Methi Murgh – A welcome distraction

Mallika Basu - Methi Murgh – A welcome distraction

Posted 4th September 2008

It’s been a tough week. Two conflicting work deadlines. Too many colleagues on holiday.

I sat at work with double vision, editing draft 25 of a report that was once interesting. Contemplating professional suicide by staging an untimely walk out.

There were two options. I could tell my line manager where to shove her Earth-shatteringly important document. Or I could vent my frustration through a reassuringly fiddly Methi Murgh at home.

I chose the second option. You may wonder why I didn’t choose to order a takeaway. Vegetate in front of the TV. Dream about my next holiday in bright sunshine.

But there is something strangely therapeutic about hacking an onion into little bits, skinning chicken pieces and beating tomatoes into pulp. Violent, moi?

One hour of no thinking about work and the result was Methi Murgh, a thick and delicious Punjabi Dhaba-style Chicken curry, packed with the wholesome goodness of sweet fresh tomatoes and bitter fenugreek.

Next time you want to tell your boss where to go…

PS = Just as I finished licking my plate clean a terrific recipe for Methi Murgh popped up on Zaika. Great minds think alike. Although her’s was in a more positive frame.

Feeds 2:

  • 4 skinned chicken thighs or drumsticks (600-700gm)
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp thick yogurt (Greek works best)
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • 50 gm fresh fenugreek leaves or methi
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Chop the onion into little pieces. Peel the ginger and garlic. In a small food processor, puree the tomatoes together with the ginger and garlic.

Next, dry roast the whole spices in an oven for a five seconds or on a flat frying pan. Grind them into a fine powder. I used a coffee grinder.

Wash the fenugreek throughly under a cold tap and remove any hard stalks. Then set a large pot with one tablespoon to heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry for five minutes stirring constantly until it turns pale brown.

Then add the spice powder and stir for another two minutes. If it starts getting stuck on the bottom of the pan, just add a little bit of hot water and scrape off.

Now add the pureed tomatoes mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, then mix in the yogurt. The masala with thicken and start to get stuck on the sides of the pot. No panic, just add a little more hot water. When the masala darkens and it’s pungent smell goes, add salt to taste and then go in with a hand blender to puree it to a smooth mixture. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it gives you that restaurant finish.

In goes the chicken next, which you need to brown on either side mixing in the masala well. Then add hot water next to submerge the chicken, lower the flame slightly to a medium high and cook until it’s cooked. This takes a good 20-25 minutes. Just make sure you keep stirring from time to time so it doesn’t burn.

When you feel the chicken is almost ready, fry the fenugreek leaves in a small saucepan with the remaining tablespoon of oil until wilted and a darker shade of green. Then mix them into the chicken curry, lower the heat and simmer for two minutes. When oil floats to the top, your Methi Murgh is ready.

This dish is perfect with a simple dal and steaming hot basmati rice.

33 responses to “Methi Murgh – A welcome distraction”

  1. beth says:

    This looks fantastic. I agree about coking being therapeutic! Its the nearly the wekeend thank-god. Im having a stressful week at work too!

  2. Meena says:

    Looks delicious! I love methi, and adding it to a chicken curry sounds simply divine. This is going to be written down right on my menu plan for next week! 🙂

  3. arundati says:

    i have a friend who was having a bad day at work and said to me “i feel like shoving lava up his *#$…….. i couldnt stop laughing for hours!! the chicken looks great (though i am a vegetarian…so yeah its that good!!) and i hope you’re having a better week at work sweety!!

  4. Bharti says:

    it seems like a lot of food blogger channel their negative energies toward making something beautiful! I’m a vegetarian too but could probably substitute paneer here. The spices are singing to me!

  5. Maninas says:

    I feel for you. And I also agree that cooking curries is one of the best therapies there is. For those who love cooking, of course.

    Great recipe. I love fresh methi in curries. I had a veggie methi curry last week, and loved it (at a restaurant).

  6. Divya Vikram says:

    Drooling over the pic..Perfect with naan!

  7. Mona says:

    Mallika dear, totally agree with you-Cooking is a therapy for me too. Your version of Methi Murgh looks delicious, will definitely give it a try. Thnx for sharing.

  8. Srivalli says:

    mallika..that looks yum..hehhe..great that you choose the second one..else we may have missed this curry…its gives a great sense of content when you cook right!

