“Chicken Rezala is a traditional East Indian dish especially prepared for special occasions. Chunks of chicken cooked in a creamy white yogurt gravy with incredible flavours. Chicken Rezala is brilliant fragrant, subtle, light, delicate chicken pieces cooked in cashew nut, poppy seeds and yogurt based gravy flavoured with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and dry red chillies. This dish originated in Bengal and is influenced from Mughlai cuisine, rich in taste and flavours.” (source)
I was in school, when I tasted ‘Rezala’ for the first time, it was prepared by my uncle at our home. And it was ‘Mutton Rezala’. What I can remember is that it was a white semi-thick gravy, the mutton pieces were gravy infused, tender, juicy and flavorful. I had that with parotas, the meal was thoroughly enjoyed by me and rest of the family. In Kolkata, rezala is popular at some specific eateries like- Royal, Sabir’s, Nizam’s and Shiraz. This recipe of mine is adapted from my very talented blogger friend Sayantani’s blog. If you have never cooked rezala, you should (read you must) try this. This Rezala is delicately flavored by the whole spices, and has the mild tang of yogurt which is beautifully blended in the richness of cashew and Ittar. It’s a keeper. 🙂
- Chicken- 700g (cut into big pieces, with bone)
- Onion- 2 medium sized
- Ginger paste- 1 tsp
- Garlic- 5-6 fat cloves
- Green chilies- 4-5 (adjust as per your tolerance)
- Thick yogurt- 1 cup (use fresh, don’t use sour yogurt)
- Cashew- 8 (whole)
- Poppy seeds- 2 tsp (wash well using a strainer)
- White pepper powder- A fat pinch
- Nutmeg powder- A fat pinch
- Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp
- Ghee/Clarified butter- 3 tbsp
- Sugar- 1/2 tsp
- Kewra water- Few drops
- Mitha ittar- Few drops
- Warm water- 3/4 cup
- Whole dry red chilies- 3-4
- Cloves- 4-5
- Green cardamoms- 3 (lightly crushed)
- Whole black cardamom- 1 (lightly crushed)
- Cinnamon- 2″ stick
- Mace/Javitri- A small piece
- Black peppercorns- 8-10 (lightly crushed)
Make a smooth paste of onion, garlic and green chilies using your mixer/grinder, keep aside.
Marinate the freshly washed chicken pieces (make it sure that all the extra water has strained from the chicken pieces) with yogurt, onion-garlic-chili paste, ginger paste, white pepper powder and nutmeg powder. Keep aside for 4-5 hours.
You can keep it in the fridge after one hour of marinade, if the weather is warm.
Make a smooth paste of poppy seeds and cashew nuts using your mixer/grinder, keep aside.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan (nonstick preferably). Temper with all the ingredients mentioned ‘ for tempering’. Now add the chicken pieces, don’t add the marinade this time. Mix, cover and cook on medium flame for 10 minutes. Stir in between. Now add the marinade, cover and cook on medium flame. Add cashew paste, salt and water when chicken is half cooked. Cover and cook further until done. Add sugar, cook on low flame for 2-3 minutes more. Add ghee, kewra drops and few drops of mitha ittar. Mix well and remove from heat. Keep the ‘Chicken Rezala’ covered until you are ready to serve. Give this a good and gentle stir just before serving.
Serve hot. You can enjoy this creamy, lip smacking Rezala with parota, puri, roti, naan, roomali roti, tandoori roti whatever you like. Just dig in and Enjoy!