Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dhone Pata Chicken -- to wrap up the year

Why do you love food ? Because it satisfies you, it gives you pleasure, sheer unadulterated pleasure.

But why do you remember food ? Why do you want to go back to the comfort of dal-chawal even when sushi lures you? Why does cooking and eating a certain something open a floodgate of memories ? Why do dome food remind you of homecoming as no other ?


While some food like alu posto and musuri'r dal remind me of home, a home where I was brought up, there are others which remind me of a home , I made for myself.

Like the Dhone Pata Chicken ( chicken cooked with corriander leaves). This is a chicken dish we would cook almost twice every week, when we first set up home a decade back. So if I was not making my trademark egg curry and dal, D was making this Dhone Pata Chicken. It was very different from any of the bengali chicken dishes my Ma used to make, yet it was hard core Bengali, with its fragrant paanch phoron and dry red chillis. Cooked in a pressure cooker with lots and lots of fresh green corriander leaves, it would fill up the corners of our home with a fragrance that I can never forget.

When I crossed oceans and continents, survived canceled flights and delayed landings into a new country, I remember this dhone pata chicken that I had sitting cross legged on bare, polished wood floor, scraping clean the white china plate kindly given by some good hearted chinese colleague of D's.

For a while after that this was an often cooked chicken dish at our home not only for ourselves but for anyone who cared to drop by. Over the years as I have picked up new cooking skills and new recipes, this dish has been pushed aside, in favor of Chicken casserole or Chicken Korma.Dhone Pata Chicken just never got made because I had something else bookmarked.

To wrap up the year and to welcome the new, I wanted to cook something to remind me where I stand, of what is important to me, to reinstate my faith in what I already have. And what could be better than the fragrance of paanch phoron mingled with fresh corriander to remind me Home is the most important pace to be, bookmarks can always wait.

This lovely dish is light and subtly spiced, no heavy spices or creamy richness mars the dominant flavors of corriander. It is comfort personified in a bowl with some white rice. In the initial days when we cooked this, there was no blender or processor used, everything was just plain chopped. I have made pastes and purees here but you can replace all that by plain simple chopping or coarse pounding using a mortar-pestle

Chicken with Corriander -- DhonePata Chicken

Serving size
I used 2-3lb of a whole small Chicken cut in small pieces. This was good for 4-5 people.
Note: I usually buy whole chicken skinned. So when I say 2-3lb chicken I mean the weight of the chicken with bones et al


Marinate the chicken pieces with
1 tbsp of lime juice,
1 tsp of Mustard Oil
3/4 tbsp of ginger paste,
1 tsp of garlic paste,
and little turmeric
for an hour or two. Note: For a little more spice add a little cumin and corriander powder to the marinade.

In a blender make a paste of
3 cloves of garlic,
1 tbsp of chopped ginger(1 & 1/2" ginger peeled and chopped),
3-4 green chilli,
1/3 cup of chopped coriander leaves,
1 tbsp of water

Start Cooking

Heat about 5-6 tbsp of oil in a Kadhai or saute pan

Add about 1 tsp and little more of Paanch Phoron and 2 cracked dry red chili

When you get the fragrance of the spices add about 1 cup of chopped red onion(sliced in half moon shape). I went ahead and also added about 3 shallots chopped in quarters but that is optional and you can just add some more regular onion. Fry the onion with about 1/2 tsp of sugar till onion is pink and translucent, turning little brown on the edges

Add the ginger-garlic-coriander leaves paste to above and fry for a minute or so

Add finely chopped 1 plump red tomato or just puree the tomato and add to above.Saute till the raw smell from the tomato is gone

Add about 1 tsp of coriander powder and almost 1 tsp of cumin powder. Some Kashmiri Mirch or Paprika gives a nice color so add about 1/2 tsp of that. With a sprinkle of water, fry the masala till it is nicely incorporated with everyting else and the whole thing looks like a brown mess with oil seeping from the edges

Add the chicken pieces and with about 1/4 tsp of turmeric saute the chicken till they turn a nice yellow color. Around 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of chopped green fresh coriander leaves(stalks and all),
salt to taste
and about 1cup of water.
Cover the lid and let the chicken cook. If you want more jhol/gravy then add little more water.

Note: I usually make this chicken in the pressure cooker. After adding the coriander leaves, salt and water in the last step, I let the gravy simmer. Once it starts simmering, I close the pressure cooker lid. My pressure cooker is a Futura brand which doesn't whistle and I have to time it. I usually cook it for approx. 3 minutes at full pressure. The chicken pieces become fall apart soft this way.

Every time you lift the lid this beautiful fragrance will engulf you, so for your own pleasure do that. Else just let the chicken cook. Once it is done garnish with some more fresh coriander leaves and serve with hot white rice. The gravy is usually light and soupy and tastes best with rice or just by itself

Wish you all a Magnificent Year Ahead


  1. Happy New Year! Sandeepa. Wishing you and family the best for the coming year.

    Coriander and chicken together can never go wrong.

  2. Sandeepa, I recently heard about this from a friend who made it for diwali. Now I have to try it. :)
    Happy new year to you and your family!

  3. A very Happy new year to you and your family, dear Sandeepa

  4. wish you a happy, healthy, tasty 2010, dear sandeepa.

