Ask anyone around here who has taken a day off from their strict diet regimen what they would love to have…pat would come the reply…Moghlai! With its characteristic selection of fragrant spices and the richness of almonds and sultanas, Moghlai dishes are the ultimate in terms of luxury and sophistication…no wonder they are the ultimate in indulgence too.
The Murgh-dopiaza as the name suggests uses onions in two ways. Thinly sliced onions are deep fried to a golden colour and ground to a paste and when added to the curry adds an element of mildness and sweetness to it. The sharp punch of the spices added is mellowed down and the gravy becomes richer and thicker. To the end of the cooking process, onion rings are flash fried and added to the curry, enhancing the taste with their mild crispiness on the outside and locked in freshness inside.
New Delhi should be your destination if you want to experience the best of Moghlai cuisine. I had the first taste of it on one of our family vacations to the capital city where my aunt was, way back in the 80’s. We were a big group of cousins who went around the city every day …the rambling Mughal Forts, the spectacular red sandstone mausoleums, the colourful markets of Chandni chowk excited us no end. It was also the perfect time to bond between cousins. We filled our days sightseeing and hogging on street food…the chaats of Bengali market, the kulfis of Karol Bagh…we had them all. An all out Moghlai dining experience, we saved it for our last day in Delhi. Seated in the fairly upscale restaurant for our meal,the menu selection was all too quick as we knew beforehand itself that the place was famous for their moghlai kebabs and dopiazas. The lively chatter and laughter was suddenly hushed by the arrival of the mouthwatering dishes and all hands went straight for the kill. It must have been just some magic (I don’t have any other explanation for it) that happened the next instant…a whole leg of chicken beautifully laid out on the plate took to the sky and just flew over our heads, we tracked its trajectory as it swished over to fall at the feet of the waiter standing to the side of the manager’s table. After a few moments of utter shock, embarrassment and glaring accusing looks at each other, I saw my young cousin sheepishly stand up, head to the manager’s table to return with the wayward chicken leg. No words were spoken as she daintily sat on her seat and placed the chicken leg on her side plate….but soon the palpable silence was broken and there erupted a round of helpless giggles around the table.
Chicken : 500 gms. Cut into medium sized pieces and cleaned well.
C Kashmiri chilli pdr : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
Coriander pdr : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
Cumin/jeera pdr : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric pdr : 1/2 tsp.
Garam masala pdr : 1/2 tsp.
Kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves : 2 tsp.
Ginger – garlic paste : 2 tsps.
Curds : 1/4 cup.
Onions : 1 big, sliced thin ( approx 1 cup sliced onion) + 1 small cut into rings.
Tomato : 1 small, cut into wedges.
Oil to fry.
Salt to taste.
Coriander leaves for garnish.
- In a heavy bottomed vessel, pour oil and keep on high heat.
- Fry the sliced onions crisp. Take care not to burn the onions or they would turn bitter. Fry to a golden colour. Keep aside and when cool, grind them with a little water to a smooth paste.
- Marinate the chicken in curds, salt and half the ginger-garlic paste. Allow the chicken to marinate for atleast half an hr. You can also marinate and keep the chicken in fridge the night before.
- In the same oil that you fried onions, put in the remaining ginger garlic paste and start frying on mild heat.
- As the paste start to get roasted, add the chilli pdr, coriander pdr, jeera, turmeric. Fry 1-2 mts. Frying masalas should be done carefully on mild heat taking care not to burn.Now add the marinated chicken and saute for 5-6 mts on slow fire.
- Add the garam masala pdr and some salt. Go on frying till the masalas turn aromatic. Add a cup of warm water and close the pan and allow the chicken to cook.
- When done, add the onion paste and kasoori methi. Cook for another 3-4 mts and take off gas.
- In another pan pour some oil and bring to high heat. Fry the onion rings for 30 seconds and drain onto a plate. Fry the tomato wedges allowing the skins to blister. Drain onto a plate.
- Garnish the curry with onion rings, tomatoes and some chopped coriander leaves.