Of the many ‘lost’ recipes in Bengal, the Dak Bungalow or Dak Bangla Chicken is one that has been revived and revamped in the recent era. This recipe was once part of Colonial Bengal, made by the ‘khansama’ (cook) of Dak Bungalows, for their ‘sahebs’. A Dak Bungalow is the name that was given to British-era rest houses, often visited by British officers. Since most rest houses, or Dak Bungalows had their own cows, goats and hens, it wasn’t difficult to find meat or eggs. It was here that the dish was invented; a simple, no-nonsense and quick Chicken curry, made with minimal spices and ingredients to suit the palate of the Britishers.
This recipe, recently revived by the Anglo-Indian community in Bengal, is now even part of Kolkata’s numerous restaurant menus, and is also often made with meat or mutton.
Though several variations exist, the addition of potatoes, and eggs, forms an essential part of this recipe. It is also, unlike many traditional Bengali recipes, cooked without ‘koshano’; meaning that you do not slow-cook this chicken. Marinate, pressure cook, and viola, you’re done!
Though best enjoyed with dollops of hot, steam rice, and some ‘kancha peyanj’ on the side, the Dak Bungalow Chicken can also be had with rotis, parathas, luchis, etc.
(My camera decided to malfunction today and the pics aren’t what I’d like them to be…so please forgive meeee.)
Dak Bungalow Chicken
- Chicken – 750 gms
- Eggs – 2, boiled
- Potatoes – 4, quartered or halved into semi-large sized pieces
- Onions – 2 large, sliced
- Ginger & Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Tomato paste – 3 tbsp or of 2 tomatoes
- Green chili paste – 1 tsp
- Hung curd – 4 tbsp or 1/2 cup
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 3 to 4
- Cinnamon – 1 large stick
- Black cardamom – 1
- Green cardamom – 3 to 4
- Peppercorns – 5 to 7
- Bay leaf – 2
- Dry red chilies – 3 to 4
- Turmeric powder – 2 tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder – 3 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Coriander powder – 3 tsp
- Sugar – 1/2 tsp
- Coriander – chopped, for garnish
- Mustard oil – 2 tbsp for marination and 4 tbsp for cooking
- Dry roast the garam masala, and when cool, dry grind into a coarse powder.
- Mix the ginger-garlic, tomato and green chili paste and keep half for marination, mixing 2 tbsp of mustard oil in it. Reserve the rest for making curry.
- Wash and drain the chicken off water, place in a large bowl. Make slits all over so the marinade can enter the pieces.
- Rub the reserved marinade paste all over the chicken, stuffing it down the slits. Use half of the ground garam masala and rub it all over the chicken.
- Use a cling wrap and refrigerate chicken for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight if you prefer, or at least for 2 hours.
- Heat a pressure cooker and add the rest of the mustard oil, letting it smoke well.
- Rub turmeric all over the potatoes and eggs, and then fry them until the skin is deeply golden.
- Keep aside, and in the same oil, throw in the bay leaves, red chilies and cumin seeds.
- Now add the sliced onions and some salt. Fry until they have become nice and golden brown.
- Add the reserved ginger-garlic, tomato and green chili paste, frying for a few minutes.
- Take out the marinated chicken and pour in the pieces into the pressure cooker.
- Add the well-beaten curd, salt, turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala and coriander powder, as well as the sugar.
- Add the potatoes too, keeping the eggs aside for later. (You may also boil the potatoes separately and keep aside, but I like my potatoes to taste of the gravy)
- Mix everything well for about 2 to 3 minutes, before adding 2 to 3 cups of water, or until the chicken and potatoes are submerged.
- Give a couple of whistles (2 were enough for me), or until chicken is tender and potatoes are soft.
- The gravy should be nice and runny, but not too thin.
- Garnish with chopped coriander (optional) and serve with rice 🙂