Chicken in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

These days, chicken is a common non-veg item not only for Bengalis but also for other Indian meat lovers. In fact, chicken dishes have acquired a special status almost like mutton among the Bongs despite their unparalleled love for fish.

Cooking Chicken

Use of Chicken in Bengali and Indian Cuisines

I have already narrated a chicken’s journey from a forbidden bird to Bengalis’ kitchens. Remember that the story is the same for nearly all Indian.

However, the story was different for Indian Muslims. They had no inhibitions towards chicken dishes and loved to cook them with no less fervor than what they always felt when cooking mutton.

There is a wider variety of chicken dishes both in Bengal and other parts of the country. Every region has one or two signature chicken dishes.

Bengali chicken curry is a delicious dish that soaks in the flavors of whole spices and is slow cooked in curd.

This signature dish from Bengal incorporates potatoes, which are conspicuously missing in other varieties of chicken curry in other parts of India.

It shows Bengalis’ insane and immortal love for the vegetable.

Duck Bungalow chicken is another famous and favorite dish in Bengal. The dish has a colonial past but has continued to rule Bengalis’ cuisine culture.

Bengalis love biryani. I’m not talking about the heavily flavorsome and little dark coloured variation on Hyderabad streets, alleys or in restaurants.

Neither am I sinking into the fantasy of relishing the subtle flavors of Awadhi Biryani.

Those varieties definitely leave your mouth watering but I, like many Bongs, never get tired of telling how chicken pieces share space with eggs and potatoes in Kolkata Biryani.

They exchange flavors with each other and blend their natural flavors with aromatic whole spices. These additions make Biryani in the City of Joy special and according to me, more sumptuous.

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Chicken rezala, a Mughlai Khana has received a grand welcome in our Bongs’ culinary khazana. Chicken rezala is popular in different parts of India.

Hyderabadi chicken has its own speciality. The same rings true for Chicken Vindaloo (A Goan Cuisine) and Patiala Chicken (A Punjabi Dish). Butter Chicken is a very famous dish from Punjab.

Murg Afgani got a cult status in Mughlai culinary history and still tempts the meat lovers’ taste buds for its unique style of preparation.

Chili chicken, though a Chinese dish, is now a favorite with Bengalis. The dish is best relished with fried rice. Chicken is not always cooked with a lot of spices. Sometimes, simplicity makes all the differences in taste.

For example, Dhania chicken is prepared with a simple few ingredients and spices but that is the key to its brilliance. It is a winter special dish in Bengal and cooked in a very short time.

Kebabs are a part and parcel of Mughlai cuisine. Reshmi kebab, chicken seekh kebab, galouti kebab enjoy pan-India popularity.

Thanks to fool connoisseurs, the most flavorsome and favorite dishes in every region now travel throughout India.

Chicken is also used to make delicious snacks. Chicken pakora, chicken roll (small, spicy chicken pieces rolled into all-purpose flour-based paranthas), chicken samosa, chicken sandwich etc are favorite chicken snacks for gen Y and even middle-aged Indians.

Chicken kathi roll is a famous Kolkata dish. Foodies don’t mind standing in long queues to enjoy the flavors of soft and spicy chicken.

How to Make Chicken Good?

How you marinate chicken and how long you leave it marinated bring a lot of differences in the taste of any chicken dish.

Proper marination makes it softer and juicer, allowing spices and flavors to get into chicken pieces. Curd is a wonderful ingredient to soften chicken.

Marinate your chicken with curd and other spices and leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Raw papaya is another great ingredient to make chicken tender. For some dishes, you have to marinate chicken overnight.

Many Indian and Mughlai chicken recipes use whole spices. Make sure to add whole spices to hot oil for enhanced flavors. Rich chicken dishes also use cream at the end of cooking.

Another point – chicken always tastes better if cooked on a slow frame. It will take time but it’s worth your labor.

What Are Different Ways to Cook Chicken?

There are different ways to cook chicken. Depending on the dish you are preparing, you need to cook chicken either on slow flame or high flame.

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Usually, Indian style chicken cooking requires you to cook on a low flame for better flavors and taste.

Both chicken kebabs and curries taste divine if prepared on low flame on a chullah. However, chili chicken, a popular Chinese dish, tastes better when cooked on high flame.

What to Add to Chicken to Make It Tasty?

It has already been mentioned that marination is the key to making chicken tasty. Curd adds a wonderful texture and taste to chicken dishes while making chicken pieces softer.

