Handi Murgh curry is made with very few spices and no cream but still manages to have a rich depth of flavour and yields tender bone-in chicken. This home-style curry is best served with rotis/flatbread and a simple side salad.
Truly the dish for days off, when you have the luxury of time. It is not possible to rush this dish without compromising on flavours. Any skipping/altering of steps will definitely give you a chicken curry of some kind but it won’t be this one.
You need to deeply caramelise the onions without browning/burning them. It needs time, patience and a lot of attention. It is what lends colour as well as depth of flavour. Also best to marinate the chicken overnight. It makes a world of difference to your meat when you salt it at least 6-8 hours before cooking. I recommend using bone in chicken thighs and drumsticks broken down into curry-cut sizes. The North Indian/Punjabi style handi murgh curry will be incredibly fragrant thanks to the freshly pounded garlic & ginger, both green and black cardamom.
Because the list of ingredients in this curry are fairly simple, it is important to treat them with greater care. If possible, lightly toast and then grind your coriander powder fresh. Don’t make this curry any spicier – you want to still feel the sweetness that the onions develop from the deep caramelisation.
No single ingredient over shadows another making this a beautifully well-balanced dish. Well worth the time it takes if you ask me. Best served garnished with fresh slivers of ginger – not coriander leaves. This is a great curry to make ahead, the flavours mature really well and make it even more delicious after it has rested for 6-8 hours.
Handi Murgh Curry
- 500 gms Chicken (bone-in, curry cut)
- 3 cups Red Onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup Fresh Tomatoes (roughly pureed)
- 4 Garlic cloves (large, roughly bashed)
- 1 inch Ginger (sliced into thin slivers)
- 2 tbsp Ghee
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4 Black cardamom pods (whole)
- 4 Green cardamom pods (whole)
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ¾ tbsp Coriander powder (use freshly toasted)
- ½ cup Hot water
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Salt (to taste)
- Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Preferably, marinate overnight. But if you can't, marinate as much time before you start cooking as possible.
- In a heavy bottomed pot/kadai, heat the ghee. Add the black/green cardamom, bay leaf and let them sizzle lightly. Add the sliced onions into the pot and season with salt.
- Now this is the most important part – stay close and move/stir the onions regularly. You want to develop a deep rich golden caramelised colour without browning or burning the onions over medium heat. This will take time (nearly 30-40 minutes), patience and will require some attention.
- Once your onions have caramelised, add the tomatoes and cook until pulpy, all the water has evaporated and the ghee starts to leave the sides.
- Add ¾th of the ginger slivers and garlic, fry until the raw smell goes away. Add the coriander powder, sugar and then add the marinated chicken and coat nicely with the mixture, fry on medium flame for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the hot water and cover and cook until the chicken is tender. Remove the large cardamom pods before serving.
- Garnish with fresh ginger slivers. Keep it covered and let it rest for atleast 30 minutes before eating. Serve with naan or steamed rice or pulao.