Murgir Jhol – Bengali chicken curry

I am still on the movie subject. People go to a masala movie and complain that it’s just masala. People go to a movie with a solid script and fret that it is slow. They go to a movie like 2.0 and tut-tut that it’s too absurd (the very same ones who rave about the transformer series). They’re disappointed that gangster movie A does not have all the elements of gangster movie B, different story notwithstanding. All of them will claim that they thoroughly enjoyed “Inception”.

Murghir Jhol

I am surprised that people do not employ simple everyday logic in movie criticism.

  • A movie is what it is. Take it as it is. Do not ask for Nasi Goreng in Saravana Bhavan. Don’t complain that the sushi place has very few vegetarian options. They are what they are. A masala movie cannot be an art movie, an animation movie and a “Hey Ram”.
  • Comparing movies and expecting one to be the same as the other is dumb. If it’s the same, it’s a copy. Every gangster movie need not be like “Godfather”. Let me say it. I wasn’t as taken by “Godfather” as the rest of the world. Just my opinion. See I am not comparing “Godfather” to “Billa” or “Basha”.
  • That Hollywood movies are by default the better, superior versions – I refuse to accept.
  • Nitpicking little details in the movie and taking offence is absolutely ridiculous.

I cannot imagine what people would do in a Karan Johar movie? I suppose they’d do the reverse of what they do in a regular movie – sit in for the songs and go out to smoke the rest of the movie.

Enough about movies. Let’s move on to food.

I am drawn to Bengali food the way I’ve been drawn to Kerala food. I’ve never eaten Bengali food before. I just know I’ll like it. I stocked up my pantry with Nigella seeds and mustard oil. I’ve been reading about Aloo Posto, Murgir Jhol, Chana bhapa.. I am smitten.

Murghir Jhol

I started with Murgir Jhol. It seemed like just the kind of thing to make for a Sunday lunch. I was weary of Sunday biryanis.  Also my last couple of experimental biryanis did not turn out too well. I was wincing from that memory and I wanted to take some time out from biryani until we could both reconcile. As much as a Sunday routine lunch is comforting and convenient, it’s also a sign of inertia and a lack of curiosity. I also want to have more options in my back pocket when I am planning a dinner menu. So I plan to start a series dedicated to just Sunday lunches.

Murghir Jhol

This Murghir Jhol will be the first in the series of Sunday lunches. Murghir Jhol is a Bengali chicken curry – a hot, flavor-bursting thin curry that has all the good stuff – fried potatoes, cooked to soft tenderness along with the marinated chicken in a mustard oil laced broth. It’s the kind of light, yet flavour packed curry that I love to spoon over basmati rice. I made a pot of basmati rice to go with this Murghir Jhol. I loved the combination. To take everything to the next level, there’s one thing you can always do. That is to add a fried egg to the meal. Always, always works. Let me know if you make this Murgir Jhol for your Sunday lunch!

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Murgir Jhol - Bengali chicken curry!
Murghir Jhol is a Bengali chicken curry - a hot, flavor-bursting thin curry that has all the good stuff – fried potatoes, cooked to soft tenderness along with the marinated chicken in a mustard oil laced broth.
  1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and mix well. Clean chicken well and pat dry. Add to the marinade and rub well with your hands. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  2. Heat a kadai and add mustard oil. When the oil turns hot, add the potatoes and fry until they turn golden. Remove the fried potatoes on to a plate.
  3. To the same kadai add the whole spices and wait till they turn fragrant. Add the whole dry red chillies and fry for a minute. Add the sliced onions, salt and sugar and fry until they turn golden. Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the marinade. Pour the tomato puree and 4 cups hot water. Throw in the chopped green chillies. Drop in the fried potatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to minimum, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are fork tender. Switch off. Serve hot with steamed basmati rice. Dig in!
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