~ Mughal Chicken Chengezi~

Before I move onto this fireworks-of-flavour recipe, let me intrigue you with it’s much confused historical birth. Chicken Curry Chengezi is supposedly associated with the great Mongolian Emperor and warrior Ghengiz Khan.

The Mughal Era began in the subcontinent in the 14th century with the emperorship of King Babur. The subcontinent cuisine, now widely known as the Indian cuisine, has always encapsulated art and sophistication in food preparations and hence has captivated numerous food lovers for centuries. When Ghengiz Khan invaded the subcontinent, he was fascinated by the aroma and flavours of various spices, so much so that he had his food cooked in particular ways to fancy his liking. He would ask his chef to fuse together certain spices that he liked most and create something flavoursome. It is said that one day his chef played around with some spices and hence made a curry dish that the King was really pleased with. It was cooked in spices, milk, cream and nuts. This dish was prepared in milk and cream which cut the spicy flavour of the food. It was made with roasted chicken in tomato-based gravy. Today, Ghengiz Khan’s love of Indian food is celebrated with this popular chicken delicacy named after him and is known as “Mughal Chicken Chengezi”. GHENGIZ in Urdu is pronounced CHENGEZI, hence the name.

Although, this history is much debated upon as many say the association with Ghengiz Khan is just a fib but then many others disagree and say it’s authentic. For me personally, as long as the flavour and spices are a a match made in heaven, my blessings are with this Curry.

The subtle gravy made with a handful of Indian spices stood it’s own among the host of spicy Mughlai gravies that followed. Chicken Chengezi primarily comprises rich gravy made of milk and cream with ginger garlic paste, tomato paste, coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and chaat masala. Chicken is first roasted and later cooked with gravy to give it the perfect taste. The gravy is thick, glossy and extremely luscious. The flavours are a bang in your mouth with their subtle fusion, both spicy and sweet.

I always thought the red colour of the dish had something to do with it’s being associated to Ghengiz Khan just as the drink Bloody Marry is associated with Queen Marry who was a ruthless Queen and the drink in her name is Red. Conversely, Ghengiz Khan was also a ruthless Emperor who left untold millions dead during his conquest of Central Asia and China, hence, the red curry. Then again, that’s just my two cents.

Just a note though, the red colour is due to the use of Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder. However, if you do not have it in your spice drawer, don’t worry, just use a pinch of red food colouring and you’ll have a red chicken Chengezi Curry on your plate.

Okay, moving onto the recipe, firstly, the curry is cooked in two parts. The meat is cooked separate than the gravy and then later combined. Don’t worry if you think it will be a long day with this recipe in the kitchen, it won’t be, as the recipe is quite simple and very quick. To those who are allergic to nuts, just omit it, though I can’t promise the same texture or flavour to the gravy but it will be close enough. The first stage is the marination of the meat for atleast two hours and then pan roasting it. The second stage is the gravy which hardly takes 10 minutes to get ready before you add the roasted meat to it. The marriage of the juices from the roasted chicken with the juices of the tomato gravy is simply heaven. At the end, the curry is tempered with some Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder which gives it that dark red colour.

Now if you can’t find one or two ingredients such as Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder than just substitute it with red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, which are more or less the same effect spices.

I was recently reading an excerpt from “the heroes of Olympus” by Rick Riordan, that which this Chengezi recipe reminded me of and it goes as follows;

 ” I could have killed you.”
“Or I could have killed you,” Percy said. 
Jason shrugged. “If there’d been an ocean in Kansas, maybe.”
“I don’t need an ocean—”
“Boys,” Annabeth interrupted, “I’m sure you both would’ve been wonderful at killing each other. But right now, you need some rest.”
“Food first,” Percy said. “Please?

So, it’s always “Food First”, no matter what. As it is said he who has not dined well has not lived well. 

So, I am extremely delighted to share this exquisite recipe with you albeit it’s dark historical birth, the flavours stand out as compared to the usual curries in the Indian cuisine. Trust me when I say this, you won’t be able to stop yourself from stuffing yourself with this gorgeous red curry. 

Servings 4-6

Ingredients –

1 kg Chicken with bone or boneless (preferably with bone)

Marination – 

1 tsp ginger and garlic paste

1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp Red Chilli Powder  (can substitute for cayenne pepper or Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder)

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp fenugreek leaves

1/2 tsp salt

Gravy – 

7 tbsp oil  (divided)

3 red onions chopped

15 cashew nuts

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup tomato puree

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 big bay leaf

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp chaat masala

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup cream

2 green chillies

Coriander to garnish

Tempering – 

3 tbsp oil

Red Chilli Powder

Method – 

  • Mix all the ingredients under the marination and marinate the chicken for atleast 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, pour 2 tbsp of oil in a fry pan and roast fry the chicken until it’s 90% cooked. Roast it until all the water has evaporated and the oil separate from the gravy. It will take around 10-12 minutes.
  • For the gravy, firstly, chop the onions and fry them in 3 tbsp of oil with the cashew nuts and 1 green chilli. Once the onions turn brown take them out and cool them before grinding it into a paste.
  • Now take 2 tbsp of oil and add one big bag leaf in it. Saute it for a minute to release all the flavour and add ginger and garlic paste and saute for another minute. It will splatter a bit so be careful.
  • Add the tomato sauce, add tomato puree and the ketchup. Stir to mix. Add in salt, garam masala and milk. Cover the cooking pot and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Now add the ground onion and cashew paste to the gravy and mix.
  • Add the chaat masala, green chilli and the cream and cook for a minute.
  • Now add the pan roasted chicken along with all the juices to the gravy.
  • Cover and cook for a further 8-10 minutes on low heat.
  • For tempering, take 3 tbsp of oil and heat it. Once the oil is hot add red chilli powder or Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder to the oil and then the heat off immediately. Pour the tempering on the curry.
  • Garnish with coriander and cream.
  • Serve with naan bread or rice.

Happy eating –

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing such an amazing recipe. I have had this but this recipe seems a bit different. I will surely make this and give feedback.

    1. foodboothweb says:
      Yes definitely -- I am sure you will enjoy it -- do send me your feedback -- 🤗

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