Chicken Curry or Murghi ka salan is a staple at the Pakistani dinner table. This particular version is made with a base of onions and tomatoes.
Chicken Curry, Chicken ka Salan or well Murghi ka Salan if we are talking about proper translations is a dinner staple of the Pakistani household. The salan or gravy / curry in English is eaten with rice or roti. It can consist of any meat but with health problems on the rise these days chicken has become far more popular. Compared to red meat it also cooks in less time while being cheaper.
The main ingredients used to make a chicken ka salan are:
Whole spices / sabit garam masala:
Pakistani cooking starts off with cooking whole spices like cumin seeds, black peppercorn, cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, bayleaf and more. These are dry roasted or added in hot oil to release their delicious aroma and flavour. Once the aroma of the spices is obvious it is time to proceed with the recipe.
Onions, tomatoes and/or yoghurt:
The quantity and the way these three ingredients are cooked is the basis of the gravy or salan. It’s not required to add all three but at least one ingredient is necessary.
Flavour, aroma and spice. That’s what the Pakistani spice box is all about. Mostly it’s a combination of coriander, turmeric and red chili powder, but of course there are other spices like cumin, fennel seeds and more too.
The finishing touch:
Fresh coriander or sliced ginger. A dash of powdered garam masala or a sprinkle of kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves). Squeeze of lemon. That last layer of flavour before the dish is ready to eat.
With so many ingredients to experiment with, all households have their version of this dinner staple. Here is one version that I am sharing. The first of many actually because you can’t have the same thing again and again. This is without yoghurt, and thus makes a thicker gravy, that is best enjoyed with naan and chapatti.
Murghi ka Salan | Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon oil
Mixed whole spices or sabit garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 – 8 black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1-2 green chillies
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ - 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- Salt to taste
- 500 grams chicken with bone, cut into pieces
- 1 tomato chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek leaves kasuri methi
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- Coriander for garnish
In a saucepan, heat oil and add mixed whole spices. Saute for about 30 – 45 seconds, and then add onion. Saute and cook until the onion turns golden brown.
Add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Saute for a few seconds and then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and salt. Stir well for a minute.
Add chicken, and cook for a few minutes till colour changes from pink to white, and the chicken is coated in the spices.
Add tomatoes, and crushed coriander seeds. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, till the tomatoes soften. Add water (about ½ - 1 cup), and cover the lid. Cook the chicken till it is tender.
Once the chicken is cooked through, add fenugreek leaves, garam masala and coriander leaves. Stir through and then serve hot.
If more gravy is preferred, increase the quantity of onions and tomatoes, and add a little bit more water.