Narkel Kashundi Murgi (Chicken in Coconut and Mustard Sauce)

There's something about Poila Baisakh (first day of the Bengali calender) that screams family. Unlike it's English counterpart, the Bengali New Year is not about fancy party-sharty but mostly about spending time with your loved ones. Every family has its own unique way of spending the most it is synonymous with wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts guessed right...having a great meal. Good food is always part of a Bengali's rituals, whatever be the occasion. Poila Baisakh instantly reminds me of days left behind in the alleys of childhood. The smell of Kosha Mangsho emanating from Thamma's kitchen, the suppressed excitement of the multifarious gifts received from elders and the untold thrill of a new dress. April 15 would always fall within the end of session break, so an extended holiday surrounding this occasion was a given. Sometimes in the evenings the Kalbaisakhi would lash the streets and soothe the soul at the same time. Kalbaisakhis are always special. And so is the month of Baisakh...bringing in its wake promises of a new beginning.
Higher education and work have kept me out of Calcutta for a few years in between. My Jekubaba (father's elder brother) and Rika (his wife) have been sporadically in an out of Calcutta. Only my parents have held their sway in our Ballygunge Gardnes home. It was after oodles of years that every single member of the family, including my pishai (father's sister), was in town and under the same roof. This obviously called for celebrations of the highest order and as a family we function best when surrounded by good food!
Now there's this friend of mine who hates to cook and eats only for nutrition. Yes, there are people like that, much to the amazement of you and me. In a random conversation the other day, he mentioned about some "Gobhi Kasundi" from a famous restaurant chain that has got him hooked of late. And last week this very friend's mother gave me a bagful of home-grown coconuts (and also her camera because I've lost mine during my recent vacation). I thought of uniting her coconuts with her son's latest fad and whip up a spicy pungent treat for my family for Poila Baisakh. 
Recipe partly adapted from Bong Mom's CookBook

Chicken: 750 gm
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Garlic paste: 1.5 tsp
Kasundi: 3-4 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Desiccated Coconut: 4-5 tbsp
Coconut Milk: 150 ml
Green Chillies, whole or slit: 4-5
Nigella seeds/kaalo jeere/kalonji: 1 tsp
Mustard oil: 1.5 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Sugar: 1 tsp

For marination
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Mustard oil: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp


1. In a non-stick wok, heat the mustard oil. Once it's smoking hot, add nigella seeds and the green chillies.

2. As soon as the nigella seeds begin to splutter, add the ginger and garlic pastes. Cook for a few seconds and add the sugar. Stir for 30 seconds. Now add the chicken pieces. Sprinkle the turmeric powder. Give a few quick stirs to the chicken and let it cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes till its half done.

3. Now add the kasundi and desiccated coconut and mix well. Cook for 5-7 more minutes.

4. Add the coconut milk, a little bit of water and salt. Mix well and cover and cook till chicken is completely done and the gravy reaches the desired consistency. (3 minutes before I switched the gas off I added another tbsp of kasundi and stirred it into the gravy for extra pungency. You may skip this if you want your gravy to be of a milder taste.)

5. Garnish with some green chillies and serve hot with plain rice.
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  1. Ki bhaalo dekhtey! Eta banabo!

  2. Thank you thank you! And it's actually quite mild in terms of the heat quotient. Should suit your palate. :) Let me know kemon holo.

  3. I almost had the same feeling on Nobo Barsho this year . Read my story here -

    1. I guess Noboborsho sentiments, somewhere deep down, are very similar across families. :) But that bit of math to calculate the Bengali year must surely have been a potent trick to have up your sleeve! And Madhushree's mother's Bhetki Tok JHaal Mishti is a must try!


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