Whole spices also make chicken more flavourful. For a richer texture, flavor and taste, you can use cashew paste and poppy seeds paste.

It will give a creamy thickness to your chicken dish. Remember that all these are meant for Indian chicken dishes. Continental chicken recipes are simpler and much easier to make.

What Does Chicken Go Well with?

It depends on the type of chicken dish you are serving. Chicken rezala, butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, Hydrabadi chicken, chicken Patiala, Afgani murgh go best with plain or laccha parathas. Butter chicken with naan is a popular dish at street-side dhabas.

Bengali style chicken curry finds a soul mate in plain steaming rice. However, for a royal gastronomic experience, it is served with pulao.

You can relish dhania murgh with chapati, roti or paratha. Chili chicken and fried rice find the best companion in each other.

Chicken biryani is a full meal served with onion-cucumber salad. Sometimes it is served with cucumber raita as well. Chicken kebabs are usually accompanied by salad and sauce.

How Do You Infuse Flavors into Chicken Breast?

The best way to infuse flavors into chicken breast is to keep them marinated overnight.

If you are in a hurry, brine the chicken breast in salty water before cooking. It will soften the meat and also make it flavorsome.

What Vegetables Go Good with Chicken?

Bengali chicken curry uses potatoes. In chicken vindaloo, plenty of tomatoes are used. However, tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable.

If you are making chicken soup, you can use small cubes of potatoes, raw papaya and carrot. Bell peppers are used to make stuffed chicken.

What Goes Good with Grilled Chicken?

You have plenty of options to serve with grilled chicken.

It tastes good with grilled corn, air-fryer asparagus, sweet potato fries, creamy potato salad, sweet potato fries, potatoes mashed in the microwave, fruit salsa etc.

How Do You Make Plain Chicken Taste Good?

You don’t need to use a lot of ingredients to make chicken tasty. For example, grilled chicken – it’s a continental dish but now has become a part of India’s cosmopolitan cuisine culture.

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You can serve it with a number of items as mentioned above and pour honey and sprinkle pepper to promote flavors and add color to its seemingly bland look.

Dhania chicken is also made with a few ingredients. For any plain chicken dish, curd works like magic. It gives the dish a thick texture and also tenderizes chicken.

Bongs use potatoes for chicken curry. You can smash some potatoes to make the gravy thick.

For simple chicken dishes, it’s not necessary to use red chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder.

Add tomato puree for a reddish look and chopped green chillies and pepper for spicy taste. And make sure to add whole spices.

Whether it is a simple or spicy dish, use ingredients in such a way that none of them overpower others and the subtle taste comes out.

How Do You Grill Chicken without Drying It out?

Soak the chicken pieces i.e. chicken breasts in a brine solution (1/4 cup kosher salt added to 4 cups of water).

The process keeps chicken breasts hydrated enough so that they can retain their moisture against the high heat of the grill and don’t dry out.

How Do You Keep Chicken Moist?

Brine the chicken pieces into a solution of water and salt for 20-30 minutes. It will keep chicken moist and also enhance its natural flavor.

It’s a simple but very effective way to make sure that your chicken won’t get dry or chewy.

Why Does Restaurant Chicken Taste Better?

In some cases, chicken pieces are brined in salted water and left in the fridge overnight. It boosts up both moisture and flavor of chicken.

Sometimes, other seasonings such as monosodium glutamate are also added.

For some chicken dishes, chicken pieces are pounded before cooking. It also promotes flavor and taste.

Questions & Answers:

Can You Cook Chicken and Vegetables at the Same Time?

It won’t pose any health risk if you cook chicken and vegetables simultaneously, provided everything is well cooked before you consume it.

Can You Cook Raw Chicken with Onion?

Yes, it’s completely safe to cook raw chicken and onion together.

Which Herbs Go Best with Chicken?

Coriander leaves and Kasauri methi (fenugreek) go best with chicken.

What’s the Healthiest Way to Cook Chicken?

If you want ‘health vi taste vi’, stir fry small, boiled chicken pieces with vegetables or bake chicken in the oven.

Should You Season Chicken Before Cooking?

Seasoning always enhances the taste of chicken. Seasoning should be done a few hours before cooking.

Do You Need to Marinate Chicken Before Cooking?

Yes, it’s always better to marinate chicken before cooking. The process makes chicken softer, juicier and yummier.

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