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Murgh Masala (Traditional Punjabi Chicken Curry)


2-3 serrano chiles

1 (3") piece ginger, peeled

8-9 large cloves of garlic

4 Tbsps. oil

3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

4-5 black cardamom pods

2 (2") pieces cinnamon or cassia

6-8 whole black peppercorns

6-8 cloves

2-3 small bay leaves

3 Tbsps. ground coriander

2 Tbsps. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne

⅓ tsp. turmeric

4 medium tomatoes minced in food processor

2 (2½ lb.) chickens, skinned and cut into 8 pieces each

1½ tsps. salt

chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

  1. Puree chiles, ginger and garlic together and set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a 6-qt. non-reactive brazier or dutch oven. Add the onions and brown on medium heat till they turn a deep red brown color, being careful not to burn, about 12-15 minutes, adding Tbsp. of water if they begin to burn.

  3. Add the pureed chili, ginger and garlic mixture and brown for 2-3 minutes, adding a little water as needed so as not to burn the paste.

  4. Add the cardamom, cassia, black pepper, cloves and bay leaves, and brown for another minute. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and turmeric. Again, add a little water to create a “masala” base. Continue to brown on medium heat until the water is absorbed into the spice paste.

  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and further brown for 5-6 minutes untii the paste absorbs the liquid from the tomatoes and the paste separates from the oil.

  6. Add the chicken, mix well, browning the chicken pieces as well for 5-7 minutes. Add the salt, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and fork tender.

  7. Serve on a warm platter garnished with cilantro leaves.

Recipe: Neela Paniz

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