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Indian Cuisine: Mughlai Braised Chicken Recipe

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The finished result, after having been braised in the oven.

The finished result, after having been braised in the oven.

The French culinary tradition has long exerted its greatest spell over me. And it has only arrived at such a lofty rank after a long and bitter struggle with India's own respective grand achievements. Like France, India has a diverse cuisine across a sub-continent with millennia of history, different environments, and different peoples. And if French cuisine has a simple elegance that few other cuisines can match, India's has a formidable energy and vitality to it, an abundance and an exuberance, that makes it a joy to make and to eat.

This dish, Mughali braised chicken, stems from Northern India. It is composed of chicken that is first sautéd, then mixed with raisins and almonds, and finally mixed with a yoghurt-based sauce and braised in the oven. This combination produces a superbly tender chicken that has an intoxicating taste of cinnamon combined with a savory-tangy flavor from its yoghurt marinade. In my case, I served this chicken over a bean dish, but it would go well with a host of different bases and vegetable sides; it is energetic enough to have a punch and refined enough to be flexible.

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For the adaption of this recipe, I owe full credit to A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey, a superb Indian cookbook and guide to India.


  • 2 pounds chicken
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 8 cardamon pods
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons blanched and slicvered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder


  1. Chop up the chicken into serving pieces. I generally prefer to have small pieces, like 1 inch/2.5cm across, in order to better absorb sauces, but one can have larger pieces if one desires. Next, lay all of the chicken into an oven-proof casserole, and salt and pepper one side, rubbing it into the chicken. Then turn the chicken to the other side, and repeat the same process.
  2. Heat the oil and butter over medium heat, and add the cut up chicken pieces, alongside the cardamon, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves. Sauté on one side, then turn to the other, making sure that the meat is coated in the spices. When the chicken is browned, remove from the skillet, and place back into the casserole, placing the chicken in a single layer.
  3. Place the almonds into the skillet, and roast them until they begin to turn brown, swirling them as needed. At this point, add the raisins, stirring one time, then removing all and pouring over the chicken.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, some additional black pepper, and cayenne pepper/chili pepper, and mix or whisk together. Pour it over the chicken and make sure it covers it well.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Place casserole dish into the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and baste the chicken pieces that are emerged or submerge them again into the yogurt sauce. Cook for 30 minutes more. At the end of this period, either serve immediately, or if waiting, warm up in a skillet.

© 2017 Ryan Thomas

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