There is a small story attached to this recipe. While Madhushree and I were discussing about this dish – as a pillow talk (yes, foodie couples also have food as pillow talks. Interesting? May be boring for few), she admitted that in her childhood when she had the heard the name of the dish, she always mistook Murg Irani as Murgi Rani (The chicken queen).
How many of you have heard about a West Indian cricketer and wicket keeper called Jeffrey Dujon? He was a key member of the invincible West Indies team of 70s and early 80s. In my growing up years, I always used to get fooled by the name Dujon as it means ‘two people’ in Bengali and could not relate to the fact that how come two people are standing as wicketkeeper.
The location of Iran makes its cuisine so interesting. Three post soviet states Armenia, Azarbaijan and Turkmenistan is in the northern boundary, the Persian gulf and Gulf of Oman form the southern borders, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east and Turkey and Iraq in the west. What comes to your mind in terms of food when you read the names of these countries? In addition, like every other invasion in the history, the cuisine also got influenced by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Uzbeks and not to forget, the Greek Invasion by Alexander the Great in 4th century.
Kolkata has a strong connection with Iran too as one of the most popular dishes in city which has become synonymous with Peter Cat is an Iranian dish. Chelo Kebab and folklore is what keeps Peter Cat alive these days. The musty smell, high handedness of waiters, the decade old upholstery has not done any good to the place but that’s the fun of the cult places, where all the flaws are ignored for one plate of melting butter in the rice with two kebabs grilled on skewer, grilled tomatoes and capsicum.
As we have already added Iran as one of the countries to visit in our long bucket list, I think I will silently pay a visit to Peter cat also. It has been some time that I have experienced how time stops while butter melts.
However, this post is not about chelo kebab, but a recipe called Murg Irani, which was very popular recipe in Madhushree’s household and was specialized by one of her aunts. So here it goes…
A little note before I begin with the recipe and the cuisine. Iranian cuisine, like Indian cuisine banks a lot on spices. However, unlike Indian cuisine, the use of spices is mostly in marination, or in very mild way to accentuate the taste of the ingredient itself. Instead of a blend of different spices, they always have a ruling spice to guide the taste of the food. Spices mostly used are cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, sumac, turmeric, saffron etc. The use of lemon is also pretty common in almost everything. Iranian food also usually has an inclusion of some herbs like parsley, dill, coriander, mint etc. Dry fruits are also an integral part of the cuisine in the area.
I am not sure whether his recipe is authentic or not. It was given to me by one of my aunts and was a very popular dish in our household. It does have the spices mostly used in Persian cooking and is a mild dish.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Marination: 2 – 3 hours or more
Cooking time: 20- 25 minutes
|Chicken Curry Cut||1 kg||Yogurt||½ cup|
|Garlic Paste||2 tbsp||Ginger Paste||1 ½ tbsp|
|Red Chili Powder||1 tbsp||Onions||2 medium, finely sliced|
|Black Cardamom||1||Green Chili (optional)||2 nos|
|Saffron||1 pinch||Cashew Paste||3 tbsp|
|Salt||To Taste||Butter||2 tbsp|
|Kewda water (optional)||1 tsp||Any white Oil||1 tbsp|
- Marinate the chicken pieces with yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, red chili powder and saffron and keep it for 2 hours or more if you desire.
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat the butter and white oil and add one black cardamom after smashing it a bit with any weight.
- Once there is fragrance from the cardamom, add the sliced onion and sauté them. Let the onions become translucent and then add the marinated chicken.
- Add salt and let the chicken roast in high heat for about 5 minutes.
- After there is some colour on the chicken, lower the heat and cover and cook.
- Remove the lid and stir from time to time so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. However, you will notice that the chicken will release water and let the chicken cook in its own juices without adding any extra water.
- When the chicken is half done, add the cashew paste and a couple of slit green chilies (the green chilies are my addition since I like the flavour), stir it all around and cover and cook till the chicken is done.
- Finally add a bit of kewra water. You can leave this out if you do not like the fragrance of kewra water. Increase or decrease the heat depending upon the consistency of the gravy that you desire.
- Serve with some naan or hot rice.