Durga Puja is knocking on the door. As a popular Bengali musician, recently pointed out, that "Pet Puja chhara ki ar Durga Puja hoy." Roughly translated, can you celebrate Puja without a gastronomical high. Bengalis are foodies by nature and hence we just need a reason to dig in. We are all set to celebrate Durga Puja this weekend in KC and many other parts of North America. And needless to say, we shall be indulging in a weekend long food fest.

But it also means, that I am away from Kolkata, for another Durga Puja. I am away from enjoying Pandal Hopping with my brother. Another year of not digging into CHICKEN REZALA with my parents at our favorite Mughlai Restaurants.

Rezala , is a rich stew, which is known for its royal roots originating in Kolkata. Legend has it that when Wajed Ali Shah was exiled to Kolkata, his royal chefs, created this aromatic stew. Rezala is popular with both Chicken and Mutton. I am a beef eater, and quite a few Kolkattan restaurants, do serve beef, but I don't think I have seen a Beef Rezala on the menu.

What makes Rezala different ? Its a white stew, flavored with Kewra and rose water, and slow cooks to perfection. Its a labor of love, and worth every minute spent in prep. Its marinated in yogurt, onion-ginger-garlic paste and its a white gravy. It can be compared to a Koram, with the addition of ground almonds, in the gravy. Years earlier I had done a post on Mutton Rezala. Its one of the most tried Recipe Posts on my Blog. If you want to read about it, then Click Here.  

Rezala is an experience which reminds you of Kolkata and its huge Mughlai food history. I cant remember a family trip to a Mughlai restaurant in Kolkata, where one of us didn't order a Rezala. But its something, which also hasn't had a pan Indian presence. Its proudly Kolkattan and we like it that way. There are various styles of biriyani available across India ,but there's just one Rezala, and its from the royal kitchens of Kolkata.

If you are foodie, and you love your protiens, give this a try. I will take the Thank Yous in advance. My picky eater toddler daughter, who generally isnt much of a fan of Indian food, loves her Butter Chicken with an extra shot of cream, but loves her Chicken Rezala, , without anything to add. That's where the success of an entree lies, when it can appeal to everyone, across the board.


Chicken : 1 whole chicken. Skinless. Cut into medium sized pieces. If yo are sing boneless chicken, use chicken thighs.
Onion : 1/2 large - Paste
Ginger :  1 1/2 inches - Paste
Garlic : Half a garlic - Paste
Kewra Essence/Flavoring (available at all Indian grocery stores) : 1 tsp
Rose Water : 1/2 tsp
Dried Red Chilies : 3 to 4
Whole Peppercorns : 2 tsp
Almond Paste /Almond Powder : 3 to 4 tbsp
Ghee/canola Oil
Yogurt : 1 cup
Green Cardamom : 4 to 5
Bay leaves : 3 to 4
Salt : to taste

Procedure :
Marinate the chicken in yogurt, ginger-garlic-onion paste, black pepper powder overnight.

Soak the raw almonds in water for a couple of hours at least.

Before you start cooking, remove the skin of the almonds, by just rubbing them with your fingers. Grind to a fine paste.

In a non stick deep pan , or a dutch oven, heat some Ghee/canola oil on medium heat.

Add in the aromatics- dried red chilies, bay leaves, and green cardamom.

When they crackle, then your oil temperature is just right to introduce the meat.

With a pair of tongs, add in the chicken pieces, to the oil. Let them caramelize lightly on all sides.

Then introduce the rest of the marinate. Season with salt. Cook covered till the chicken is half cooked.

Add in the almond paste , Kewra essence/flavouring, Rose Water, and mix well.

Cover and cook till the chicken is cooked through.

The fat/ghee, should have realeased from the sides. Then you know you are in the right track. I dried up my gravy a bit too much, but you could keep it in between dry and runny.

Serve with Naan for an authentic Kolkattan Mughlai culinary experience.

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