how can you not smile when you are about to eat dum ka murgh?
I want to share this recipe as it is my favourite chicken dish that uses a technique which the French call confit and we Indians call dum [dum derives from the Persian word 'dum baksh' meaning 'to give breath to' or cooked in its own juices without the addition of any water].
Interestingly, this dish also has some Persian influences. It uses ground sesame seeds, a.k.a. tahini, as a binding agent to hold the yoghurt together, preventing it from splitting.
The original recipe uses ground peanuts, which are grown around that region, but I use ground cashew nuts for the simple reason that cashew nuts are more acceptable than peanuts, a.k.a groundnuts, and many people who cannot tolerate peanuts can eat the cashew nut which, as we all know, isn’t a ‘nut’ as such.
Before you begin, for all the ingredients that you need for a garam masala that goes with poultry, click here.
garam masala for poultry
ingredients – from top, clockwise: salt, oil, 1 kg chicken on the bone cut into small pieces, lemon juice, chopped mint, finely sliced white onions. in the tray, clockwise: garlic paste, ginger paste, green chilli paste, sesame paste, ground cashews, turmeric, poultry garam masala, 2½ cups yoghurt
place garam masala in spice grinder: add cinnamon sticks first (break sticks in half, if necessary)
grind spices until they resemble coarse sand
Add ½ cup polyunsaturated vegetable oil to shallow frying pan
your onions should be sliced evenly lengthways (i.e. from top to bottom, as you would cut an apple)
(See how to slice onions perfectly here.)
place onions in mixing bowl
add ½ teaspoon salt (adding salt to the onions at this stage makes them caramelise better)
mix salt with onions
when oil is hot, add onions to frying pan
fold onions into the oil so that they are thoroughly coated, reduce heat to medium
fold onions regularly
leave the onions to cook, they will turn golden slowly [about 3–5 minutes
the onions start turning golden, keep an eye on them and keep folding so they don’t burn! [about 7–11 minutes
the onions are now caramelising, this happens very quickly
the onions are now perfectly caramelised and the oil starts to separate
gather caramelised onions away from the oil with a spoon
holding caramelised onions with spoon, drain oil
set aside caramelised onions
To watch my short video on caramelising onions, click here
Add 1 tablespoon garlic paste to mixing bowl
Add 1 tablespoon ginger paste to mixing bowl
Add 1½ tablespoons green chilli paste to mixing bowl
Add 1 tablespoon sesame paste (tahini)
add 1½ tablespoons ground cashews and fold
add 1 teaspoon turmeric and fold
add 2 tablespoons poultry garam masala and fold
fold so that it looks like this!
add 1½ tablespoons salt
add yoghurt (full-fat yoghurt, please, just the way the cow made it!)
fold the yoghurt to form a marinade
keep folding until mixture is smooth
add caramelised onions
fold the onions to look like this!
add the chicken pieces to the marinade or ‘masala’!
lightly massage the marinade onto the chicken
….keep marinating until your chicken looks like this!
transfer chicken to cold saucepan making sure chicken mixture will only take up a third of the saucepan’s depth. The remaining ⅔ of the saucepan is needed to circulate steam
Select a shallow frying pan that is large enough for the chicken saucepan to sit in it and place on stove. Heat empty frying pan on high heat
To determine when frying pan is hot enough, drop some tepid water into frying pan – the water should immediately bead and scatter
Place chicken saucepan onto hot frying pan (n.b. the frying pan should have no oil, or water, in it)
Place mixing bowl on saucepan like a ‘lid’. Keep the heat to medium!
Add ½ cup water to mixing bowl ‘lid’. As the frying pan under chicken saucepan transfers heat to the chicken, the heat will also be transferred to the mixing bowl so the water in the mixing bowl will heat up (this is important to create ‘indirect’ heat for the chicken to cook)
The water in the bottom of the mixing bowl
The water in the mixing bowl will turn to steam and disappear, in about 50 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes, at least!! Remember, this is no “curry in a hurry”!!
When the water from the mixing bowl has completely evaporated, your chicken will be perfectly cooked – remove bowl and voilà!
Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ½ cup chopped mint
Place a banana leaf on a plate (if you want!) and serve the chicken on top
dum ka murgh
Cooking chicken, or any other poultry, this way has a number of benefits:
1. The meat is tender and juicy.
2. As there is no water in the dish, it is loaded with flavour.
3. The dish tastes better the next day because it is cooked well, and slowly, in its own juices.
Anah Daata Sukhi Bhava!!!