Chicken in yogurt sauce, also known as Moorgir Rezala, is an Indian dish that is full of flavor!
Of all the places I’ve traveled, India is one of the most captivating. Stepping off the train in Jaipur, located in Rajasthan, (north eastern India) was like entering the set of
an Indiana Jones movie. The auto rickshaw we picked up at the train station, was open on all sides, and as we clutched our luggage, hats and camera in our free hand our intrepid driver twisted through the streets of Jaipur, narrowly avoiding the sacred cows sitting placidly in the center of the dusty streets. Beautiful women in saffron and paprika colored saris, stood in front of shops, selling their exotic spices. The cacophony of sounds, the sights, the smells, still reverberate within me.
I have tried often to recreate the meals we had in India. The subtle blend of spices, the rich flavors languishing on my tongue. When I was asked if I would like to be one of several bloggers to cook from Rinku Bhattacharya’s cookbook, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, Exploring the Cuisine of Eastern India, I jumped at the chance.
After all, I’d actually travelled throughout India, though not to Bengal. Rinku has a website called Cooking in Westchester. She was raised in Kolkata, India, but has lived for nearly 25 years in the U.S. and currently resides in Westchester, New York.
**Disclaimer. Although I received a free copy of this book, I was not compensated. All opinions stated are my own.
I was excited when I received my copy of her book in the mail. But rather than browse the recipes, I lost myself in the “novel” quality of her book. Half cookbook, half auto-biography, this is just the kind of book I love, stories enveloped in food, intermingled in life…thoughts of cooking, preparing, sharing, and the company we keep when we make those memories.
The first recipe I chose was Chicken in a Creamy Yogurt Sauce, or Moorgir Rezala.
After a quick perusal of the ingredients, I realized I had everything on hand needed to make it. Spencer and I both tasted it at the same time and our reaction was a collective “mmmm!” Neither recipe was particularly time consuming and I’ve noted a few changes I made for those may not have access to an Indian grocery store.
I served the chicken in yogurt sauce with Major Grey’s chutney on the side.
Chicken in Yogurt Sauce
- 2 pounds chicken pieces on the bone, skinned. (I used just thighs)
- 1 tablespoons fresh ginger paste I cheated and used jarred ginger from the produce section of my grocery store
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste ditto
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin-corriander powder I used 1/2 teaspoon each
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper I used 1/2 teaspoons since I was cooking for my kids and didn't want it to be too hot
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- A few bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole garam masala*. I used powdered since that was what I had
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 3 green chilies slit lengthwise. I used milder jalapeños.
- 3 whole dried red chilies
- 3/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
- Preheat oven to 300*F. I found 325* worked better for my oven
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. (I found 325 degrees F. worked better for my oven)
- Combine spices from ginger paste through cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken pieces in an oven proof baking dish, and cover with spices. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Grind cashews into a smooth paste with 3 tablespoons yogurt in a food processor. Add remaining yogurt and pulse until smooth.
- Stir in bay leaves, gram masala, and black peppercorns. Cover chicken pieces with yogurt-cashew mixture. Scatter the red and green chilies on top.
- Cover the casserole highly with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with chopped onions and saffron threads
- Saffron Rice
- 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee ghee is clarified butter, since I hadn't any, I used coconut oil rather than butter, since it has a higher smoking point
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups basmati rice soaked for a bout 30 minutes and drained
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 teaspoons saffron strands
- Heat oil and ghee in a saucepan and add the cardamom pods, cloves cinnamon stick and onion. Stir in sugar and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in rice, salt, yogurt, peas and 2 cups of water and continue cooking on low for an additional 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender and fluffy. Add saffron and check for seasoning. Let rest, covered until ready to serve.
*Bengali garam masala is a combination of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and is a slightly different blend than the powdered version I used.