Bhopali Chicken Rezala: The Journey Of A Mughlai Origin Dish
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Welcome to the alluring streets of Bhopal, where the tantalizing aroma of chicken rezala wafts through the air. This iconic dish has its origins rooted deep in the city's rich culture and history. As you wander past street food stalls, the unmistakable fragrance of freshly ground spices - fiery red chillies, earthy coriander, pungent garlic - pulls you in. Your mouth waters as you watch tender chunks of chicken getting drenched in a creamy, tomato-onion gravy, turning a seductive red in colour. The cook expertly simmers the gravy to let the flavours meld - the sweetness of tomatoes balancing the heat of chillies. Chicken rezala is complex in taste - at once spicy, tangy, and rich. The secret ingredient is a magical blend of spices known as rezala masala. Specially crafted by the local maashis of Bhopal, it lends the dish its trademark taste and aroma. No two cooks use the exact same recipe - each have their own proportions guarded preciously.  

Today, Bhopali Chicken Rezala remains an iconic part of the cuisine and cultural heritage of Bhopal. For a true taste of the city's living history, one must sample the dish in its original form - a flavourful journey into the royal kitchens where this timeless culinary delight was first created.  

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Origin of Bhopali Chicken Rezala 

It is said that when Wajid Ali Shah was exiled from Lucknow to Kolkata, he reached Lucknow and was unaccustomed to the fiery flavours of Bengali cuisine. The complex spices wreaked havoc on his palate, which was used to the mellower tastes of Awadhi food. To soothe the Nawab's taste buds, the royal chefs adapted a classic Mughlai recipe: the rich and creamy korma. They created a lighter version called rezala, tempering the spices and letting the flavour of the meat shine through.  

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The origins of Bhopali Chicken Rezala can be also traced back to the royal kitchens of the historic kingdom of Bhopal in the 18th and 19th centuries. The city was ruled by powerful Begums, or queens, who patronized the culinary arts and encouraged the development of refined dishes using the finest ingredients. It is said that the Begums' royal khansamas (cooks) experimented with various spicing techniques and cooking methods to create what is now known as Chicken Rezala. The use of curd or yoghurt as the base for the gravy was an innovation that lent the dish its characteristic tangy flavour. 

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As you dig into the rezala with flaky parathas or steaming rice, the gravy oozes, chicken perfectly falling off the bone. Each bite is an explosion of diverse flavours and you are transported to the heart of Bhopal. Beyond the satisfying taste, this dish has a soul - it connects you to the city's winding lanes dotted with mosques and bustling marketplaces. For hundreds of years, Bhopalis have welcomed guests with their prized chicken rezala - an enduring symbol of the city's hospitality and rich food heritage. Its flavours tell stories of the people, places, and history that shaped this dish into the pride of Bhopal. 

From street food stalls to upscale restaurants, almost every eatery in the city serves their own version, which locals and tourists alike flock to sample. Some renowned places to savour authentic Bhopali Chicken Rezala include Rafique's in the Chowk neighborhood, renowned for their secret family recipe, and Bhopal Inn in Hamidia Road. 

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Recipe of The Delicious Bhopali Chicken Rezala Recipe 

Here is how to make this royal delicacy at home - 


  1. 2 tbsp ghee 
  2. 1 cinnamon stick  
  3. 5-6 cloves 
  4. 4-5 green cardamom 
  5. 1 tbsp ginger paste 
  6. 1-2 tbsp garlic paste  
  7. 750 gms chicken 
  8. 1 tbsp coriander powder 
  9. ¼ cup fried onions 
  10. salt to taste 
  11. 2 tbsp almond, poppy seeds & coconut paste 
  12. ½ cup curd 
  13. ¼ tsp clove powder 
  14. ¼ tsp mace powder 
  15. 1/2 tsp black pepper powder 
  16. pinch of nutmeg powder 
  17. pinch of saffron 
  18. 2 tbsp fried onions 
  19. 2 cups chopped coriander 
  20. 4 green chillies 
  21. water as required 
  22. 1 tsp ghee 
  23. 7-8 green chillies 
  24. 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  25. boiled egg for garnish 

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Method of Preparation  

  1. In a pan Heat ghee and add cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, green cardamom and sauté.
  2. Add 1 tbsp ginger paste, 750 gms chicken and sauté. 
  3. Add ¼ cup fried onions, 1 tbsp coriander powder, and salt and mix well. 
  4. Add 2 tbsp almond, poppy seeds, coconut paste, 1/2 cup curd and stir continuously. 
  5. In a bowl mix ¼ tsp clove powder, ½ cup curd, ¼ tsp mace powder, ½ tsp black pepper powder, a pinch of saffron, 2 tbsp fried onions. 
  6. Add the curd mixture to the chicken curry and mix.  
  7. Add 2 cups chopped coriander, 4 slit green chillies and mix again. Add water and cook till rogan comes on top. 
  8. In another pan, heat 1 tsp ghee, add slit green chillies and fry. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice and fried green chillies and mix well. 
  9. Serve hot and garnish with boiled egg and coriander.