Lebu Lonka Murgi /Chicken with Gandhoraj Lemon and green chillies

8:00 PM

As much as I love cooking, eating and writing about Bengali food, it's a strict NO for me to go to Bengali restaurants when eating out. The reason being we eat Bengali food every day at home and when out I rather prefer to experiment and experience new cuisine. But that is not the case with my father, who lives with us. Every time he agrees to accompany us for a meal outside he would make sure that we head to a Bengali restaurant. Following the tradition he made us visit Bhajohori Manna this Nababarsho when I announced loud and clear that am not going to cook a five-course meal them to celebrate the Bengali New Year.
The food was good but what I liked most was this Lebu Lonka Murgi. A thin almost soupy gravy redolent of green chilies and Bengal's own Gandhoraj Lemon. This light lemony gravy was very comforting on such a hot day. The kids loved it so much that we even packed another serving home. And the following week I had to try making it. The recipe is quite straight forward. I have used little more onion paste to have some more gravy to mix with the rice. 

So if you want to make some get hold of some Gandhoraj lemon or Thai Kaffir lime along with a few leaves and then you are good to go. Please make sure to check the notes below for extra tips.

Lebu Lonka Murgi
(Serves 4)

Chicken (curry cut): 500 gms
Onion: 3 medium (Paste: 1/2 cup)
Garlic: 1 pod
Ginger: 1" piece
Green chilies: 10-12 or as per your  heat tolerance
Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Peppercorns: 1/2 tsp+1/2 tsp
Gandhoraj lemon or Kaffir lime leaves: 3
Oil (I used 1:1 white oil to mustard oil, you can use either): 6 tbsp
Zest of Gandoraj lebu: from 1 small lemon
Juice of lemon: 1 tsp+1tsp
Bay leaf: 1 big or 2 small
Sugar: 1/2 tsp or little more to balance the taste.

Make a very smooth paste of the onion. Please adjust the number of onions to get at least 1/2 a cup of onion paste. In your blender jar add the garlic, ginger, 5-6 green chilies, and 1/2 tsp peppercorns. Add little water and make a smooth paste.

Wash and drain all the water from the chicken pieces. If the leg pieces are big cut a few slits on them. 
Whisk the yogurt very very smooth. Marinate the chicken with the yogurt, 1 tsp of the ginger garlic paste, 1 tbsp of the onion paste, 1 tsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of oil and salt. Mix well and marinate for at least an hour.

Once you are ready to cook, Heat the oil. Add the bay leaf and 1/2 tsp of the pounded peppercorns. Once it starts to sizzle add the onion paste and little salt. Cook on medium for 6-8 minutes till the raw smell is gone and the onion changes colour from pink to light brown. Now add the rest of the ginger garlic paste. Cook again on low till oil starts to separate at the sides.

Add the chicken with all the marinade. Add salt as per taste. Keep the flame medium and cook by mixing it well. Cover and let it cook for at least 15 minutes till the juice of the chicken is absorbed you start to see bubbles of oils on the surface. Cook more if needed. 

Add 1 and 3/4 cup warm water. Mix.  Adjust the seasoning by adding a bit more salt if required. Once it starts to boil Add 4-5 slit green chilies and 4-5 whole green chilies. Tear 2 lemon leaves and add. Cover and let the gravy thicken a little on low flame. Once you are happy with the gravy and the doneness of the chicken finish the dish with the rest of the lemon juice, sugar, zest of lemon and rest of the lemon leaves (chop or tear.). Mix and cover. Let it stand for 10 minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Serve hot with plain white rice or any kind of pulao.
I served the kids with some gajar (carrot pilaf) pulao.

A Homemaker's Notes:
  • Try to use green chilies with less heat that way more chilies could be used which means better flavour.
  • If your chilies are quite spicy then slit them in half and remove the seeds.
  • I even have made kancha lonka murgi (green chili chicken) with capsicum (green) when my son was small. Try that if your kid loves chicken but not the heat.
  • If you do not get fresh Gandhoraj lemon or kaffir lime leaves then use dried ones. I fridge dry every time I get some gandhoraj lemon leaves. But please remember normal lime or lemon leaves do not have similar scent. So better not use it.

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