Murgir jhol or Bengali chicken curry recipe: Jhol refers to the runniest form of sauce in Bengali cooking. This chicken curry recipe is all about freshness of ingredients. It does away with everything but the essential. There is no tempering the oil with whole spices, no tomatoes and green chillies, none of the usual spices such as coriander and cumin, and no garnishing with coriander leaves. Which means that the few ingredients that do go in have to be fresh if you would like to achieve the best results.
Ideally, the chicken should be purchased from the market the same day, never frozen. The whole bird should not weigh more than 2 kg, about 1.7 kg after dressing. The meat should be bone-in, of course, preferably from the legs and thighs and not only from the breast. Necks, stomachs, livers and heads are good too.
The chilli paste is freshly ground along with a generous quantity of garlic and a little ginger. The quantity of onions is much less than what would be normally used. This is intentional. Avoid the temptation to use too much onion in this recipe. Because there is not enough onions or spices to give the gravy a body, when the water is added the emulsion breaks and the oil rises to the top giving it its signature red colour.
The yoghurt adds some acidity, but can be skipped too. The whole spices used are ground fresh in a sheel nora right before being added to the korai at the very end. The effect is very different from adding whole spices in the beginning of the cooking process. Finally, we like to finish with a drizzle of a good pungent, unrefined mustard oil. This is an optional step, but one we recommend you try at least once.
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