June 05, 2013
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.
Rezala has its influence from the Mughlai cuisine. Generally made with mutton- (fatty pieces, ribs or chops) with bones (often seena pieces used) cooked in a very fragrant mild white sauce of medium thin consistency; contrasted with some whole dry red chillies floating on top. The dish is highly rich, full of flavours, enticing to the taste buds and the secret of a successful Rezala is the use of homemade sweet yogurt that nicely compliments the dish giving a nice sweet taste. Though Rezala is synonymous with mutton, some also prepare it with chicken. A perfect chicken rezala would have flavoursome gravy with juicy tender chicken pieces which would make your taste buds lingering with a burst of tang.
The Awadhi traditional recipe of Rezala has amazing medley of flavours from the fusion of ghee with curd, garam masala and kewara water. There are various ways of making a Rezala having a number of components mixed together that includes chicken cut into pieces, yogurt, onion paste, ginger and garlic paste, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper corn, green chilli, ghee, raisins, salt and sugar. Chicken Rezala is usually served hot alongside with naan, paratha, tandoori roti or rice.
Chicken Rezala with its exceptional flavour is absolutely divine with not-so-thick off-white gravy having a delicate sweetness in the dish using a little sugar and a faint tanginess from the usage of yogurt. Overall it's a lip-smacking preparation that tastes incredible after a nice blend of spices with pastes of cashew nuts and poppy seeds. Relish your chicken rezala with biryani, pulaos or roomali roti.
The Mughlai influence was reinforced in the Raj era, when Kolkata became the place of refuge for many prominent exiled Nawabs which led to a unique cuisine where hundreds of exiled cooks interspersed their culinary arts into the local population. These highly accomplished cooks came with the knowledge of a very wide range of spices (most notably jafran (saffron) and mace), the extensive use of ghee as a method of cooking, and special ways of marinating meats for making scrumptious dishes like the biryanis, korma and bhuna.
However, in West Bengal, the foods of professional chefs are still the best examples available at restaurants where specialities include Chap (ribs slow cooked on a tawa), Rezala (meat in a thin yogurt and cardamom gravy) and the famous Kathi roll (kebabs in a wrap). The local population absorbed some of the ingredients and techniques into their daily food, resulting in meat-based varieties of many traditional vegetarian dishes, but by and large the foods remained distinct. Whole and ground spices and distinct aroma are the major specialties of Mughlai cuisine. Among various Mughlai foods are the Biryanies, Kebabas (Chicken Malai kebab, Reshmi kebab), Kormas, Pasandas (paneer pasanda), and Pulao are highly delicious and alluring, which are really loved by almost all Indians.
The dishes from the Mughlai cuisine are highly rich in flavour and taste, incorporating of butter rich curries and well flavoured sauces which make the taste buds extremely tempting and appealing. Some of the popular Mughali foods are soups, spicy shorba, roasted meats and kulfis (garnished with rose petals). Cream and milk are two prominent ingredients used in almost all Mughlai dishes.
The invasion of Mughals on India during 16th century brought the introduction of interesting and unusual nuts, fruits and spices into Indian cuisine, thus giving an opportunity to Indians to learn new and unique methods of cooking.
Popular Mughlai recipes
There is various Mughlai food available all over India. Some of the popular dishes are Champ Masala, Chicken biryani, Chicken Tikka, Tandoori chicken, Naan, Shahi Tukra, Falooda and many more.
How to make Chicken Rezala:
Bay leaves - 3 nos
Butter - 2 tbsp
Cardamom - 4 nos
Cashew nut & poppy seed paste- 1 tbsp
Chicken - 500 gms
Cinnamon sticks - 2 nos
Cloves - 4 nos
Curd - 1 cup
Garam masala - 1 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Green chilli - 3 nos
Kewra - few drops
Oil - 2 tbsp
Onion paste - 3 nos
Red chilli - 4 nos
Saffron - ½ gm
Salt - to taste
White pepper powder - 1 tsp
First marinate the chicken with salt, white pepper powder, ginger garlic paste, curd, onion paste. Mix well and rest for 2 to 3 hours.
Heat butter in a pan, add whole garam masala (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves), onion paste, ginger garlic paste and sauté well till the raw flavours are gone.
Add white pepper powder, salt, chopped green chillies, cashew nut and poppy seed paste, curd and the marinated chicken.
Mix well and cook. Add little water once it comes to boil and cover the pan with lid and allow cooking for 30 minutes on slow flame.
Add garam masala, sugar and mix. Cook till chicken is tender.
Heat oil in another pan, add red chilli, onion rings and sprinkle some salt. Cook till onions are browned and pour this into the chicken and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add saffron, mix and switch off the flame.
Chicken rezala is a royal dish simply magical with delicious aroma, delicate subtle flavours, silky texture and alluring the palate. It has exceptional flavours and the cashew nut-poppy seeds gravy with blend of aromatic spices lends a divine zest to this dish. The delicate sweetness in this dish due to the use of sugar and a faint tanginess of yogurt makes this chicken recipe even more delightful. Do try this brilliant recipe and enjoy watching the making of Chicken Rezala at: