Bengali chicken and potato curry

Serves 4 Starters and mains

JOS2022012 D00065 Kolkata Murgheer Jhol



  • 8 skinless, bone-in chicken drumsticks or thigh pieces
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/2tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3tbsp mustard oil or rapeseed oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 4 Bombay/white onions, finely sliced
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely grated, or 2tsp garlic paste
  • 2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated, or 11/2tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2tsp Bengali garam masala (see below)
  • chopped coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)

To serve (optional)

  • freshly boiled rice
  • finely chopped raw onions, to taste
  • a few lime slices
  • green chillies, to taste

Bengali garam masala (makes 2-3tbsp)

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves


Score the chicken pieces three or four times on each side and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes with 1/2tsp turmeric and 1/2tsp salt, mixing well to ensure the potatoes are thoroughly coated.

Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the potatoes and cook for around 2 minutes on each side to lightly brown all over. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 2tbsp oil to the same pan, then add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom pods and dried chillies. Cook until their aromas release, then add the onions, separating the strands by hand as you add them. Add the sugar and caramelise for 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to turn light brown. Add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger, and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle in the chilli powder, ground coriander and cumin, and the remaining turmeric. Stir gently but thoroughly, ensuring every ingredient is mixed in well. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes and 400ml water. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the garam masala and remaining salt, adjusting to taste.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for around 20 more minutes. Remove the lid and check the chicken is cooked through, then remove from the heat and keep covered until ready to serve with a sprinkle of chopped coriander and rice, onions, lime and chillies, if using.

Bengali garam masala

Crush the spices in a pestle and mortar or in a clean coffee grinder to a semi-coarse powder. Store in an airtight jar.

Recipes taken from Kolkata: Recipes from the Heart of Bengal by Rinku Dutt, photography (food) by Steven Joyce (Smith Street Books, £26).
JOS2022012 D00065 Kolkata Murgheer Jhol
Recipes taken from Kolkata: Recipes from the Heart of Bengal by Rinku Dutt, photography (food) by Steven Joyce (Smith Street Books, £26).


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