Murgir Laal Jhol: Homestyle Bengali Chicken Curry
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Bengali cuisine is a reflection of Bengal's wealth and sophistication, characterised by its rich culinary traditions, painstaking preparation techniques and the use of exotic ingredients. The recipes of the Bengali cuisine are appealing and their flavours are concentrated. Bengali culinary culture is known for its hearty fish curries and extensive but refined use of fish in their eating practices. However, the the Bengali culinary culture also boasts of many delectable chicken dishes, with Murgir Laal Jhol being one of the most well-known among these dishes. 

This chicken curry is made in a very simple Bengali style; chicken cooked with large pieces of potatoes and mustard oil. This simple, straight forward and delicious delicacy is not just mouthwatering but also a mood lifter. The aroma of Murgir Laal Jhol from the spices, onion and garam masala gives a general sense of happiness in the air. This delicacy is well known for its gorgeous crimson colour in addition to its hot, delectable flavour.

Bengali curries are beautifully unique and quite different to other Indian dishes. They can be cooked dry 'Kosha' or more soupy 'Jhol' so you can make them to suit your tastes. 



    1 kg Chicken

    1 small Onion roughly chopped

    1 1/2 inch Ginger roughly chopped

    6-7 large Garlic pods roughly chopped

    2 1/2 tbsp Yogurt

    2 tsp Lime/lemon Juice

    1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder

    1 tsp Chilli powder

    1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

    1 tsp Cumin powder

    1/2 tsp Coriander powder

    1 tsp salt

    1 tsp Mustard oil

For the Curry-

    3-4 medium Potatoes washed, peeled and cut in half

    2 Large Onions thinly sliced

    2-3 Green Chillies slit

    2-3 Bay leaves

    2×1 inch Cinnamon

    5-6 Cloves roughly pounded in mortar

    5-6 Green Cardamom roughly pounded in mortar

    1/2 tsp Bengali Garam masala

    1 tsp Ghee

    1 tsp Sugar

    Salt as per taste

    3 tbsp Mustard Oil/ Veg oil

Procedure for preparation:


    Firstly add onion, ginger, garlic, yogurt in a mixer grinder and ground into a paste

    In a large bowl add the chicken and all the ingredients mentioned under marination along with the onion-ginger-garlic paste

    Mix it really well with hands and cover and keep it aside for at least 30 minutes

To make the Chicken Curry-

    Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large thick bottomed pan/ Kadhai on medium heat 

    When the oil is hot toss in the potatoes along with some salt and fry till the potatoes are golden brown

     Once cooked, remove  the potato with a slotted spoon and keep it aside

    Add the rest of the oil in the same pan and heat it on medium high heat, temper it bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms and saute until the oil is infused with the flavours of the spices

    Add in the sugar and heat is slightly until it caramelises a bit (This adds a lovely reddish tinge to the curry)

    Now add the sliced onions and saute on medium high heat until it is soft and golden brown in colour

    Now add in the marinated chicken along with the marinade and cook on medium high heat stirring continuously for 9-10 minutes or until the meat is no longer raw

    Now add in the fried potatoes along with some salt and mix it well with the chicken 

    Cover and cook for another 10 minutes stirring frequently so that it does not stick to the pan 

    When the chicken looks dried up (kosha) and you see oil seeping through the sides, add 2-3 green chillies and 2 1/2 cups of hot water(you can adjust the amount of water as per your liking, add more water if you like the jhol more thin) to the chicken and potatoes  

    When the chicken curry starts boiling, check the seasoning and add salt or sugar if required

    Cover and cook on low to medium heat until the chicken and the potatoes are cooked properly

    Finally add Bengali Garam masala and 1 tsp ghee to the curry and give it a good mix and boil for another 2 minutes and take it off the heat

Please do not get intimidated by the colour; this is a very watery chicken broth. The alchemy that occurs when you combine the correct ingredients in the proper proportion without making the gravy thick or is what gives the sauce (or "Jhol") its red colour.