A comforting Chicken Curry fortified with chickpeas - tasty, easy to make and full of protein!
You know you love a dish when you make it despite your husbands complaints. When I first started cooking Murgh Cholay my husband would ask me what the chickpeas were doing in his Chicken ka Salan. Being delicious, that's what.
The Not-so-Secret to Good Murgh Cholay
Getting this Chana Chicken recipe just right turned out to be trickier than anticipated. Turns out the problem I was having was that I was using similar ratios of spices for the murgh cholay that I would with a regular chicken salan and that just wasn't right.
You see the chickpeas really soak up flavour and so you need to create a strong spice base otherwise there just is not enough to go around. So don’t be shy about the chilli powder and the green chillies at the end. Just remember when we cook the green chillies a lot of the aggressive heat of the chillies cooks out anyway.
Or should I say all the ingredients except the chickpeas? More on those below.
Let's break the Chana Chicken ingredients down into categories shall we?
Spices: Coriander Powder, Chili Powder, Turmeric, Salt, Cumin Seeds, Garam Masala and Pepper. All pantry spices, nothing too crazy happening here!
Produce: Onion (yellow or red, just not sweet), tomatoes, cilantro/coriander, green chilies, ginger, and garlic.
Chicken: You can use boneless or bone in, works well with both!
Chickpeas: Kabuli and Desi
The two kinds of chickpeas you are most likely to see are Kabuli and Desi (South Asian).
In this Murgh Cholay and in all my Pakistani dishes my preference is to use the smaller variety of chickpeas. The ones in the ethnic aisles of the grocery store are often your best bet. They are smaller, tenderize faster, have thinner skins and absorb more flavour. In a pinch the other variety works too.
Tip: If your canned chickpeas are tough then add the tiniest pinch of baking soda
Step by Murgh Cholay
Step One: Saute them onions until the edges are golden/lightly browned. A little diced green chilli never hurt anyone.
Step Two: Add your garlic and ginger, give it a quick saute, then the tomatoes and spices, and cook on medium high heat covered to soften and meld the masala.
Step Three: Add the chicken and sauté well
Step Four: Add the chickpeas and hot water and simmer
Step Five: Finishing Touches
When the chicken is tender adjust consistency to your liking, add the end masalas, adjust seasoning and garnish with chilies and cilantro.
What to Serve with Murgh Cholay
I actually really like it just on it's own with fresh steaming basmati rice or naan. However, if you are making it for company then here are some menu ideas!
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Murgh Cholay or Chana Chicken
- 1 pound boneless chicken or 1.25-1.5 pounds chicken bone in
- 1 17-19 fl oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed through
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 ½ teaspoon ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 3 green chillies finely sliced
- Take a stockpot sized pot and put it on medium high heat, wait a few minutes, and then add the oil. When the oil is hot then add in the onions and the cumin seeds & cook until the onions start to turn golden brown at the edges. Highly recommend adding one of your green chilies (diced) in at this point.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes and saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder. Cover and keep it on medium high heat and then uncover, the tomatoes should have broken down and become jammy.
- Stir your chicken pieces in and saute until the colour changes.
- Now in goes a cup of hot water, the chickpeas, and a pinch of baking soda (for touch chickpeas), bring it to a boil, and then let it cook covered on low heat for another 25-30 minutes.
- When the chicken is tender then adjust consistency of your gravy by adding water then add the garam masala, the black pepper, the green chillies and cilantro. Cook for 2 minutes then taste and adjust seasoning.