Dum ka murgh

January 16th, 2013

how can you not smile when you are about to eat dum ka murgh?

I want to share this recipe as it is my favourite chicken dish that uses a technique which the French call confit and we Indians call dum [dum derives from the Persian word ‘dum baksh‘  meaning ‘to give breath to’ or cooked in its own juices without the addition of any water].

Interestingly, this dish also has some Persian influences. It uses ground sesame seeds, a.k.a. tahini, as a binding agent to hold the yoghurt together, preventing it from splitting.

The original recipe uses ground peanuts, which are grown around that region, but I use ground cashew nuts for the simple reason that cashew nuts are more acceptable than peanuts, a.k.a groundnuts, and many people who cannot tolerate peanuts can eat the cashew nut which, as we all know, isn’t a ‘nut’ as such.

Before you begin, for all the ingredients that you need for a garam masala that goes with poultry, click here.


garam masala for poultry

Step 1


ingredients – from top, clockwise: salt, oil, 1 kg chicken on the bone cut into small pieces, lemon juice, chopped mint, finely sliced white onions. in the tray, clockwise: garlic paste, ginger paste, green chilli paste, sesame paste, ground cashews, turmeric, poultry garam masala, 2½ cups yoghurt

Step 2


place garam masala in spice grinder: add cinnamon sticks first (break sticks in half, if necessary)

Step 3


grind spices until they resemble coarse sand

Step 4


Add ½ cup polyunsaturated vegetable oil to shallow frying pan

Step 5


your onions should be sliced evenly lengthways (i.e. from top to bottom, as you would cut an apple)

(See how to slice onions perfectly here.)
Step 6


place onions in mixing bowl

Step 7


add ½ teaspoon salt (adding salt to the onions at this stage makes them caramelise better)

Step 8


mix salt with onions

Step 9


when oil is hot, add onions to frying pan

Step 10


fold onions into the oil so that they are thoroughly coated, reduce heat to medium

Step 11


fold onions regularly

Step 12


leave the onions to cook, they will turn golden slowly [about 3–5 minutes

Step 13


the onions start turning golden, keep an eye on them and keep folding so they don’t burn! [about 7–11 minutes

Step 14


the onions are now caramelising, this happens very quickly

Step 15


the onions are now perfectly caramelised and the oil starts to separate

Step 16


gather caramelised onions away from the oil with a spoon

Step 17


holding caramelised onions with spoon, drain oil

Step 18


set aside caramelised onions

To watch my short video on caramelising onions, click here

Step 19


Add 1 tablespoon garlic paste to mixing bowl

Step 20


Add 1 tablespoon ginger paste to mixing bowl

Step 21


Add 1½ tablespoons green chilli paste to mixing bowl

Step 22


fold mixture

Step 23


Add 1 tablespoon sesame paste (tahini)

Step 24


fold mixture

Step 25


add 1½ tablespoons ground cashews and fold

Step 26


add 1 teaspoon turmeric and fold

Step 27


add 2 tablespoons poultry garam masala and fold

Step 28


fold so that it looks like this!

Step 29


add 1½ tablespoons salt

Step 30


add yoghurt (full-fat yoghurt, please, just the way the cow made it!)

Step 31


fold the yoghurt to form a marinade

Step 32


keep folding until mixture is smooth

Step 33


add caramelised onions

Step 34


fold the onions to look like this!

Step 35


add the chicken pieces to the marinade or ‘masala’!

Step 36


lightly massage the marinade onto the chicken

Step 37


….keep marinating until your chicken looks like this!

Step 38


transfer chicken to cold saucepan making sure chicken mixture will only take up a third of the saucepan’s depth. The remaining ⅔ of the saucepan is needed to circulate steam

Step 39


Select a shallow frying pan that is large enough for the chicken saucepan to sit in it and place on stove. Heat empty frying pan on high heat

Step 40


To determine when frying pan is hot enough, drop some tepid water into frying pan – the water should immediately bead and scatter

Step 41


Place chicken saucepan onto hot frying pan (n.b. the frying pan should have no oil, or water, in it)

Step 42


Place mixing bowl on saucepan like a ‘lid’. Keep the heat to medium!

Step 43


Add ½ cup water to mixing bowl ‘lid’. As the frying pan under chicken saucepan transfers heat to the chicken, the heat will also be transferred to the mixing bowl so the water in the mixing bowl will heat up (this is important to create ‘indirect’ heat for the chicken to cook)

Step 44


The water in the bottom of the mixing bowl

Step 45


The water in the mixing bowl will turn to steam and disappear, in about 50 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes, at least!! Remember, this is no “curry in a hurry”!!

Step 46


When the water from the mixing bowl has completely evaporated, your chicken will be perfectly cooked – remove bowl and voilà!

Step 47


Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ½ cup chopped mint

Step 48


Place a banana leaf on a plate (if you want!) and serve the chicken on top

Step 49


dum ka murgh

Cooking chicken, or any other poultry, this way has a number of  benefits:

1. The meat is tender and juicy.
2. As there is no water in the dish, it is loaded with flavour.
3. The dish tastes better the next day because it is cooked well, and slowly, in its own juices.

Happy cooking!!

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhava!!!

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1 Comments

  1. sheena simpson

    This looks an interesting recipe – I shall try it sometime as its always good to have a new way of cooking chicken.
    Love to you,Meera and Aniruddh and we hope that the new year is treating you well.
    Barry and Sheena

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