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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shahi Murgh Musallam

IMG_9969This is a food fit for the kings. A murgh or chicken is stuffed with fragrant Basmati rice, eggs, spices and cooked in a rich gravy. Generally served in elaborate banquets for the royals.

This originated in Pakistan and found it’s way into Bangladeshi (then East Pakistan) cuisine. I have heard that my grandma used to make this. I did not have the good fortune of having it from her. I learned this recipe from my Aunt (thanks to Vonage :)). Even though the recipe sounded intimidating and complex, it turned out pretty simple to make.

Murgh musallam is best made with small chickens. In the US it is kind of hard to come by and hence I use Cornish Game Hen. I get it from my local Whole Foods store.

NOTE: This needs 12 hour marination

Special Equipment

Wide pan that can accommodate the Whole chicken.

Ingredients For Chicken and Stuffing

  • 1 whole gutted chicken weighing about 600gms. Without feather and skin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 4 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup Basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  • 1 hard boiled egg shelled
  • 1 pinch saffron strands soaked in warm milk
  • 1 tsp. ghee (clarified butter)

Procedure To stuff the Chicken

Wash the chicken and pat it really dry.

Now with a sharp knife make deep incisions over thigh, drumsticks and breast part. Make some gashes on the joints as well. These incisions will help to cook the chicken
evenly and faster.

Marinate the chicken with yogurt, lime juice, turmeric powder, chili powder and salt. Make sure that you put the marinade from the inside of the stomach as well. Keep it marinated in refrigerator over night.

Next day take out chicken at least half an hour before you start cooking. Mean while cook the rice till it is 90% done. Remove half cup of rice from the pan and cook rest of the rice till it is fully cooked.

Transfer the 90% cooked rice in a mixing bowl and one by one add salt, ghee, saffron infused milk and garam masala powder to it. Mix it gently with the rice so that the rice grains don’t break. Keep it aside.

Now take the marinated chicken and stuff one egg along with the spice smeared rice inside its belly.

With a needle and thread carefully sew the opening.

Heat about 10-12 tbsp. of oil in a flat pan and fry the whole stuffed chicken on medium heat till all sides turn golden brown. It takes about 10-15 minutes. Remove the chicken on a paper towel.


With the rest of the rice make saffron rice to serve with Murg Musallam.

Ingredients For Gravy

  • 2 medium onions boiled and made into a fine paste
  • 5 baby potatoes peeled
  • 4 black cardamom 
  • 2 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seed paste
  • 2 tbsp. cashew paste
  • 2 tbsp. rose water
  • 1 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  • 4 tbsp. ghee ( Clarified Butter )
  • Salt to taste


Heat ghee in a wide pan till it melts. Add black cardamom and wait till it stops spluttering. Add potatoes and fry till they are golden yellow.

Add boiled onion paste along with ginger garlic paste and fry on low heat till oil starts oozing out from the sides.

Sprinkle red chili powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Stir in well. Now turn off the heat and let the spice mixture cool down a bit. Pour yogurt and mix well with rest of the spices before you turn on the heat again. Add cashew, poppy seed paste, salt and rose water and give a nice mix.

Now gently add the fried chicken to it and apply the spice mixture all over it with a spoon. Cook it covered on medium heat for 10 minutes before you flip the chicken over. Cook the other side for another 10minutes. By this time both chicken and potatoes will be nicely cooked.

Gently cut the stitches and remove the thread.

Pour the gravy on a serving plate and carefully place the stuffed chicken over it. Line up the potatoes and serve with saffron rice.



Sara said...

this looks like a fantastic recipe. i want try it out asap, the only hurdle being that we do not get poppy seeds here in uae as these are banned. what would be the best substitute for them in your recipe?

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

@Sara, you can use cashew powder instead of poppy seeds.

Rashi said...

I tried this recipe yesterday, it is awesome...just included sugar and kishmish for a sweeter taste. Thanks for sharing the same

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

Thank u Rashi, for your feedback..

Anonymous said...

use mustard seeds instead