Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Marghi Na Ras Chawal (Chicken in a tangy tomato gravy)

Marghi Na Ras Chawal
Whats your favourite dish?, a classmate of mine asked another, this must have been circa 1997, when the building that housed our school lunch room was knocked down to make way for a bigger structure in its place and we used the school's gymnasium cum canteen as a makeshift lunchroom.

Pat came the reply "Rajma Chawal" (a very popular North Indian dish made with kidney beans in a deliciously spiced tomato gravy, served on a bed of steamed rice). She wasn't the only one from whom I heard the words Rajma Chawal in school, college or later in life.

A vast number of people irrespective of age or caste often sang paeans in name of this humble legume. I however for the longest time had never even tasted Rajma and often wondered what all the fuss was about.

Born in a tiny, micro minority Parsi community in Mumbai, my food was very different from what most people around us were used to having as their daily fare. Neither did we consume dal rice on a daily basis, nor vegetables and chapattis.

Lunch in a Parsi household, almost always is made up of steamed rice and a saucy gravy. This sauce may then be made up of a coconut based curry, a lentil soup or a light tomato based gravy.

This very tomato based gravy or what Indians call 'rassa' and we Parsis call 'Ras' is consumed atleast bi-weekly in our house. This Ras is flavored with various spices and condiments, which are even changed depending on the availability of fresh seasonal produce.

Ras Chawal is and always has been my ultimate comfort food. On days when we had our examinations, school left by mid morning and a weary me was often greeted by the familiar whiff of this delicious gravy bubbling away on my grandmother's stove top. What I most loved about her recipe though were three pieces of drumsticks that she would throw in, that were always neatly bundled with a long strand of the vegetables' own fiber.

Today, decades later neither has my love for this humble dish dwindled nor has its demand by my youngling, who gets all wide eyed when he sees his favourite 'orange nanna' (orange coloured food) on his plate.

I hope you too will make this recipe someday and relish it with as much gusto as we do.

Here's the recipe,
Serves 4

You will need:

1/2 kg (1 lb) chicken pieces on the bone (Feel free to use any protein of choice)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 medium sized onions
3 medium tomatoes (pureed)
2 medium potatoes
1 tbsp chopped raw mangoes (optional)
2 bay leaves
3 pepper corns
2 dried red kashmiri chillies
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp coriander seed powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp powdered jaggery (cane sugar) (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying the onions
2 cups water
2 tbsps coriander leaves for garnish


Apply ginger garlic paste evenly on all the pieces of thawed chicken and set aside.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker and fry chopped onions.

Once the onions are deep golden in color add in all the dry spices along with the bay leaves, peppercorns and dry red chilies.

Roast on a low flame till all the spices loose their raw smell.

Next add in chopped raw mangoes and pureed tomatoes, cook on a low flame till the tomatoes are cooked and the mixture leaves the sides of the vessel.

Now add in de-skined potatoes that have been halved along with the chicken.

Add in water and salt and mix well.

Cover the lid and pressure cook for three whistles, simmer and cook for another 15 mins.

Once cool garnish with chopped coriander leaves on a bed of steamed rice.



  1. one of my all time fav dishes :)

  2. Instead of raw mangoes I usually add kokum to give it that slight sourness. Will try it with the raw mangoes he next time. Btw my wife is a bawi !!!!


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