Thursday, December 8, 2011

Akha Murgi (Whole Chicken Curry)

Akha Murgi is a special occasion dish that I grew up eating. It is not a difficult dish to make but does require a little preparation. I got this recipe from my sister and this is my first time making it. It turned out better than expected. The chicken was falling apart tender and moist. The taste was little sweet and savory at the same time. This brings back good old memories.

Traditionally, it was cooked on stove top and heated charcoals were placed on top of the pot to give even heat from top and bottom. Dough from wheat flour is also used, to seal the edges of the pot so that it is air tight and no steam will escape. Technically, it is not a curry because it is prepared without much gravy. It is somewhat in between curry and a roast. I’ve made few changes by using oven for cooking, foil for sealing the pot and made it with a bit more gravy (more like curry) since I’m not preparing many other dishes to accompany this. Serve with some rice, naan and light salad.

Akha Murgi (Whole Chicken Curry)

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 hours to overnight

1 whole skinless chicken – 3 to 4 lbs
1/2 lb baby potato – boiled - divided
3 eggs – boiled and shell removed -divided
Few drops of yellow food coloring
3 tablespoons of clarified butter (ghee) or butter -divided
3 tablespoons of oil -divided
1 1/2 to 2 medium onions – chopped
Whole spices (4 cardamom pods, 2” cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves, 1 star anise, 5 pepper corns)
3 tablespoons of raisins
3 tablespoons of whole cashew nuts

For marinate:
1 inch ginger – peeled and cut in pieces
9 cloves of garlic
4 Thai chilies or 1 Serrano pepper – roughly chopped (adjust to taste)
4 teaspoons cumin seeds – rinsed with water and drained
3 tablespoons white poppy seeds – lightly toasted
10-15 cashew nuts – grind to powder
Few drops of yellow food coloring or few strands of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp of water
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste

  1. Remove any innards from the chicken, rinse with cold water inside out and pat dry with paper towels. Poke the chicken gently with sharp knife in few places. Don’t over poke the chicken as it might fall apart when cooked. Just poke a little, here and there.
  2. In a food processor or blender grind ginger, garlic, chili, cumin and poppy seeds to a fine paste. Transfer the grinded paste to a big pot or container and add the remaining marinate ingredients and adjust according to taste.
  3. Add chicken to the marinate paste, rub all over inside and out with the marinate paste and let it marinate overnight or at least 2 hours in the fridge.
  4. When ready to cook, rub the boiled potatoes and boiled eggs with yellow color. Stuff, 2 to 3 of the potatoes and 1 boiled egg into the cavity of the marinated chicken.  Cross the chicken legs, tie with a string and tug the wings.  If there is chicken neck attached, tug it into the cavity. Tie the whole chicken with one long string, wrapping across few times starting from the legs all the way up to the wings. This will prevent the chicken from falling apart to pieces while cooking. Set this aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Heat an oven proof pot large enough to hold the chicken, on medium high heat and add 1 1/2 tbsp butter and 1 1/2 tbsp oil. When hot, add whole spices and stir. Add chopped onion and pinch of salt and stir. Continue to cook stirring occasionally until onions are slightly brown.
  7. Add the chicken along with marinate paste. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for few minutes. Every few minutes, stir and flip the chicken few times. Do this for about 2 to three times.  If chicken it not oozing out any water, or if it is too dry, add little water.
  8. Once chicken is lightly browned on all sides, seal the pot with aluminum foil, cover with the lid and bake it in the preheated oven, for total 1 hour.
  9. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of butter and sauté raisins and cashew nuts on low heat until cashew nuts are light golden color. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  10. In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and fry the remaining potatoes and 2 boiled eggs till golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towel and keep aside.
  11. After 40 minutes of baking the chicken, remove from oven and add fried raisins, cashew nuts, potatoes and eggs to the pot. Stir once, seal and put back in the oven and continue cooking for the remaining 20 minutes.
  12. Serve with Naan or Paratha, Pulau (rice) and Salad.
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  1. Thank you very much. I made this yesterday, it reminds me of my nanima's akha murgi.. Very good recipe. :) Mushiirah x

  2. Thanks. Done it several times. My friends favourite.


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