  9. notyet100 says:

    wow,….yum,..even i go for cooking therapy…when i am feelin down nd sulky, best…:-)

  10. Geoff says:

    Sounds great!

    1 really simple question for you…..

    What does roasting the spices do? Does it just help release the flavours or does it change them?

    This is probably really obvious but I’m pretty new to indian cooking and in fact using spices at all to any extent!

  11. You know whenever I am really frustrated about something, I find that cooking and cleaning are the perfect cure – it is like being able to see tangible results of your labor right then and there!
    Looks great!

  12. Mallika says:

    Thanks guys.

    Geoff – roasting the spices gives it a more intense and smokey flavour. Of course, it’s a lot stronger than ready powdered spices because they tend to start losing their flavour the minute the pack is opened.

  13. Wen says:

    Cheers for the recipe. I’m working extra shifts with my boss while a coworker is on holidays, and a great recipe always works – predictable, reliable results for my efforts.

  14. Deeba says:

    Gonna make this as soon as winter arrives here & fresh fenugreek begins to show up. there’s something about the 2…works magic! YUM!

  15. Karishma says:

    Hi Mallika,

    I’m a regular on your website, tho’ I don’t comment regularly, but I’ve tried many of your recipes and they are simple and delicious. One question about this recipe: Where and when did you add the yoghurt? No mention of it after you’ve listed it in the ingredients section..Want to make this curry soon so hoping you’ll reply before you set off on your vacation…Enjoy your time in Tuscany, btw!

  16. mandira says:

    beautiful picture and amazing recipe. I’ve been looking for new chicken recipes and can’t wait to try this one. Hoping your draft version went on to become the final version soon…

  17. Mallika says:

    Hi Karishma – I am so sorry! The recipe is now amended. I blame holiday brain… I hope you will try this recipe soon.

  18. Eeshani says:

    Looks delish! One (rather retarded) question– can I substitute kasoori methi for the fresh stuff? Can’t lay my hands on fresh methi for the moment, but have fresh, free-range chicken sitting in the fridge just begging to be cooked into a super fab dish like this one…

  19. Mallika says:

    Hi Eeshani – That’s not retarded at all. Just go in with a tablespoon of fenugreek soaked in hot water. It’ll be lovely with your free range chicken!

  20. […] Batata Vada and Methi Murgh.  Batata Vada’s look to be the same thing as samosas, but with a besan/chickpea batter on […]

  21. You did the right thing to swallow any “bad-boss words” you might later regret and to swallow some good home-cooked food instead.

    It’s a good practice – make food not war!

  22. […] is a recipe I bookmarked the minute I saw it at Mallika’s Quick Indian Cooking. It was so tempting at the time, I just couldn’t wait for the season’s first fenugreek. […]

  23. Anisha Kuruvilla says:

    I tried your Methi Murg today and I must say it was just fantastic. It was greatly appreciated at home

  24. […] is a recipe I bookmarked the minute I saw it at Mallika’s Quick Indian Cooking. It was so tempting at the time, I just couldn’t wait for the season’s first fenugreek. […]

  25. Arundhuti says:

    Your methi murg surely looks tempting!

  26. Arindam Mukhopadhyay says:

    Liked your recipe – both bharta and methi murgh. I am planning to cook one tonight and will let you know if I have any recommendation.

    By the way, your description of an idyllic Saturday club afternoon is simply unmatched.

    Cheers and happy cooking!
    New York

  27. Andrew says:

    All I have to say is… oh my goodness. It’s friday, I went to the market after work and picked up what was needed, poured a glass of wine and began putting the love into my dutch oven. This recipe is love. My lucky neighbors got home from a movie just in time to sit down to this. They closed their eyes every time they put a bite in their mouth. This is the definition of comfort food. I can’t back it up enough. Cheers and thank you so much!

  28. This looks soooo yummy !! I am going to try this for dinner tonight. Thanks for sharing!!

  29. cool b says:

    you can add as much methi leaves as you want, there is nothing wrong. i am going to try it now but as i said with lot more methi!

    fyi… i have bookmarked this wonderful recipe here at

  30. sheba says:

    methi chk looks thrilled to have found ur blog..

  31. Amy says:

    Wonderful recipe! I just made this with the fresh tomatoes from my back garden. I also had to use dried fenugreek and found that I needed 2 tbsps instead of just the one.

  32. […] As it sizzle up, stir this into the lentils. Add salt according to your preference and enjoy with Methi Murgh or simply chilli pickle and […]

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