Chicken Chaap is traditionally a Mughlai dish brought to Bengal by the Mughals straight from Awadh. A large portion of Bengal’s traditional non vegetarian Muslim dishes have Awadhi influence on them and thanks to the Mughals for that. A lot of Mughlai dishes got a Bengali twist as the Nawabs moved their headquarter in Murshidabad – fish mingled with rice to form Mahi Pulao, Biriyani got its alu (potato) and Chaap got its special Bengali rich taste with char magaj (melon seeds), posto (poppy seeds) and other spices.
To prepare Chicken Chaap, marination is the key. The longer you marinate it, the juicier and tastier it will become. While, a minimum of 4 to 5 hours of marination is must, overnight marination is highly recommended if you have time. Kolkata Arsalan probably serves the best Chicken Chaap, atleast, the best I had till date. Along with Arsalan, lots of other Muslim-run restaurants in the streets of Kolkata serves this delectable Mughlai dish with pride.
My encounter with Chicken Chaap happened back in 2007, during my stay in Kolkata. It was just after Durga Puja, probably, the day after Vijaya Dashami, me with 2 of my friends visited there for dinner. For me, that was the first time. The restaurant was packed with crowd and so we opted for takeaway. We ordered Mutton Biriyani and Chicken Chaap. There was a huge queue for takeaway and it was already 10-ish. I remember standing and waiting there for long and finally our turn came. We came back home happily with our food and when I had the first bite of Chaap, I realized, it was worth of all the efforts. After that, on several occasions, I had Chicken Chaap – sometimes with biriyani, sometimes with rumali roti or naan.
As I said that the marination is the key for preparing Chicken Chaap, the main ingredients are yogurt, poppy seeds and char magaj. Today, this is probably the 3rd of 4th time I have prepared this dish and every time I cook it, I marinate it overnight. Here’s the recipe for you all.
- 3 chicken whole legs (with thigh), approx 550 gms
- 1/2 cup yogurt, whisked
- 1.5 table-spoon posto dana (poppy seeds)
- 1.5 table-spoon char magaj (melon seeds)
- 10 kaju (cashew nuts)
- 1 whole onion, roughly chopped
- 2 table-spoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tea-spoon shahi garam masala
- 1 tea-spoon red chilli powder
- 1 tea-spoon Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric powder
For Preparing Chaap:
- 4 table-spoon refined oil
- 4 table-spoon ghee
- 1 tea-spoon rose water
- 1 tea-spoon keora water
- few saffron strings soaked in 2 table-spoon warm milk
- salt, according to taste
- Wash the chicken pieces and prick lightly with a fork. Then, put 3-4 gentle slits on both the sides of each chicken pieces so that the marination can penetrate inside. Keep aside.
- Mix posto dana, char magaj and kaju together and blend to a fine paste. Remove and keep aside.
- Also, blend the onion pieces to a fine paste. Remove and keep aside.
- In a large bowl, marinate the chicken pieces with posto-char magaj-kaju paste, onion paste and all the other ingredients mentioned in For Marination section. Cover the bowl and keep overnight in refrigerator. Next day, take it out atleast 1 hour prior cooking and keep in room temperature.
- For preparing Chaap, first, heat oil in a pan large enough to accommodate all the pieces together. Add the chicken pieces (without marination mixture) and shallow fry for 5 minutes on both sides over low to medium flame. Remove and keep aside.
- To the same oil, add ghee and heat. Add all the marination mixture and required salt. Give a proper mix.
- Add chicken pieces and give a quick mix. Cover and cook until chicken pieces are nicely done and fat starts separating from the mixture. Remember to stir in between so that the mixture doesn’t get burned. The entire process should take roughly 20 minutes or so.
- Once the chicken is cooked, open the lid and add keora water, rose water and saffron soaked in milk. Stir and mix well. Cover and cook over low flame for another 3 minutes. Turn off the flame.
- Your Chicken Chaap is ready to be served now.
This dish is best served with Kolkata Style Mutton Biriyani / Chicken Biriyani/Pulao or Rumali Roti/Naan or even with plain roti. Do drop me a comment giving your feedback about this recipe. You can also tag me on Instagram using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks.