The name Darbari Chicken speaks for itself. When a dish is titled after the royal durbar of the kings of India, it has to be something special.
A Little History On The Beloved Mughal Dish, Murgh Darbari or Darbari Chicken
Indian cuisine is immense. When we read about the history of India, the cuisine of the nation can claim its rightful place in the books. Indian cuisine ranges from indigenous dishes to Indian versions of dishes from other nations. Since India and Persia had long lasting relations, it is common to find mutual influence in both the nations when it comes to cooking.
When the Mongols settled in India founding the Mughal dynasty, naturally the Indian cooks adjusted their cooking ways. The foreigners due to their terrain and lifestyle, depended heavily on meat. When they defeated the local kings in India, they retained their cooks. Naturally they were a warrior race who did not have the luxury to pay attention to cuisine. But in India, they knew there were the finest cooks fit for a king’s royal meal.
As the archaic times were, some cooks were forced to convert their religion. However this did not affect their cooking habits much. Just the names were changed using words that were more familiar to the Mughals. The celebrated biriyani was just a little shift from the original pulao. Pulao literally means ‘meat mixed with rice’, the father of biriyani. In today’s terminology, pulao is used more widely and pertaining more to vegetarian versions of rice.
In spite of being aggressive religious leaders, one great thing about Mughals was that they appreciated art that was food. Albeit names were modified to suit their colloquial language, good food lived on. The Mughals and their favourite foods became another part of India in time.
Murgh Darbari or Darbari Chicken was a loved dish of the Mughal rulers. History says that that this dish has Persian influence. However, food joins us together no matter where we live in this world. We may brawl over religion and country, but food unites us all.
Royal dishes incorporate some special ingredients but it is not the ingredient only that makes the dish well. For the best taste of meat, it needs to be cooked in a lower flame so that the juices are released and then it gets cooked in its own. It imparts the special flavour. The choice of ingredients is also important and so is the quantity. Before the royal cooks prepare any dish by ghee, they would purify it by their own method of sprinkling water on the hot ghee and removing anything that was released. To see books and learn about royal cuisine, see here.
Murgh Darbari or Darbari Chicken is a rich cream based preparation. The chicken pieces are soft, tender and melt in the mouth in the paste of almonds and cashew. Flavoured with kasuri methi, this a royal treat everyone deserves in the age of democracy.
Recipe for Darbari Chicken
Chicken, cut in small pieces – 1 kg
Curd – 1 cup
Green chilly finely chopped – 2 tsp (or as per taste)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt as per taste
Oil or ghee – 3 to 4 tsp
Onion – 2 cups finely chopped or grated
Ginger – 1 inch grated or crushed
Garlic – 5 cloves finely chopped
Tomato puree or finely sliced / grated tomato – 1 cup
Almond – 10
Cashew – 10
Milk – 3 tsp
Kasoori methi – 1 tsp
Fresh cream – 2 to 3 tsp
Coriander (optional) – as per taste
How to cook
Cut the chicken into small pieces, if possible. This will make it more tender. Marinate the chicken pieces with curd, chilly, turmeric powder and salt. Mix it well. Keep it at least for 15 minutes but the longer you keep the better. Keeping it overnight in the refrigerator would taste best.
Then let us make the white paste. Soak almonds and cashews in 3 tablespoon of milk, take a tablespoon more if needed. Soak for ten minutes. Then in the mixer make a fine paste of it. Keep aside.
In the kadai take 3 to 4 oil or ghee (or a little more if you want it richer). You can also use a combination of both oil and ghee.
In the hot oil or ghee add finely chopped onion. Mix and then add ginger and garlic and fry for two minutes. Add tomato puree or finely chopped or grated tomato. Cook for another two to three minutes.
Keep the flame low and then add the marinated chicken. Mix it well. Cover the chicken. Now you have to cook for 15 minutes. But after 5 minutes, open the cover and turn over the chicken pieces. This will make sure the bottom does not get burned and the chicken gets cooked evenly. Cover it and do the same after five minutes.
Do not add water as the chicken will release its own juice. If it gets too dry, add a few tablespoon of water only then. After 15 minutes, add the cashew almond paste and mix well. Also add the crushed kasuri methi now. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. At last add the cream preferably cook for another one minute. Add finely cut coriander leaves if you want. Your royal Darbari Chicken is ready. Have Murgh Darbari with crispy paratha.
Tip – If you want to enjoy your Murgh Darbari with rice, you may need some gravy. After putting the almond-cashew paste, add milk and water, half cup each. This will make gravy-er.
Have Darbari Chicken with Crispy Paratha
Although your Darbari Murgh would taste great with nan, roti or even pulao, it goes best with crispy white parathas.
Easy recipe for crispy paratha
We have to make a dough with maida. Take 1.5 cup maida and add 2 big teaspoon of ghee. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well. Add lukewarm water and make the dough. You can use milk instead of water for a richer version.
Keep the dough aside for at least 10 minutes. Then make medium sized balls and make like round chapatis. Keep it thin. In a pan heat one tablespoon oil or ghee. Cook paratha in medium low flame. This will make it more crispy. Turn the other side and little oil or ghee if needed. Cook for three to four minutes. Enjoy your warm white crispy parathas with Chicken Darbari. Have a royal dinner tonight.
Image credit: The Little Ferraro Kitchen, Pixabay, youtube