Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eid Mubarak : Recipe : Murg Mussallam

Eid Mubarak to all my friends, especially my companions from mt Egypt & Dubai sojourns.

I've been terribly remiss about blogging, but there's been so much to see and do in London, that the only thing I seem to have the time for, when I turn on my laptop is to book tickets and pay bills. :)

I check facebook on my phone, when I'm one the move and one of the groups that I belong to - "Chef at Large" had many members posting wonderful photos and recipes of Ramadan specialties.

I was really missing my annual trips to the Ramadan Food Markets in India, whether Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai or Chandni Chowk in Delhi or Charminar in Hyderabad or Juhapura in Ahmedabad and the mouth watering delicacies on offer.

Then I came across a gorgeous picture by Imbesat of KhanPaan of a succulent Murg Mussallam. I have never eaten this dish before, but I think it was one of the first printed recipes I had seen as part of a food advertisement as a child. I forget which product it was for, but they would advertise in the Femina or Eve's Weekly or Readers Digest alternating 2 recipes. Murg Mussallam and another. This dish always intrigued me, but with all the processes involved and the slightly more expensive ingredients (dry fruits etc), I was subtly discouraged from trying this out by the adults at home.

The picture posted by Imbesat, made me sit up and decide to put in more effort at cooking than a stir fry, or quick grill and I decided to make it on Wednesday, when we had a few friends over for dinner. There's no fun cooking an entire chicken if there aren't enough people to share it with. Imbesat was hugely encouraging and on Wednesday morning, I got myself a whole chicken.

She was very clear about skinning the chicken before cooking and since I am in the UK and whole chickens come with the skin on, I had my first experience of skinning one. It wasn't too tough, I just used the kitchen scissors occasionally to negotiate the tricky bits near the joints.

I made a few adjustments to the original authentic recipe. I don't have access to Khuskhus in this country (poppy seeds and all of that) and I decided to roast it in the oven instead of pan frying and then pressure cooking it.

For the original recipe and Imbesat's gorgeous pictures take a look at the original on her blog - Khan Paan My friend Rhea of Euphorhea was so excited, she cooked it the next day itself.

I had to wait until the 15th, before I got around to cooking it. Make no mistake, this dish does involve a lot of time and effort and shouldn't be rushed. But believe me, the kitchen smells so good and the soft succulent meat is so good, that it is worth the effort.

My Edited Recipe:


For Marination
1 Chicken(whole, skinless, about 1kg)
1tbsp Curd
1tbsp Garlic paste
salt to taste

For the Stuffing
4 Eggs(boiled, fried)
A handful or 2 Mixed Nuts
1 Onion (sliced, fried crisp, crushed)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

For the Spice Paste
3 Onions (finely sliced, fried crisp)
2 Onions
1" Ginger
3 pods Garlic- 3 pods
4 cardamom
4 Clove
1" Cinnamon

For Cooking
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Pepper Powder
2 Bay leaves- 2
3-4 tsp ghee / Clarified Butter
100gms curd / greek yoghurt
2-3 tbsp oil- 2-3tblspns
salt to taste

Method :
For Marination
Wash & clean the skinned chicken. (I reserved the skin & used it while cooking for extra flavour and a bit of fat, just added it in the end, before the whole dish went into the oven)
Prick with a fork at regular intervals.
Mix the curd, salt and garlic paste and apply all over the chicken - inside & outside
Let it rest for at least 2 hours. (this is critical)

For the Stuffing
Take a large pan and fry the onions required for the stuffing and the spice paste (if you don't have fried onions kept aside - I always fry up large batches and put them in the fridge, so they are always on hand for topping biryanis or using in masalas)

Boil the eggs, cool and peel them.
The boiled eggs then need to be fried (no batter).
Deep frying is recommended, but I just fried them in the same pan.
Try and make sure the eggs are dry, before you start frying them, otherwise the oil will splatter all around your kitchen.
(I used 8 eggs, so there would be one for everyone at the table, those that didn't fit inside were arranged around the chicken)

In the same pan, fry the dry fruits.
Mix the dry fruits, fried onion, sugar, lemon juice & salt and crush lightly.

Stuff this mixture inside the chicken, with the fried eggs (as many as you can fit and seal the opening with an egg)

While Imbesat recommends frying and browning the chicken on all sides, after stuffing it, I fried my chicken in the same pan, before I stuffed it - made it easier for me to maneuver the chicken, without worrying about bits and pieces falling out.

For the Spice Paste
Roughly chop the onions and ginger, before blending them all into a smooth paste - you can use a mixi / food processor.

For Cooking
Heat the oil in the same pan.
Add the spice paste, Red chilli powder, black pepper powder, salt and bay leaves and saute the mixture until the oil begins to separate.

Lightly mix the curd until smooth and add to this spice mixture, stirring it for another 5 minutes.

For Roasting
Preheat the oven to 180C
Place the Fried/Browned chicken in a Roasting Dish.
Pour the Cooked Spice Mix over the chicken, making sure some of it gets underneath too.
Arrange all the extra eggs and skin (if using) around the chicken and make sure that they are also generously coated with the spice paste.

Imbesat added water before cooking the chicken in the pressure Cooker, I did not add any and came up with a slightly thicker gravy - more suitable for bread and rotis than rice.

Roast in the oven for whatever time is appropriate for the size of your bird. I had to roast mine for about an hour and a half.

Serve hot and slice at the table.

PS: I was in a hurry to serve and couldn't take very good pictures of the finished dish, but trust me, it was absolutely delicious.


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