Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Badami Murg Shorba (Chicken in Almond Sauce)

So I have been meaning to post this for a long time but somehow it got forgotten amongst other day to day chores. Elaborate recipes like this need the right kind of mood and a good occasion to go with it. I had made this one last December for ushering in the New year and then I again made it last week simply to celebrate the onset of pre-monsoons. Such a rich recipe can only be had when the weather cools down a bit. And this year we had a very hot and humid summer in Pune – totally unsuitable for any dish that was heavy on the stomach.

After such a scorching summer I felt as elated as a peacock when I saw the first drops of pre-monsoon hitting my office window. Only I didn’t have a ornate tail to spread and show off my happiness (poor me!). Nonetheless, me and a couple of my colleagues rushed to the parking lot to feel the rain on our face. The smell of the wet earth is so tantalizing that it makes you forget all the summer ordeals. We stood there by the balcony staring at the rain. People were scurrying around trying to hide themselves behind the shade of a tree or a tea stall. Some less fortunate who were on bikes were letting themselves soak in the rain. The Gulmohar tree in our office premises had suddenly started looking all bright and clean- red flowers swaying in the rain. The mercury had gone down considerably and a pleasant breeze had replaced the searing summer wind. Time for celebration and planning our first getaway to enjoy the beautiful monsoons.

Such a nice weather demands gastronomic celebration as well. My heart was set on Khichudi and begun bhaja (khichdi and fried Aubergine), the very typical way for a Bengali to celebrate a rainy evening.  But I saw some chicken in the freezer languishing from a couple of days.  So racked up my brain and recreated  this rich and decadent almond based curry of the Mughlai origin. Anything Mughlai has a royalty feel to it, same applies to this recipe as well.

I am a glutton when it comes to some of my favorite recipes. So who is not? Anyone who cooks surely loves their meats and vegetables not to mention their sweets. It’s another thing whether they accumulate the calories like me or not. I really envy those gourmet chefs who are known to cook up a storm in their kitchen and yet look like they haven’t eaten in years. For normal people like you and me, an extra bowl of delectable kheer or an elaborate  seafood platter means extra hours of working out to avoid piling up of good-for-nothing calories.

Since I am not a housewife I do not have the time to pick and choose recipes and then go shopping for the ingredients. Most of the ingredients that goes into making anything special is always available at my home which I usually pick up during bi-weekly trips to the super markets. Last time my mom and mother-in-law visited our place they gasped at the variety of spices and other ingredients present at our home and tagged it as over indulgence. But anything for good food and photography. And for patrons of good cooking.

It always makes you happy when someone appreciates your dishes. But it’s an honor when someone says that they are going to showcase your creations to the masses. While I was working on an endless presentation one day I received an email which was from a lady named Arnie kaye dillen who wanted to share some of my works on her company facebook pages(, etc). I was going crazy with work and I wasn’t sure whether this was some sort of a spam mail or not, so it was simply forgotten with time. But soon after a couple of days I got a sweet “gentle reminder” mail from the same lady asking whether I had received her earlier mail. That was a reality check. Someone really was interested in my food. I felt a sudden adrenaline rush, somewhat jittery and a lot more ecstatic. I quickly responded back with an apology of not responding first. Arnie is a very very sweet person, she published my recipe and even sent me a link of the same. The saga still continues. I remain to be the procrastinator as always putting the blame on my workload and Arnie patiently bears with me and sends me mails, invites, requests followed by those sweet little gentle reminders after which my guilt starts to buildup and overpower me and I quickly do the needful :). I hope this beautiful association will continue for a long time. This special chicken recipe is dedicated to this very sweet lady.  

Marinating Time: Overnight

Preparation Time: 20 minutes 

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


Cuisine: Mughlai


Marinade (overnight)
·                     Chicken – 1 kg (cut into medium sized pieces) 
·                     Lemon Juice – 2 tsp
·                     Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
·                     Black Peppercorn – 4 (ground)
·                     Salt – 2 tsp
·                     Curd (beaten) – ¾ cup
·                     Garam masala (ground) – 1.5 tsp
·                     Refined Oil – 1 tsp
For Tempering
·                     Bay Leaf - 2
·                     Green Cardamom Whole -3-4
·                     Cinnamon Stick - 2"
·                     Clove -4-5
·                     Nutmeg – ¼ tsp
For Gravy
·                     Onion – 2 medium (made into fine paste)
·                     Potato (Diced) – 2 big
·                     Ginger Paste – 2 tsp
·                     Garlic paste -  1 tsp
·                     Charmagaz (melon seeds) or Cashew (paste) – 3 tsp (Optional if you want to make the gravy extra thick)
·                     Almonds – ½ cup (soaked and skin removed)
·                     Fresh green chillis – 3-4 (or depending upon your spice tolerance level)
·                     Milk – 1 cup ( you can also substitute by fresh coconut milk)
·                     Raisins – 10 (soaked) [you can use as many depending on your liking]
·                     Sugar to taste
·                     Salt to taste
·                     Ghee or refined oil – ½ cup
For Garnish
·                     Almonds- 6-7 (lightly fried)
·                     Fresh Coriander Leaf – 2-3 twigs
·                     Fresh cream -  2 tsp (optional)
1. Clean and cut the Chicken. In a bowl take the chicken and add all the ingredients mentioned under marinade. Mix well and leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Fry the diced potato and keep aside.

3. Lightly toast the skinned almonds. Let the almonds cool down and make a thick paste of almonds and ¼ cup milk. Keep aside.

4. Make a paste of the onion and green chilli.

5. Take a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind all the spices mentioned under tempering except bay leaf (the spices become more fragrant by grinding)

6. Take a heavy bottomed pan (kadhai) and add the ghee/oil . When the oil is hot enough add the ground spices and bay leaf. Toss them for a few minutes until fragrant

7. Add the onion-chilli paste to the spices. Add a pinch of salt and sugar. The salt will help in softening the onion faster and the sugar will caramelize in the heat and give a nice color to the onions. Sauté until the onion is soft and takes a golden brown color. The oil will also separate at this stage.

8. Add the ginger-garlic paste at this stage and let it cook for 5 more minutes

9. Add the chicken from the marinade and lather it well with the spice mix of the pan. Let it cook for a while taking care to brown the chicken slightly on all slides. Keep tossing the chicken around to get a uniform browning.

10. At this stage add the marinade to the chicken and fold in. Add a cup of warm water to it. Using warm water instead of normal water enhances the taste of the gravy. Mix well. Cover and let it to cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame.

11.  When the chicken is almost half cooked add the soaked raisins and let it cook till chicken is tender. Add some sugar at this stage if you want your gravy to be on the sweeter side. I usually prefer a balanced taste not too sweet not too salty.

12. Add the diced potatoes and let it cook. (adding potatoes is optional)

13. If you are planning to add charmagaz or cashew paste add it once the chicken is cooked and oil floats up. Let it cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve the preparation in a bowl and garnish with fried almond pieces, coriander twigs and cream. You can add a dollop of butter to this if you wish. Naan, roti or basmati rice anything will go well with the chicken. I prepared Zafrani pulav as an accompaniment.

Note: This gravy is supposed to get its color from the fried onions and is a turmeric less recipe.

Sending this recipe to  Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event.

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