Chicken Rezala

1:25 PM

To be a mother of two is a tiring job to say the least. back breaking, head banging, hair tearing and maddening too. I know you will say its a beautiful feeling, to which I wholeheartedly agree...but being a mom of two, me at times its just way too much to handle. Add to that the unbearable heat and humidity in Kolkata (40-42C) and a 'never there when you need' house help.

I often find myself telling others that raising the second kid is way more difficult than the first one. Its not only the works are double but Making the elder one comfortable around the kid without making him feeling neglected is a real task. not to say doing everything while taking care of a baby who constantly needs your attention. 

Its a constant battle for me to keep the son entertained and the daughter in her playful mood. Some days are good and other days I chant Hanuman Chalisa under clenched teeth. The constant running around, crafting, playing, singing, cooking, feeding and the daily chores drain out all my energy. By the time its evening my head starts to spin and ears start to buzz. So once Hubby is home and is refreshed I hand over the kids to him and enter the bathroom. Shut the door and just sit there for 15 minutes. Trust me I just sit there to relax myself, to give my ears and brain some moments of respite. The silence, the tranquility of those moments are really therapeutic, and thats the luxury that a mother of two can afford.

But thank God it finally rained today. With the temperature coming down a little bit I have got the courage to post this recipe for Chicken Rezala. A very famous Awadhi dish mainly available in and around Kolkata. While growing up my Foodie uncle often told us stories of the famous restaurants serving Mughlai cuisine. For him Sabir's chicken Rezala, Shiraz's Biriyani and the rolls, kebabs, chanps, curries of Aminia, Nizam and Royal India made Kolkata a must visit place. I could not back his thoughts then but now I believe he was right. These iconic restaurants from ages are nonchalantly dishing out food that make Kolkata's Culinary scenario so exciting. 

The Rezala for instance is a so called white gravy dish yet has so much of complex flavours and layers of taste. Its pale white semi thick gravy is smooth like silk and glides through your tastebud without being heavy. Its rich, its creamy, it has that perfect balance of sweetness to heat. Add to that the juicy succulent pieces of meat. Tearing your bread and soaking it in this milky gravy is a pleasure in itself. If you have not done that yet I request you to try this recipe that I have developed after many a trial and error.

I have seen many in the blogosphere cook the chicken rezala in Pressure cooker but I dont prefer that mode for cooking chicken. It hardly takes any time to cook once you have got all your ingredients at place and I dont think the people in the restaurants use the short cut. Still if you are not convinced follow the pressure cooker route.

Chicken Rezala
Source: minimally adapted from a show called Just Ranna

Chicken: 500-600 gms (cut in big pieces. say 5-6 pieces)
Onion: 2 medium
Ginger: 1"piece
Garlic: 3-4 fat cloves
Thick yogurt: 1 cup (see notes)
Cashew: 5-6 (whole)
Poppy seeds: 1/2 tsp

Whole dry chilies: 3-4
Whole clove: 4-5
Whole green cardamom: 2
Whole black cardamom: 1
Cinnamon: 2" stick
Mace: little
Peppercorns : 6-8
Nutmeg powder: fat pinch

Oil: 3 tbsp
Ghee: 3 tbsp
Pepper powder: 1/3 tsp or as per taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Kewra water: few drops (see Here)
Mitha ittar: few drops (see Here)

Wash and drain all the water from the chicken.
Peel, chop and grind the onion-ginger-garlic to a smooth paste. (very important to make it smooth)
Soak the cashew and make a amooth paste with poppy seeds.
Beat the yogurt till smooth and add to the chicken, along with the spice paste, salt, nutmeg powder and pepper powder. Mix and keep aside at least for an hour. est if you can marinate it for 4-5 hours.

Once you are ready to cook Heat the oil and ghee. Lightly pound (just one or two stroke for the pods to open and release more aroma) the whole spices and add to the oil. Let it sizzle and  fill up your kitchen with lovely aroma. Shake off the marinate from the chicken and arrange them on the pan, preferably in single layer. on medium heat seal the chicken and cook till all sides turn white. Now pour in all the marinade and mix. 

Cook for 8-10 minutes and the add the poppy seeds paste. cook for a minute and pour 3/4 cup warm water. Check the seasoning and cover. Let it simmer on low heat till oil starts to float on top and the chicken is cooked through.

Uncover and add the sugar, keowra water and mitha Ittar. Keep covered till you are ready to serve.

