Thawing with Murgh Masala

Mallika Basu - Thawing with Murgh Masala

Posted 11th February 2009


I’ve only just thawed following the rogue snowstorms in London.

It has not been pleasant for the East Indian in me. I normally get cold opening the fridge door and handling ice buckets.

Imagine my horror at having to make it to work in six inches of snow?

This was nothing compared to the tremor felt by the Mayor of London. He declared profoundly, “There’s just too much snow!”

As the snow turned to slippery ice, the local government street cleaning service casually informed me that Spring would arrive before their next supply of grit and salt. And that if I was so worried about slipping, I should buy some salt and save my frozen street myself.

To think a large slice of my income funds these people…

I had to cheer myself up. First, I acquired a hideously expensive, impractically large, black leather Italian designer tote.  Second, I cooked Murgh Masala for a cosy night in.

Murgh Masala is basically the generic Hindi name for chicken curry. Cooked in a myriad different ways, it always hits a spot. I’d bookmarked a great version of it by Maninas that uses readily available fridge and cupboard ingredients. I gave this a go in the comfort of central heating.

Bring on the next Arctic blast.

PS= This recipe was made for chicken on the bone.

PPS= I only needed to add one green chilli to set my belly on fire, but please add more if you are a) brave, b) unimpressed by the potency of your stash.

PPPS= Maninas stresses the importance of frying the onions properly. I whack the flame up high and stir viciously for 15 minutes to brown them quickly without burning them.

Feeds 4-6:

  • 6 large chicken thighs and drumsticks (850gm)
  • 3 medium onions
  • 200gm tinned tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1-3 green finger chillies
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • One tbsp whole cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Slice the onions finely and saute in a large pot with the oil over a high flame. If you stir viciously they should go the perfect shade of pale gold in about 15 minutes.

In between stirring, puree or finely mince the ginger and garlic. Add this to the onions along with the chopped green chilli and fry for another five minutes. If at any stage the ingredients start getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, just add a bit of hot water and scrape off.

Next, chuck in the cinnamon and cardamoms stirring for two minutes and then mix in the turmeric and chilli powders.

Now add the chicken and fry for a few minutes until it goes white all over. Add in the tomatoes, half a cup of hot water and leave to cook on a medium flame stirring every five minutes. The gravy will turn pulpy and dark red while the chicken softens in all those beatiful spices.

In about 30 minutes, the chicken on the drumsticks will start separating from the bone. Open a piece to make sure it is cooked through. If it is, stick the cumin seeds under a medium grill for 10 seconds until you can smell it. Then grind it and stir in the roasted cumin powder and chopped fresh coriander into the curry to finish.

Maninas makes an important point here. The curry will taste much better if you leave it for a few hours and preferably overnight. That goes for most curries. I made enough to feed a friend and then my sister the next day. And boy, is this one recipe that’s going to be a firm favourite in my home.

Serve with hot, freshly made Basmatic rice. It doesn’t need anything else.

21 responses to “Thawing with Murgh Masala”

  1. indosungod says:

    I heard the London snow costs is millions of dollars in lost productivity! The South Indian in me decides to pack up and leave the snow and cold behind every winter but never follows thorugh 🙁

    Nothing like good old Chicken curry to induce the thaw.

  2. notyet100 says:

    yummy,…and yes u r right chicken curry goes well with rice,..even i published chicken curry today…hope dng great..?

  3. Asha says:

    LOL! Yeah, when they showed whole London come to stand still for just 6″ snow, whole Northern US was laughing at the British! But I know how it is in there, it’s dreary everyday but doesn’t snow that much every year.
    We went thru’ -60F wind chill blizzard in Minnesota in 1995, your fingers literally freeze and fall off if you expose them for more than 2 mins and you wouldn’t even know you lost them! Docs announce, if that happens, do wrap them in ice and bring them to hospital and they thaw and sew it up again!!:D
    Be warm. In south, it’s already very warm. Chicken looks yum. I am planning to make Chettinadu chicken but got to do Haryanvi cuisine first and then comes Shivratri!

    Oh yes, some recipes say “add 2 tbsp chilli pd but add more if you want spicier!!” Ahh…!!! Adding 1/2 tsp makes my kids MAD!!:D

  4. tbc says:

    Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to cheer one up, eh? 😀

    Stay warm and take care!

  5. Vani says:

    Loved the mayor’s deeply profound statement! 🙂

    Curry looks delicious! Nothing like a spicy curry for a cold, snowy day! Of course the riducilously expensive bag helps fight the winter blues too! 🙂

  6. takeaways says:

    Hit the spot for me – could not make it to work cos of the snow so made this dish myself.

  7. deeba says:

    Ah darling, can’t wait for the next Arctic blast, & what that’ll do to the next chicken that crosses your path! This one does sound yum & I must be off to explore Maninas soon. As time goes by, I’m pushing my limits on green chilies; now try & nibble one at times too…quite a load of flavour! xoxoxo

  8. Lucie says:

    Haha you didnt tell me about the bag!! I can vouch for the food – perfect for a cosy night in 🙂

  9. Sounds like the perfect “staying in” meal! YUM!

  10. Srivalli says:

    I heard from my friend thats its really bad weather right now!..must have been hard to thaw this..:)…but pic looks great Mallika!

  11. Maninas says:

    Hey, glad you enjoyed Julie’s recipe!

    As for the snow, I totally feel for you. Yes, it’s gorgeous and all that, but I’m crap at dealing with it. I can’t walk on ice and all I want is hibernate.

  12. Elisabeth says:

    Hmnnnnn and hey: roast the cumin seeds under the grill and then grind them? Another hot tip to add to my cautiously-expanding repertoire!

    My girlfriend has just came back from Dharamsala bearing gifts for her girlpals after four months living in the mountains with her small boy and trusty laptop. And one of her grand gifts for me was a round pale pink plastic container with a lid containing all the spices I might need…She did not know I was getting into Indian spices – it was a prescient present!

    Yup, my elder sis in the US could not believe the fuss the UK made about the snow. (Cold, inconvenient – and beautiful). Roll on spring, I can feel it in the air…

  13. sandeepa says:

    It is much better dealt with here but still it is a mess.
    Chicken looks gorgeous

  14. Homecooked says:

    Hmmm….this looks lovely! I make something similar but without gravy. Chicken is always welcome on cold,wintry nights 🙂

  15. Andrew says:

    This looks good! Quick question though, when you’re putting in the cardamom, do you mean to remove the cardamom seeds and put those in or jut put in the whole green and dark cardamoms?


  16. Mallika says:

    Hey Andrew – just chuck the whole stuff in. Much easier and you won’t keep getting bitty little cardamom seeds in your mouth!

  17. Thanks for the recipe, would try this out .

  18. I am not able to stop my mouth from watering. It is such a wonderful recipe.

  19. Bren says:

    This sounds like a great recipe. However, I have a problem that i”m hoping you can help me with. Here in Canada, canned tomatoes do not come with a measurement in grams on the can. Instead, tomatoes here are sold in 28 fluid ounce cans. So, do you know how many ounces I need to use in order to get 200 grams?

    Thank you!

  20. Eleanor says:

    Made this last night for friends – delicious! Thank you so much.

  21. wonderful!!gonna try it this weekend..

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