, I was drained by evening.
B was extra busy and was in numerous office calls all day. And that went late into the evening.
I did not make anything for dinner, with the hope of going out. Focused on the knitting that I needed to finish yesterday.
B became free only after quarter past nine.
And we sat down to discuss what to eat or where to go.
The tab came to life again and we start our search.
B wanted to have pithla bhakri. I love bhakris too.
The picture of a crisp, hot bhakri, just out of the tawa danced before my eyes.
B wanted to pick a place where I could have non vegetarian too.

All this was taking time and Pune's eating places shut down at eleven in the night.
So there was hardly any time for us to get ready and reach a place. But finally we zeroed in on one that was around 9 or 10 kms from our place.
We somehow managed to reach the place in 15 minutes flat ... just as the clock on the dashboard showed 10:59.
I was sure we would have to end up with vada paos that night. But luckily for us they took us in.
And that is where lies the catch.
Or my rant for this post.

Most restaurants take in people who arrive just before closing time.
And after you have settled down, read the menu and given your orders, they come up with this ... "Please order everything that you want at one go ... the kitchen is closing."

Drives me up the wall.

Why on earth do they take in customers if their kitchen is closing?!
How do I know that I will not need an extra roti or rice or dal or gravy later?
Why do they have to threaten you as if they are doing a favour feeding you or allowing you in?
There is a famous restaurant in the city that has absolutely fantastic food. And is one of our favourites.
But they too do this.
I mean, if we reach at 2:45 pm, they will take us in.
And after the food comes, a server will come over and give us the ultimatum ... do you need anything else? Our kitchen is closing.
And they will plonk down a basket holding all the rotis that you need....and by the time you have finish half of one, the rest have gone cold.

Makes me hopping mad.

Bengali chicken curry

Shouldn't restaurants have a minimum sensibility to at least let the people they have taken in to have a full, satisfying meal?
The simplest thing to do is not take in any more customers who arrive nearer to closing time.
Instead of having a server or two hovering around them, waiting for them to finish as fast as they can just because they have to clean and wind up.
I find it very ,very rude.

As for the afore mentioned place, we did finish early.
Not only because I was already angry at the attitude.
But also because the pithla and the bhakris were a complete let down.
The pithla was lumpy, lacked salt and cold.
The rice bhakri was chewy and not fresh. I suspect it was re heated in a microwave oven.
The jowar bhakris too were faux.
Very thin, limp, had a thin covering almost like polis and soft. And cold too.

The dream of a rustic, fragrant, thick bhakri, very hot,  right out of the tawa remained a dream.

At least for tonight.
Tomorrow, I will make ourselves some mean Pithla and bhakri.

Murgir jhol
Today, I have this beautifully light Murgir jhol or Chicken curry made the Bengali way.
While it does have garam masalas for flavour, it does not have too much of oil or the masalas are not fried for too long.
Just a stir here, a stir there, cover and let it cook on its own.

Need :

Chicken - around 6 to 7 medium sized pieces
Potatoes - 2 medium sized, halved
Curd - 5 tbsp
Onion paste - 2 tbsp (preferably home made )
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp (   "     )
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp  ( "    )
Black cardamom -2, crushed
Tej pata or Bay leaves - 2
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Haldi or turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp 
Lime juice - 2 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves - for garnishing

I do not use any dhaniya powder or cumin powder or garam masala powder for this.
And prefer the curd to be slightly sour ... home made curd sitting in the fridge for two days works best.

You can also mix everything together with the chicken and put it in a pressure cooker for a faster version.
In which case, do use less onion paste.

How to :

Marinate the chicken with curd.

In a heavy kadahi, heat mustard oil.

Add the red chillies + black cardamom + bay leaves.

Add the onion paste.
Fry well till dryish and brown.

Add the ginger + garlic paste.
Fry well.

Now add the haldi powder + red chilli powder + sugar.
Fry till all water has dried up.

Now add the chicken and fry well on low heat well.

Now raise heat, add water, potato and salt.

Cover and cook on low heat till chicken is done.

Remove cover and add lime juice and coriander leaves. 

Murgir jhol
See how soft the chicken is cooked? The meat is falling off the bone.
And the gravy is light and thin.

Serve hot.
This goes great with soft, hot rotis.
Of course, you can pair it with rice too. And some salad.

The light gravy is perfect for summer lunches or dinners.
If you like bread, then this jhol is perfect to dip a piece in.
Will be great for the monsoons.



  1. চমৎকার রেসিপি, শর্মিলা। তার থেকেও বড় কথা, কাজের রেসিপি।

    1. Ekdom Kuntala. Shob mekhe mukhe boshiye diye besh boi pora ba tv dyakha jaye. :-)

  2. Sharmila, ami ei light jhol ta dimer jonyo korbo bhebeci. Kemon Hobe bolo to?

    1. Amar mone hoye bhaloi hobe S.
      Korle janio kemon holo.


Thank you for sharing Kichu Khonn( a few moments ) with me in my kitchen!