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Mughlai Chicken

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

I feel very strongly that you should use the moister brown meat, from the thigh, for this, but if you prefer breast meat, and it's a common preference, that's your choice. I can't pretend to understand it though.

There is a long list of ingredients below - and I am not going to pretend this is the sort of food you can bang out in a moment. One ease-making factor to be borne in mind: not only can it be made in advance, it needs to be; only after a day or two in the fridge does it have the full depth and resonance of flavour.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I feel very strongly that you should use the moister brown meat, from the thigh, for this, but if you prefer breast meat, and it's a common preference, that's your choice. I can't pretend to understand it though.

There is a long list of ingredients below - and I am not going to pretend this is the sort of food you can bang out in a moment. One ease-making factor to be borne in mind: not only can it be made in advance, it needs to be; only after a day or two in the fridge does it have the full depth and resonance of flavour.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Mughlai Chicken
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Serves: 8-10

Metric Cups
  • 2½ centimetres piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli
  • 4 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 125 millilitres water
  • 5 cardamom pods (bruised)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
  • bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1½ kilograms boneless, skinless chicken thighs (each cut in 2)
  • 2 onions
  • 250 millilitres greek yoghurt
  • 250 millilitres chicken stock
  • 125 millilitres double cream
  • 100 grams golden sultanas
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 75 grams flaked almonds (toasted)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh gingerroot (peeled)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried chile
  • 4 tablespoons almond meal
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 cardamom pods (bruised)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
  • bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (each cut in 2)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds (toasted)

Method

  1. Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and chilli into a food processor, and blend to a paste. Add the ground almonds and water, then blend again, and set aside. Traditionally, this would be done with a pestle and mortar, and there's nothing to stop you using those, or a little spice grinder.
  2. Put the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cloves into a small bowl. (Obviously, you don't have to do this, but it saves flitting from cupboard to cupboard looking for the right spices while the oil's spluttering away later.)
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces - in batches so they fry rather than stew - and cook them just long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.
  4. Tip in the bowlful of spices and turn them in the oil. Peel and finely chop the onions, add to the pan of spices, and cook until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently, to avoid them catching. Pour in the blended paste, and cook everything until it begins to colour. Add the yogurt, 125ml / half at a time, stirring it in to make a sauce; then stir in the stock, cream and sultanas.
  5. Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and sprinkle over the garam masala, sugar and salt. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the chicken meat is cooked through.
  6. It's at this stage, that I like to take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool before reheating the next day. So, either now, or when you've reheated it, pour into a serving dish and scatter with the toasted flaked almonds.
  1. Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and chilli into a food processor, and blend to a paste. Add the almond meal and water, then blend again, and set aside. Traditionally, this would be done with a pestle and mortar, and there's nothing to stop you using those, or a little spice grinder.
  2. Put the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cloves into a small bowl. (Obviously, you don't have to do this, but it saves flitting from cupboard to cupboard looking for the right spices while the oil's spluttering away later.)
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces - in batches so they fry rather than stew - and cook them just long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.
  4. Tip in the bowlful of spices and turn them in the oil. Peel and finely chop the onions, add to the pan of spices, and cook until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently, to avoid them catching. Pour in the blended paste, and cook everything until it begins to colour. Add the yogurt, 125ml / half at a time, stirring it in to make a sauce; then stir in the stock, cream and sultanas.
  5. Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and sprinkle over the garam masala, sugar and salt. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the chicken meat is cooked through.
  6. It's at this stage, that I like to take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool before reheating the next day. So, either now, or when you've reheated it, pour into a serving dish and scatter with the toasted slivered almonds.

Additional Information

For gluten free: most garam masalas are gluten free but please check packaging.

Many recipes I came across indicated evaporated milk rather than cream, which makes sense if you're cooking in a hot climate. You could keep this in mind should you open a tub of cream and find it spoiled, but in that case don't bother with the spoonful of sugar.

I love the paleness of golden sultanas, their mellowness and how they merge into the curry later, but the usual brown ones are just fine.

To toast nuts, simply shake them about in a hot dry pan until scorched in parts.

For gluten free: most garam masalas are gluten free but please check packaging.

Many recipes I came across indicated evaporated milk rather than cream, which makes sense if you're cooking in a hot climate. You could keep this in mind should you open a tub of cream and find it spoiled, but in that case don't bother with the spoonful of sugar.

I love the paleness of golden sultanas, their mellowness and how they merge into the curry later, but the usual brown ones are just fine.

To toast nuts, simply shake them about in a hot dry pan until scorched in parts.

Tell us what you think

What 20 Others have said

  • I will be cooking this for Sunday lunch for family - including my food-obsessed French son-in-law (who remembers every meal he has ever eaten) and his own mother who taught him to cook. I had to find something impressive, that neither of them will ever have cooked and not too spicy for sensitive French tastebuds.

    Posted by TheoSimons on 23rd October 2020
  • We made this tonight and had to have a taste before storing it in the fridge in order for the full flavour to develop (as suggested). One of the best curries we had in a long time! I will definitely be making this at out next dinner party!

    Posted by Jolandi on 21st March 2020
  • Brilliant! Just love the flavour. Lots of ingredients, but so well worth it

    Posted by sentara on 19th March 2020
  • This smelled so good, so it was a totally no go to keep it in the fridge until the next day, not to say another day more. Maybe next time, there will definitely be a next time.

    Posted by Clairette on 18th March 2020
  • As mentioned in the opening there are lots of ingredients. I liked that I actually got to use some of those that are not frequently used. Great recipe and will be using as the star at my next theme dinner.

    Posted by colbabe on 17th March 2020
  • I really love this recipe Nigella and have made it many times. The subtlety of flavours is just perfect.

    Posted by BulaBula on 13th March 2020
  • I stumbled upon this recipe purely by chance or was it meant to be I ask myself! Nigella, you inspire me and many others to up their game when in the Kitchen. My therapy is spending time in my country kitchen doing what i love doing most and experimenting. This recipe is just orgasmic and an explosion of flavours, it is enjoyed by my family and friends including my Grandchildren. Thank you.

    Posted by AnjiDix on 25th June 2019
  • Wow, this is amazing. I did shift it a little using a can of coconut milk instead of cream and substituting half the chicken for some carrots, mushrooms and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes. It turned out amazing. Served it with lovely basmati rice. Yummmy.

    Posted by DHolcomb on 31st March 2019
  • HAVE MADE THIS MANY TIMES NOW. WONDERFUL FOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIKE A HOT SPICY CURRY WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.

    Posted by pattimurph on 16th August 2018
  • This is a dinner party staple, delicious, luxurious and fairly straight forward to make.

    Posted by Tumelo on 2nd June 2018
  • I'm gonna try that for sure.... Thanks for the recipe

    Posted by Anonymous3d2y on 2nd June 2018
  • Have made this several times now and frozen in portions. It really is fantastic. East to make and it tastes simply great!

    Posted by ann4spain on 23rd April 2018
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