Serve hot with hot Naan/ Tandoori roti/ or fulka/chapathi. 

Make sure to stir the pot before serving .

A Homemaker's Notes:
Use fresh not so sour yogurt for best result. I use homemade yogurt set with Cow milk. 

You can also blend a green chili or two with onion.

For regular eating this is one amazing dish. You dont have to do much and its healthier if you lessen the amount of fat used in it. just use 3 tbsp of oil and ghee mixture.

This recipe works really well with paneer and sturdy veggies like potatoes and cauliflowers.

You Might Also Like


  1. What is meetha ittar? Can you post a picture of the bottle you have and where you procured it from?

  2. Mith attar or Meetha Ittar is a flavouring agent widely used in Awadhi and mughlai cuisine. I have added a link where you can see the kind of bottle we use. its widely available in Kolkata. I guess all the leading shopping malls in the metroes will stock it.

  3. Uff...mouthwatering looks so good...some hot naan and that curry would taste so heavenly

  4. You are a busy mom Sayantani, with two kids around can guess how you will be running here and there.. Btw Chicken rezala is just asking me to clean up the bowl with some rotis.

  5. Sayantani i admire your passion for this blog, and its a pleasure reading your stories and recipes :) the first time i tried rezala, kewra ta over powering hoye you think it would be good to dilute it with some warm water and use ?

  6. thank you Sulagna for the comment. Kewra or for that matter any essence is very concentrated. use just a few drops. If you are cooking 500 gms of meat only 2-3 drops are enough. I never use it by diluting. If you think its a good idea, you can do that. always remember less is more in this case and you ca always add more but cant take out. so start by a couple of drops, stir and check. if needed add more.

  7. I made this last night for a very small gathering, was yummy!!! I made a kilo of chicken and used the same amount of oil/ghee and solid spices as stated (ie didn't double it) and it was just fine. I increased the cashew quantity though. I didn't have any mithai ittar but it tasted wonderful anyway. Garnished it with chopped red chilli for a splash of color in the pot. yum! thanks. Will be a firm fav for my parties from now on.

  8. Could you please tell me what are pepper pods used in this recipe, other than the green & black cardamom pods.


  9. Please clarify What is the spice paste made of ?

  10. Spice paste is the ginger onion garlic paste mentioned just in previous line.

  11. Hi this is moutushi....i am a bengali but i live in punjab....ami jante chai je jodi posto bata na di to cholbe kina....

  12. Hi Moutushi, if you dont get posto then just omit it and add few more pieces of cashews for the creaminess to be perfect.

  13. Hello Sayantani,
    I normally dont post comments on blog.. but i had to in this case, you have the perfect chicken rezala recipe.. from now on your are totally in my list of (fav) cooking blogs.. thanks a million for your recipe and yes, hats off for making those naksha boris


  14. wow looking so yummy i will try it today only.But mam what is mean of meetha ittar?
    Chicken Rezala Recipe

  15. Mouthwatering recipe. Thanks for sharing this.


  16. I made this today for dinner .. & it's a showstopper. ..Thank you so much.

  17. made it tonight..awesome..

    thank you

  18. Hi Sayantani! Loved your blog and all the things you do. Very inspiring indeed inspite of your hectic schedule. Tried your Chicken Rezala for my 16yr old son's birthday lunch and his friends absolutely loved it. So did I !! Normally, I do a Mutton Rezala... Madhur Jaffrey style , but your chicken rezala was equally good if not better :) The kewra and green chillies are just magical. Thanks for sharing so much!
    N from Bangalore

  19. Thank you N for trying out the recipe and writing to me. Really happy that everyone loved it. Happy 16th to your son.

  20. Hi i tried your chicken rezala didnt add essence flavors still tasted yummy with naan

  21. Tried ur chicken rezala without essence yummy combined with naan

  22. Hi i tried your chicken rezala didnt add essence flavors still tasted yummy with naan

  23. Hi in you method what is the 'spice paste' thank you

  24. Hi in your method which one is the spice paste is it the yogurt part?

  25. Mam, can this recipe be replaced by mutton?

  26. @Anonymous. yes you can replace with mutton but make sure that you marinate the mutton for 3-4 hours with raw papaya paste and salt along with other ingredients as mentioned in the recipe.

  27. Thank you for the recipe. I made a different style chicken rezala for the first time and it was Good.


Popular Posts