Shorshe Murgi is a chicken curry with bold Bengali flavors. Aroma of hot green chili peppers, freshly ground mustard and mustard oil intensely speak of Bengali cuisine and this chicken curry has all of them simmering in the post.
Our Spring break is over. It flew by pretty quick and as expected. This year however we are missing the prominent signs of spring. Some trees have bloomed cautiously, but there has been no united burst of colors. Seems like they are unsure, a bit afraid that the blooms might be choked by another cold front. Neither has the temperature warmed up as much. However, there are signs of warming up and it is pleasant enough to enjoy the bright days that we have been having for a week.
It is never easy for me to let the girls go back to school after a break. We ate out a lot, watched some movies, did fun activities and met up with friends. It is going to take all of us a few days to get back to the schedule of the school days.
Shorhse is mustard, and Murgi is Chicken. While this chicken curry is laden with traditional Bengali flavors, this is not something that was ever cooked in my home, or not frequently enough for me to make any memories. After I got married, A kept asking me if I could make a “Bengali Chicken Curry with Mustard Paste“. He cherished the memories of his generous Bengali neighbors sending over this delicious chicken curry, and he kept buzzing about how uniquely beautiful it used to be.
I never made it until one of his uncles visited us and cooked a chicken curry for us with mustard paste! He is not a Bengali, and the though the chicken curry had mustard paste and was really wonderful and different from what I ever had, it seemed like it did not quite taste like the Bengali chicken curry. There was no mustard oil, and the zest and the heat of the green hot pepper went missing.
For a while however I stuck to the recipe that the uncle had made, quite comfortable with it and not willing to venture beyond. But after sometime when the monotone set in, I thought it was time to try the new, and go back to my roots working with the so familiar pungent mustard oil and the paste made with mustard and green chili peppers.
So this recipe evolved. I do not know if this is the traditional way Shorshe Murgi is done. After so many years the taste of the neighbor’s Bengali chicken curry faded away but this was accepted with vigor. There was no comparison with the old; it found a new place in our heart. And it has stayed steady ever since.
Shorshe Murgi: Chicken Cooked in a Zesty Mustard Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
2 lb chicken (I used about 12 skinny drumsticks), bone in and without skin – any kind of chicken pieces may be used.
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder
- 2 tablespoon freshly made ginger paste (or fresh ginger grated)
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste (or grated)
- 3 tablespoon grated onion (use a box grater or pound some chopped onions)
- 2 tablespoon thick yogurt (or Greek yogurt) or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon pure virgin mustard oil (use any cooking oil, if you do not have mustard oil)Mustard Paste: (soak for a while grind the mustard and the peppers together into a paste with a splash of water)
- 3.5 tablespoon mustard seeds (all black, or all yellow or a combination of yellow and black mustard seeds) + about 6 hot green chili peppers
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup oil (pref. mustard oil, but if it is not available or you are not fond of it, use any other oil)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 5 hot green chili pepper, slit (if you need to, remove seeds and membrane to reduce heat)
- 2.5 cups chopped onion (in small pieces)
- 1.5 tablespoon garlic, grated or made into a paste
- 2.5 inch fresh ginger + 2 hot chili peppers, made into a paste (remove seeds and membrane of peppers if you do not like the heat. the flavor of green hot peppers is essential here)
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder/cayenne (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- about 4-5 cups of warm water (or as much as you need depending on the amount of sauce you want)
- 4 tablespoon mustard seed paste (Recipe above)
- 3 tablespoon yogurt (drained thick or Greek yogurt ) or Sour Cream
- some extra hot chili pepper for garnish*Note: Adjust the quantity of fresh hot peppers to taste. The flavor of the peppers play a vital role in this recipe. If you cannot tolerate heat, remove the seeds and membrane of the peppers.
To make the mustard paste, soak the seeds, and the chili peppers for about 30 minutes. Grind it to a thick paste with only a little bit of water.
Wash chicken and pat dry. If the drumsticks are large, make slits in them. Rub in salt, lemon juice and chili powder (ingredients for the first marinade) and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients for the second marinade and add it to the chicken. Toss well for the marinade to coat the chicken pieces. Let it sit for at least a couple of hours; overnight will be better.
When ready to cook, bring the chicken to room temperature if it was refrigerated.
Heat all the oil but a tablespoon (only if you are using pure virgin mustard oil) in a heavy bottomed pan/wok. Add the sugar, lower heat and allow the sugar to melt while constantly stirring. In a short while the sugar will start to caramelize. Watch carefully and do not let it turn dark as this will make the curry bitter. When just about pale brown, add the chopped onions and slowly cook the onions with the caramelizing sugar until the onions turn brown (not dark brown). You will have to do this at low to medium heat, and very carefully. This process imparts the reddish hue to the dish. When the onions brown add the 5 hot chili peppers (slit) and allow then to blister.
Now add the ginger and garlic paste and salt, turmeric and red chili powder and cook at low to medium heat, for about five minutes. When partially done, add the chicken pieces to the pan, if possible, in a single layer. Save the marinade. The chicken pieces should still have some marinade sticking to them. Carefully brown the chicken pieces on all sides, tossing them and turning them over when needed.You will also need to watch the ginger and garlic paste and see that they do not burn, stirring them often. By the time the chicken starts to brown, the ginger and garlic paste should be cooked and the oil will leave the sides of the pan.
Now add the marinade and cook for another ten minutes, until the oil separates from the masala/spice mix in the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
Now add the warm water to the pan, stir everything in, cover it tightly and cook until the chicken is really tender but not falling off the bone yet.
If you feel there is extra water towards the end, uncover and cook and allow the water to evaporate until you have the desired consistency. You may have some extra runny sauce or it might be hugging the chicken pieces with a few spoons extra to mop with the bread or rice. It is entirely up to what you prefer.
When the chicken is done, stir in the mustard paste and some peppers if you wish. Stir in the beaten yogurt or the sour cream and simmer at low heat for not more than five minutes. Over cooking will make the mustard paste turn the curry bitter. Finish off with a tablespoon of mustard oil you had saved earlier (if you were using mustard oil). Stir it in and keep it covered until ready to eat.
Serve over hot white rice (or with flat bread, but it pairs best with rice).
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
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- Chicken Korma
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- Basic Chicken Curry
- Chicken Curry with Tomato and Green Chili Pepper
- Chicken Kolhapuri
- Curried Chicken in Cardamom Infused Coconut Sauce
- Curried Chicken in Cilantro Chili Pepper Sauce
- Dahi Methi Murgh – Chicken Curry in Fenugreek and Yogurt Sauce
- Murg Saagwala: Spinach Chicken
- Murgh Badami: Curried Chicken in Almond Sauce
- Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)
Other interpretations of Shorshe Murgi: