Don’t let the name mislead you, this dish isn’t really a curry, but a creamy gravy dish with loads of succulent shredded chicken, garnished with cream and boiled eggs. Though a North Indian preparation by far (stories about this being presented in the Lucknowi households are well-known), the Chicken Bharta is an immensely popular dish in Kolkatan restaurants. Rich, creamy and luscious, the Chicken Bharta is an indulgence everyone should invest in, once in a while 😉
The process is said to quite lengthy, originally, and it is believed that the dish originated from restaurant kitchens, where they needed to recycle the leftover tandoori chicken without wasting any. The chicken pieces were shredded and a rich gravy was prepared, topped with boiled eggs and served to hungry patrons..
When I had planned to make this dish, I didn’t know that I’d be unwell today. But in spite of being in considerable pain, I’m glad I managed to produce a tasty end product, even though I am not entirely pleased with the garnish 😦 oh well…
The richness of the gravy comes from the ghee, butter and cream. Also added, are some chopped boiled egg pieces, especially the yolk, that imparts a lovely, velvety texture to the dish. I’ve skipped the butter, and added the cream just for garnish, while using one egg, chopped up, to coat the gravy.
For the Stock:
- Boneless Chicken – 200 gms (I used 2 breast pieces)
- Ginger – 1 tsp, grated
- Green cardamom – 3
- Black cardamom – 1
- Cloves – 3
- Cinnamon – 1 small stick
- Bay leaves – 2 small
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
For the gravy:
- Onion – 1 large, sliced thinly
- Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
- Tomato puree – of 1 small tomato
- Cashew paste – 1 tsp
- Melon seeds/Magaj paste – 1 tbsp
- Curd – 3 tbsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder – 2 tsp
- Turmeric – 1 tsp
- Tandoori or Meat masala – 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Sugar – 1/2 tsp
- Kasuri methi – a handful, crushed
- Boiled eggs – 2, one chopped, rest for garnish
- Cream – 1 tbsp for garnish
- Refined oil/ghee – 2 tbsp
- Wash the chicken and pressure cook or broil it with the garam masala, tied in a small pouch/potli, ghee and salt until tender, but not over cooked.
- Retain the stock.
- Shred the chicken when cooled, into equal sized strips.
- Mix the shredded chicken with some tandoori masala (I didn’t have any so used meat masala)
- Heat a pan and add the refined oil or ghee (I added a mix, half and half of both)
- First, fry the onions until golden and crisp, and retain a teaspoonful for garnish.
- In it, add the ginger garlic and tomato paste, and fry for a couple of minutes, before adding the cashew and magaj paste.
- Keep frying until oil oozes from the masala, and then season with the dry spices.
- Beat the curd well with the sugar and pour it in.
- Mix well and add the chicken, and check salt.
- Now, add the chicken stock, and cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until gravy has reduced and almost dried up.
- Add the chopped up egg, crushed kasuri methi and a dollop of cream before giving it one final stir and serve hot with roti, naan, etc.