Bhuna Murgh or Kosha Murgir Mangsho — South Asian Pan Seared spicy Chicken

Bhuna Murgh or Kosha Murgir Mangsho — South Asian Pan Seared spicy Chicken

Sundays should usually be laid back and are ideally meant to be spent waking up very late, eating a royal lavish Brunch, chatting with friends, a movie or a brief outing with family and lots of sleeping. You’d like to hold back a Sunday forever. Who on earth would want to wake up to a Monday, after all?  

And being an Indian and having genetically inherited our undying love for cooking and eating…Sundays are days that are reserved for the most elaborate family meals et al. Earlier those days, offices and schools were never closed on Saturdays. It used to be a 6-weekday week with holiday only on Sundays. And so the last day of every weekend, was when Ma used to make us our favorite fish or meat curry (Goat or chicken). Growing up in the dry plain lands in the state of UP in Northern India, freshwater fishes weren’t a regular sight at our local  meat/fish shop. Baba (my Dad) being a diabetic,  and having been advised to keep away from red meat, eventually grew up an inclination for Chicken. 

Baba had set this rule very clear for us, “No matter how busy you are and what you’re doing at the time, we must all meet at the dining table to eat at least one supper together as a family on a weekend”. And I’ve always loved his ideas, sometimes being a biased Daddy’s girl, sometimes not being one. As a ritual, since my childhood days, we’d all lunch together on Sundays and Ma would make her best Chicken curries and serve her kin. At the table, as we all ate, there would be plenty of little chats, stories, laughter and family time fun. Ma would tell my brother and me how her Mom and my Gramma would have to cook a big pot full of extra rice for her 4 children, Granpa and herself on Sundays, because they’d eat a lot more on the “Chicken curry days”! The chicken curry Granma made was amazing…she didn’t have a fancy name for it then. They all would fondly call it “Robibarer Murgi” or Sunday special Chicken! 🙂

The delightful “Sunday special Chicken” incites such a delight and it all comes together with it — the taste, the lingering aroma in the house, the fun, the relish, the giggles, family time and happy plates! And having got married to a “Murgir Mangsho” (chicken meat) lover, Sunday afternoons have all been always about “Chicken love and other things” for me!! My Mr. Man grew up on his Mom’s version of the Sunday chicken curry too….and his Mom’s mantra, “Chicken Kosha must be reddish brown, and never yellowish in color. If it’s yellow, either the spice mixture hasn’t been sauteed well enough or may be the chicken wasn’t seared well for long”. Mr. Man and his parents have this never ending love and this thing for “red-brown Chicken curries”!  

Bhuna Murgh or Kosha Murgir Mangsho -- South Asian Pan Seared spicy ChickenBut I do it a little differently for my family (you know my eternal tendency for tweaking things!). For the sake of ease, convenience, and in the spirit of simple innovation, I sear/brown the chicken on high for a little bit and then slow cook them in their own juices until done, without adding any water. The advantages?  It results in a thick buttery and spicy gravy…the enhanced rich taste of spices remains undiluted. It doesn’t take long to cook the chicken this way and I can spare myself from using another cooking pan/pot. It’s a great dish to go with Indian breads. And if you’ll be eating it as a side with your rice, you always have the option of adding a little water and simmering (or cover cooking), to obtain a wonderful Chicken curry! I love the idea of flexible/adaptive recipes…they make our lives so much more easy…don’t they?

“Kosha Murgi” or the “Bhuna Gosht” is a huge favorite in Bengali restaurants and homes and is best had with fresh Phulka’s, Tava Roti’sParatha’s, Luchi’s, Poori’s, or Naans. Typically, this dish does not contain any added water and is cooked in an open pot/wok without a lid. And, here’s how I do it…


Serves 3 – 4 

  • 1.5 lb (about 700 gms) Chicken on bone without skin — cut to medium-small pieces, washed and cleaned
  • 0.5 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 inch Cinnamon stick, broken (Dalchini)
  • 2 Black Cardamons (Bari Elaichi)
  • 3 Green Cardamoms (Choti Elaichi)
  • 1 Bay Leaf (Tejpatta)
  • 10-12 Cloves (Lavang)
  • 2 dry Red Chilly — *Optional
  • One large Onion, chopped
  • One large tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp grated fresh ginger (or paste or powder)
  • 1.5 tbsp fine chopped Garlic (or paste or powder)
  • 3 Indian hot green chilies, sliced length-wise — *Optional
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 1.5 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilly powder — the variety less in heat, more in color
  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder (Dhania powder)  
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil or Light Olive oil to cook (I use about 0.5 cup)
  • A handful of shredded Fresh Cilantro (Dhania patti) for garnish
  • 1 tbsp of Clarified Butter (Ghee) to finish — *Optional



  1. In a wok on medium heat, heat the Mustard oil
  2. Add the whole spices (jeera, bay leaf, cinnamon, black and green cardamoms, cloves, dry red chillies)  and let them crack and splutter
  3. Add chopped onions and saute until they turn translucent. 
  4. Throw in the chopped tomato, garlic, ginger and split green chillies. Fry till the tomatoes get mushy and do not have the raw smell anymore.
  5. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder. stir and mix.
  6. Stir and cook the spice mixture till they are nicely done and they start releasing our some fat (or you begin to see the oils bubbling out from the sides of the mixture.
  7. Add the  chicken pieces, adjust salt and turn your stove to medium-high heat. Constantly turn and roast the chicken in this step to allow browning and to avoid charring at the same time.
  8. Once the chicken seem to have acquired a lovely brownish-golden color on them, turn back the stove heat to medium-low.
  9. Let the chicken cook in it’s own juices. However, if you feel our chicken needs some more moisture, water, you may chose to cover cook for a while. Additionally, if you’d prefer yours to be a curry, you may add just about 1 cup water and allow it to simmer cook well. Yet again, it is ideal to cook this in an open pot, and for all the water to be gone – this one’s essentially an semi-dry preparation with a thick gravy.
  10. After the chicken is completely done, turn off the stove and add chopped Cilantro and clarified butter.
  11. Serve immediately and serve while hot……have a soulfully spiced and delightful supper you all!
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