During the British Raj a lot of different food started entering the Bengali household. Chicken was one of them which was previously not allowed inside Bengali kitchen. Since the women still refused to cook them at home the rich began employing Bawarchi’s or chefs from other parts of India. The bawarchi bought the nawabi cuisine with them. One of them was Chicken-do-pyaja. With time the ladies of the house started learning from them and added their own twist to the cuisine. The spices became milder and the oil was spared to make it more healthy.
- 2lb chicken cut into medium sized pieces
- 2 onions sliced
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp. ginger paste
- 1 tbsp. garlic paste
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 pinch saffron soaked in 1/4th cup warm milk
- 5 tbsp. ghee (Clarified Butter)
- Dry roast and grind it to make a fine powder of the following
- 1tsp. sahi jeera (Caraway seed)
- 1tsp. white peppercorn
- 3 green cardamom
- 1”cinnamon stick
- 1/4 nutmeg (jaifal)
- 1 leaf of mace ( javitri)
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seed (Sauf or mouri)
- For tempering
- 2 bay leaves
- 1” cinnamon
- 2 cardamom
Marinate chicken with yogurt and ginger garlic paste and allow it to rest for at least 2 hours.
Heat 4tbsp. of ghee in a wide pan and temper it with bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. When the spices start sizzling add sliced onions to it. You can add little sugar to it to make the dish vibrant. Fry onions on medium heat till it turns golden brown. Remove one tbsp. of fried onions from it for garnishing.
Now take the chicken pieces and shake off the marinade from it. Gently slide them into the pan and sear it on high heat. This way you can seal the juice inside the chicken. Sprinkle turmeric and Kashmiri chili powder to it. Keep on frying on medium high heat till oil separates out.
Now add the marinade and sprinkle half of the roasted ground spice powder, salt and sugar over the chicken pieces. Give everything a nice mix and cook it covered till chicken is tender. This gravy will be thick and dry, so If you see any excess moisture put the heat on high and allow it to dry.
Turn off the heat. and transfer it to the serving dish. Garnish with the fried onions you have reserved.
In a separate small pan heat 1tbsp. of ghee and pour the rest of the dry spice powder. When it sizzles pour it over the cooked chicken and immediately close the lid (this is called the tadka). Keep it covered till you serve.
Serve with fried rice, parantha or naan.