Every Bengali family has a favourite Murgir Jhol recipe. I want to say that Murgi, which means the Chicken is the main attraction of this Bengali style Chicken curry called Murgir Jhol! But that would be lying because the star attraction of this dish is the red colour and potato.
What is Jhol?
Jhol is a spice based thin, runny curry prepared by stewing fish, meat, vegetables or eggs. Jhol is almost an everyday affair in Bengali lunch! In Bengal, Macher Jhol and Bhaat ( Fish curry and rice) is a typical Bengali lunch that almost every day cooked in every Bengali home!
A crowd-pleaser dish for Picnic or Feast
Bengali Murgir Jhol plays a significant role in the Bengali picnic lunch menu along with Muchmuche aloo bhaja, Bhaja Muger dal, Bengali garden salad and chutney. Winter is the season for social gathering or activities in Bengal. This is the season of fairs, travel, picnics, and if nothing happened, then a winter feast with friends and family on the roof of someone’s house is a must to celebrate the season!
As a school or college student, when we started learning basic cooking, such as omelette, Dim Pauruti, Chutney, Dim er Jhol, making Murgir Jhol for Picnic was a big deal indeed! Picnic cooking supposed to be fuss-free, and of course, pocket-friendly! So what could be better than Murgir Jhol? As we all know that Chicken cook faster than Mutton and don’t require a longer marination time.
Sunday special or Robibarer Murgir Jhol
Sunday means Mangsho Bhaat ( Meat and Rice)! When fish is a daily affair on the Bengali lunch menu, Pathar Mangsher Jhol cooked in most Bengali houses on Sundays! But, my mother doesn’t cook Mutton. So for us, Murgir Jhol used to be a Sunday special and usually served with steamed rice for lunch, with Roti/ Chapati for dinner, along with lemon wedges and tomato-cucumber to add extra deliciousness.
Potato In Jhol!
It is impossible to find a Jhol recipe without potato. Potato plays a remarkable role in Jhol! The cut of potato changes according to protein.
For Murgir Jhol or Mangshor Jhol, the potato should be cut in half, dusted with salt and turmeric powder and then fried before simmering into the curry! Everyone should get at least one piece of potato along with chicken or mutton pieces! For Maach er Jhol ( Fish curry), the potato should be cut in wedges, for Dim -er Jhol ( Egg curry)in cube pieces.
The reddish colour in Murgir Jhol!
Without the reddish colour, it is not Murgir Jhol! There are a couple of ways you can get this colour. First, of course, you can add extra red chilli powder for the spiciness and colour. But, if your spice tolerance level is not high then, instead of hot chilli powder, you can add Kashmiri red chilli powder and tomato for colour.
What goes in this dish?
Chicken – I prefer bone-in curry pieces for this dish. However, if you live in western countries and don’t get curry pieces readily in your supermarket, you can buy chicken drumsticks and remove the skin.
Potato – Use less starchy potato for curry! Here in Australia, we buy Kestrel potato, Nicola potato.
Spices – Ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chilli are the basic spices used almost in every Bengali curries. Whole Gorom Moshla means green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves used for tempering the oil.
Other flavouring agents – Onion, Ginger, and garlic-are used not only for flavour but also to add texture to the curry.
Tomato- Freshly chopped tomato adds sourness, colour and texture to the curry.
How to make Murgir Jhol!
- Peel the skin of the potatoes, wash and cut them in half, put them into a medium-size mixing bowl, and rub them with salt and ½ tsp turmeric powder. Cut Ginger, garlic into small pieces and put in a blending jar along with green chillies; add a few tablespoons of water to make a smooth paste.
- Next, In a mixing bowl, add chicken pieces, all ground spices, salt, ginger garlic paste and 1 tbsp. of mustard oil. Mix everything well. Cover with a lid and keep in the refrigerator at least for 2 hours.
- Some of you might be stressed from work or have a long day! Don’t stress, because you can marinate the chicken night before, then bring it to room temperature before cooking. Make a large quantity to repeat it at least two times a week. I promise you won’t feel bored.
Cook The Chicken-
- In a dutch oven or a deep cooking pan, heat oil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and add potatoes and cook for few minutes to develop a golden colour on the outside. Then remove from oil.
- Next, add Bay leaf, green cardamoms, cinnamon bark, cloves to the remaining oil and cook for few seconds to extract the flavour from the spices. When you get the aroma from the spices, add finely chopped the onion and sprinkle salt for onion; over medium heat, cook until the onion softens and develops a pink colour.
- 3. At this point, add chopped tomato, sprinkle salt again for tomato, cook the tomato and onion mixture for another 2-3 minutes. After that, add marinated chicken and mix well with the onion-tomato mixture over high heat cook for few minutes and cover with a lid. This process will help to release the moisture from the meat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Then, add potatoes ( if you think the potatoes you are adding, cook fast, add a little later); over medium-high heat, continue cooking until oil is releasing from the mixture. It will take another 10 to 15 mins.
- When the oil is oozing from Masala, add 2-3 cups warm water to the chicken, stir to mix everything, cover with the lid and cook over high heat. When the gravy comes up to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes.
- When you get your desired consistency, sprinkle Gorom Moshla, increase the heat to high, give a quick stir, wait for one final boil, put the lid on and turn off the heat. Give ten to fifteen minutes of resting time before serve.
What to serve with Murgir Jhol?
Roti dipped into the Jhol, and some salad on the side is an excellent dinner option.