  5. Sandeepa,

    Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year.
    Dhane pata diye chicken kakhono try korini, r panch phoron with chicken - this is an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Dear Sandeepa
    Subho Nababarsho sabai-ke
    This recipe is very unique, and will cook certainly and soon.
    Cant think of any non-vege today..
    last night it was "charom attyachar", at Dada's place with charcoal grilled fish, chicken, mutton et al.. ya you guessed it right..I was almost grilling myself on the char coal for 3 hrs, while others were eating happily..
    It was a great family gathering and my 1st new year at home in 21st century.
    Bhalo theko

  7. Lovely post and lovely chicken, Sandeepa. Wishing you and your family all good things in 2010! :)

  8. Happy New Year and chicken looks awesome :)

  9. Hey Sandeepa, thanks for sharing this. was running out of things to do witch chicken.

    Compeletely agree with the food and home connectio though. I began to feel at home at Mumbai once I cooked machher matha diya daal :)

  10. Wishing You and Your Family a Happy New Year 2010!
    The chicken and rice look so tasty!

  11. Happy New Year, Sandeepa!! and I thought I'd take this opportunity to thank you for introducing me to many yummy bong dishes, especially panch phoron which I constantly use in my dals (and will now always be part of our food memories)

  12. Hey Sandeepa, wish you all a wonderful 2010 filled with love, happiness and lots of tasty food!

  13. Nice post as usual, and a pleasure knowing/reading you!

  14. Happy New Year, Sandeepa! :) Hope you have a great year ahead!

  15. Happy New year to you and yours, Sandeepa! Some really fascinating foodie questions in the post..I feel more than anything else, it's the feeling of familiarity that makes a certain food comfort food, plus the fond memories associated with a certain taste, an aroma or a combination of these.

  16. chicken never looked this good.....Happy New Year!

  17. Happy New Year Sandeepa!I love that dish too. I make it at home too. It goes with parata and nun also.

  18. I guess food satisfies our most basic needs which is why the memories of meals long eaten still linger!
    The coriander must lend a very fragrant flavour to this chicken - am going to try this next time I make chicken. And what a coincidence, I ended the year with a chicken dish too :)

    Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year Sandeepa!


  19. Happy New Year Sandeepa. I have wanted to make paanch phoran, this recipe is a wonderful excuse.

  20. WOW, panch phoron aar dhane pata diye chicken..sounds just supaerb, very unique but simple, try kartei habe, Happy new year to you & your family, dear.....

  21. hey Sandeepa...did use the recipe as promised...put it up on the blog and didn't do a 3 Idiots on you :) (assuming you are aware of the controversy)

  22. hello sandeepa,
    wishing you and your family a very fulfilling and healthful 2010!

  23. Thanks everyone for the warm wishes

  24. mmm this is wht i luv about indian food,..simple to cook and yummy to eat...wish u happy new yr 2010...

  25. Hello Sandeepa,
    what a beutifully presented blog on food. I love cooking and keep inviting people so that i can cook something new everytime. but you, you make them look like write so well, and the photograph.. they are amazing... you are an inspiration.... keep cooking!
    all the best.. hope you and your family have a great year ahead!

    Look forward to reading you more. and i am sure you are makng some great pithe for sankranti tomorrow.look forward to those recipe's as well.

  26. i am gng to try this today will let u knw,.:-)thnks for the recipe

  27. tried this and loved it,..have published it today...thnks for the recipe,..

  28. Just love browsing thru your recipes Bong Mom! The chicken looks yummilicious! Want to try this chicken, but I am always in a fix as to what kind of chicken to buy. If I buy the whole fryer chicken it comes in real big chunky pieces and I am real clumsy when it comes to chopping meat. Just can't do it. Any suggestions? Hate using the boneless variety esp for Indian chicken curry. Pls help..

  29. Spice It Up

    I don't know where you are. If in the US, there are small whole chickens called Cornish Hens that you will get at some grocers, they are small and very tasty. Buy those, cutting them is easier than the bigger ones and I absolutely detest cutting too.And the big birds do not taste as good.

    Also if you have a Middle eastern Butcher store nearby, they will cut up chicken in small pieces for you

  30. I have never ever eaten chicken with paanch phoron. I have however used dhone paata as a flavoring agent in chicken curry, just putting a few leaves of it before putting off the heat. But I am going to try this for today's dinner. Hope it tastes good! :)

  31. Hi Sandeepa !

    Really enjoy your blog, importantly how it saves me when I cook. A lot of Bengali recipes havent been documented, it is usually cooked the way the family did it , and then so much is lost in translation, execution etc etc ... Anyways please share with me what's this deal with chicken in US ? They dont taste the way it use to in India and I am tried of trying out different forms or brands ..... ty

  32. hii....i stay alone in delhi...but i make everyday new dish by reading ur blogs....n blv me its all awesome..i think i am a gr8 cook now...n im not missing my mom...

  33. Cooked it and it was lovely ... wonderfully aromatic ... Thanks Sandeepa ! :)

  34. Dear Sandeepa, had bookmarked this for ages, as a matter of fact I have bookmarked most of your blog, made it tonight, ur spot on about the heady aroma that strikes one while cooking, and it was really really nice! I added a tejpata to the phoron and added a dollop of ghee before serving, and my family had a delicious Panchami meal. It was homely,simple yet sumptuous - which just about also sums up your blog.
    Best wishes for Pujo days
    (an ardent long time fan and follower)

  35. This is the first time I tried a recipe from your blog and I really liked it. I have made a note of this in my recipe book for future use. I had very little so added a few soy nuggets too with the chicken and it came out quite good.


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