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Chicken Rezala - The Mughlai Influence on Bengali Food

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Chicken Rezala is a dish with very delicate flavours. Chicken rezala is a sensation to Bengali people over decades which actually comes from Mughlai cuisine. Among all Bengali style, Mughlai dishes rezala has its huge fan base . It’s a white chicken gravy made of onion, cashew & poppyseeds paste tempered with onion rings and red chillies.


- Chicken 500 -700 gms use leg & thigh pieces.

- 1/2 cup Curd

- Ginger Garlic Paste

- 10-15 pieces of cashew nut

- 1tbsp poppy seeds

- 10 pieces of melon seeds

- 3 to 4 medium onion

- Cardamom 8-10

- Cinnamon stick – ½ inch

- 1 tbsp white peppercorn

- ½ tbsp shajeera

- ½ tbsp javathri / mace

- ½ tbsp nutmeg powder

- 3 cloves

- 4-5 Kashmiri red chillies

- 2 green chillies

- Salt & Sugar to taste

- Kewra water

Marinate the Chicken

Step 1:

500 -700 gms Chicken (Recommend using leg and thigh pieces)

1/2 cup curd (4-5 tbsp)

Ginger Garlic Paste

Add all the above to the chicken with some salt and marinate it for at least 1 hour, recommended to be marinated for 90 minutes.

Step 2:

Now take 1 tbsp poppy seeds, 15 cashew nuts, and 1 tsp melon seeds (charmagaj in Bengali) in a pan and dry roast it for 2-3 mins. Then transfer it to a bowl and soaked it in water for 15-20 minutes.

Cut 3-4 medium size onion and add it to a pan with water and some drops of oil. Boil the water till the onions are translucent. Cool the same.

Make a fine paste of the Onion, Cashew, Poppy seeds and Melon seeds with some green chillies. Add the paste to the marinated chicken and continue to marinate.

Rezala Masala

Take a pan with 8-10 green cardamoms, 1 tsp whole white peppercorns, 1/2 tsp shahi jeera, 1/2 javitri or mace, 1/8 of nutmeg, 3 cloves, and 1/2 cinnamon stick. Dry roast all the spices. Make a dry powder of the same and keep it for use later.

Preparing the dish

Take a pan and add 3 Tbsp of white oil and 1 Tbsp of ghee. You can cook the entire dish in ghee if you want. Add some dry spices like cardamom, cinnamon and pepper.

Take out only the chicken pieces from the marinate and add them to the pan and shallow fry it on both side for few minutes to give it a nice texture. Add the marinate and let it simmer for 10-12 min with the lid on. Occasionally stir to ensure it does not get stuck to the bottom of the pan.

After 10-12 min, add some dry red chilies and stir. Cook for another 15 min. After 15 min, add salt to taste and mix it well. Then add the rezala masala and cook for 8-10 min without the lid. Stir occasionally to infuse the flavours in the gravy.

After 10 mins add 1 1/2 cup of hot water in it and stir it well. In this time raise heat to medium-high and let the gravy boil. Add 1 tbsp Kewra water and mix it well. Taste and add sugar / salt to balance the sourness of the curd as per taste. Cook for another 5-6 minutes in medium flame and then turn off the heat. Let the gravy rest for 5-7 minutes before you serve them with some Naan or Paratha.

Tempering (Optional)

You can temper the rezala with some onion rings and red chillies in ghee and add it on top as a garnish

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