Monday, July 01, 2013

Shakuntala's Bengali Chicken Royale -- or picnic murgi


I have been a social media cynic from Day 1. I have cringed at people's need to tweet about their un-washed hair and strut their vacation pics. I have restrained myself from opening up a personal account on Facebook for the sole reason that  on a night with nothing to do I might flood timelines with the million pictures on my hard disk. The temptation is just too much.

However when it comes to the blog and its FB page, the scenario has been very different. As a result of my early cynicism, I did not jump-start on a FB page for my blog, the moment Zuckerburg opened his doors. I stood far with furrowed eyebrows, thinking "What a disaster". Slowly I crawled in, thinking it was one more way to draw some more traffic.

What I got at the end was however far more precious than mere traffic. You know what I got ? Readers who turned into friends. Readers who delighted me with their precious heirloom recipes. Bloggers whom I got to know that much better. And most importantly a whole bunch of like minded people and their support. Though there have been numerous instances I have experienced their friendship, today I will highlight only about my book for which so many came forward to spread the word. There is nothing that I can say to thank you guys enough.

Writing is a solitary affair to begin with.If you are not from a literary circle or eminently famous, it is most likely that real life people around you do not get your need to write; be it a blog or a book. Something which you spend hours on and which gives nothing tangible beyond satisfaction makes little sense to folks who are trying to climb the financial and corporate ladder.Nothing wrong there.That is the real and practical world for most.

And now comes Facebook, which gives you the opportunity to connect with people sharing same passion as yours. Here comes social media bridging the gap, going beyond cliques and cuisines and supporting you. Probably it helps because in a virtual community you choose to see only a part of the life the person shares, the part that resonates with you.

Through it I have found bloggers and readers who are eager to support what I do. Who are ready to pick up my new book and cook a beguni(Cooking with Siri), or a kosha mangsho(Sin-A-Mon tales) or a shorshe dharosh(A Mad Tea Party), or dim kosha(My Diverse Kitchen) or Green Bean Bhorta(When My Soup Came Alive) even if it means going beyond their regular routine.
I have befriended folks, whom I have known only virtually, who have e-mailed or messaged to say if they could help in any way to spread word about the book, who have shared about my book on their timeline and blog, virtual friends like Chandrima who have connected me with broader networks I was not aware about. I am not mentioning every name right now because there are too many and I have the book page for that. In addition I have found fountainhead of knowledge about Bengali food in the likes of Pritha Sen and mentor in authors like Monica Bhide.

And then I have also found many recipes suggested by my lovely friends who started off as a reader of my blog at some point.

Like this Bengali style Chicken Royale from Shakuntala who also blogs in Bengali at Bokom-Bokom. I have adjusted the recipe to my taste and made some changes to the cooking process. While I was marinating the chicken, the husband-man asked if I am making "the Picnic er Murgi".

"What is Picnic er Murgi?", I asked

Turns out every year after Durga Pujo, the boys in his para aka 'hood went on a picnic where their main intention was to imbibe in "you-know-liquid" that was not allowed at home.The only edibles in that Picnic were rice and Murgir Jhol and this is how the Murgi was done, all marinated together and then set to cook on wood fire.The husband-man was the designated cook or so he claims, so he knew everything about the recipe.

Both Shakuntala and D's recipe called for the chicken to be marinated with everything including the Whole Garam masala and tomatoes. The process then involved letting the marinated chicken cook on low heat in a dutch oven(for Shakuntala) or a big black bottomed dekchi(for the husband-man). But I deviated and broke up the steps by first tempering, then adding tomatoes etc.

Now, whether you choose a exotic name like Bengali Chicken Royale or a nostalgic one like "Picnic er Murgi" is upto you. Both ways this is a easy dish with a delicious outcome.

The book page has been updated with many more reviews and interviews from The Indian Express, The New Indian Express, The Hindu Business Line.
While the giveaway deadline at Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen was yesterday, there is a new giveaway announced at Sin-a-Mon tales.

Mandira of Ahaar has announced my book as a giveaway gift on her 7th year blog birthday and I am very proud to be a part of her journey.

Congratulations to the winner of the book giveaway at A Mad Tea Party

Book is now available in stores in India, Flipkart and
For all others  new stock at Amazon on July5th. Order soon and the stocks will be updated.

More details and giveaways announced at the Book Page.

Bengali Chicken Royale or Picnic er Murgi

Chicken ~ 2lb. I had about 8 small sized leg pieces, the organic ones from Costco

I have used fried onion paste to marinate the chicken. You can also use fresh onion paste. I usually chop 2 onions in large chunks, saute them in little oil till soft and translucent, and then make them into a paste which I store. It is easier for me to then use that. Also raw onion paste sometimes tends to get bitter. This way I am sure.

Marinate chicken with
5 tbsp fried onion paste (this will be from one small onion or 1/2 of a big one. Sauteed until soft and then made into a paste)
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp ginger paste
4 green chilli ground or paste(skip if you don't want hot)
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri Mirch
1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder or any Meat Masala
2 tsp Mustard oil
1/4th Cup Yogurt

Marinate for 1 hr or more

When you are ready to cook, throw in about 4 halved small red potatoes(or 1 large quartered) to the above and toss in along with spices and chicken.
Also throw in 1 cup of thinly sliced onion to the above and toss along with everything

Now heat some more oil. Mustard oil preferred. I cooked this dish in 3 Tbsp of Oil but the original recipe had suggested more.

Temper the oil with
1 stick of cinnamon
1 Bay leaf
2 black cardamom
2 Clove
2 dry Red Chilli

Tomato Paste works well in this recipe but you can also add fresh pureed tomato.
This time around I added 1 tbsp tomato ketchup and 1/2 cup pureed tomato If you have canned tomato paste, about 2 Tbsp should be good.

Fry for 2 minutes and then add the marinated chicken along with the potato and onion. Toss everything together at high heat for 2-3 minutes. Cook the chicken with frequent stirring at medium high heat for about 10 minutes.

Now lower the heat, add
about 1/4th cup of chopped coriander, 
6 cloves of garlic, 
4 green chilli slit, 
salt to taste and cover the pan.
At low medium heat let the chicken cook. Remove cover and stir in between. Water will release from the chicken and marinade.
Do not add any water except for a little splash of water, if necessary.
The chicken is usually cooked in about 30 minutes or more. You will see by then the color of the gravy has changed and a thin layer of oil is floating on the top.

Once the chicken is done, remove cover and taste the gravy. Adjust for any spices that is missing.

Serve with slices of red onion and lime.


  1. yummy !!!! m drooling all over it.............

  2. actually I've made loads of friends through twitter...more than facebook page in the end its a question of whatever the end the blog is at the core...Kalyan

    1. Yeah Kalyan, ami Twitter ektu bujhte pari na, mane by the time ami check korchi, so many things on my timeline.Very dynamic

  3. I'm wondering if I can adapt this to a vegetable, potatoes, perhaps? But preferably something not starchy and absorbent.

    When you say "paste works well ..." after the tempering ingredients, are you saying that after tempering, tomato paste/puree has to be added?

    1. Will correct. Tomato paste after tempering. Aloo ?

  4. Ki bhalo dekhacche ... makho makho ... ekhon chicken khete icche korche kintu fridge e maach. :-(

  5. thanks ! was looking for a long time for a recipe like this.

    can u tell me some other uses for fried onion paste, can this be a substitute for freshly fried onion in all dishes ?

    1. No it cannot. It is just onion paste. Fried as I explained means only lightly sauteing the onion and making a paste.

      Fried onions in a dish is completely different

  6. Nice recipe and nicer reviews on the book page :) I'm picking your book soon and will recommend it to a bong friend.

  7. I appreciate your blog post, beautifully expressed and well written.

  8. your posts are really nice. I started reading your blog of late. One of my friend suggested, when she went through my food blog.

  9. Hi Sandeepa... Been to your blog a couple of times when I've wanted some Bengali recipes. Loved your cookbook, I've written about it on my blog here - Book review of Bong Mom's CookBook

    Do check it out!

  10. Yum!! Can I use the same recipe for goat meat ?

  11. A quick one sudeepa. You haven't written about the famous Bengali shinni. How could you do that? So many beautiful memories attached to it. Your blog is incomplete without is inclusion!

    Rupali desai, singapore

  12. Wow! really yummy.

  13. Hi there....Reposting as I am unable to see my earlier post...just wanted to know, how long should I keep it marinated?

  14. Hi, can you please post the recipe of the classic dark Chicken Kosha (Golbari style)?

  15. Hi
    For how long the chicken should be marinated

  16. This is a fabulous recipe. Tried it many times and has always been a hit!
    Can i try the same thing with mutton?


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