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(Can be substituted with lamb or vegetables)

  • 1 kg chicken pieces (I prefer thighs with bone and skin still intact as it imparts flavour)
    (To make this as a vegetarian dish, use vegetables of your choice, washed and cut up into chunks)
  • 3 medium onions, chopped up and fried until golden brown (keep aside)
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes or baby potatoes halved (keep skins on them) fried in same pan as onions until starting to go light brown then remove and keep aside (they don’t have to be thoroughly cooked yet as they are going into oven)
  • Half a cup of ghee (clarified butter) or oil ( I just use butter)
  • 2 cups basmati rice (cook as per instructions but shorten the time as it’s going into the oven, must not be soft or fluffy yet. Rinse and keep aside)
  • ½ cup of brown lentils soaked in hot water for at least an hour then rinsed and cooked for 20 min, rinse and keep aside
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (tuj)
  • 8 cardamom pods (elachi)
  • 6 hard boiled eggs peeled
  • ½ cup of fresh coriander leaves chopped and tightly packed (dhania)
  • ½ teaspoon of safron (kesar) boiled in ½ cup of water then simmer to draw the colour and flavour out of strands
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Optional: a few drops of red food colouring mixed in ¼ cup of water
  • Marinade for chicken pieces:
  • ½ tin of whole tomatoes in juice (liquidise) alternatively grate 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt (I use double cream)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime)
  • 1 tablespoon grated/crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated/crushed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons green masala
  • 2 teaspoons red masala
  • Optional to marinade if you want it hot:
  • 2 green chillies, sliced

Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry and place in flat glass or ceramic dish. Combine the marinade ingredients and spoon over the chicken making sure it’s covered all over. Close the dish with clingwrap and keep in fridge for at least 3 hours, but can be left overnight for more flavour and quicker assembly next day.
Heat a heavy flat bottomed pot (about 4 liter capacity) with tight fitting lid that is suitable for the oven on the hob and put the butter in so that it just melts without bubbling.
Put the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and half of the fried onions on the bottom of pot. Place the chicken pieces (removed from fridge about an hour earlier to get to ambient temperature) on top and spoon all the marinade over. Spoon the rest of onions and the lentils over and sprinkle with the coriander leaves and chillies if using.
Sprinkle the potatoes cubes or halved baby potatoes over.
Arrange the eggs on top.
Cover with the slightly underdone rice and sprinkle the cumin seeds over the rice.
Sprinkle the red water over the rice.
To seal it tight put a sheet of tinfoil over the pot, cover with lid and put in preheated oven at 170°C for 90 minutes.
For vegetables 1 hour is enough. Lamb would be between 90 min and 2 hours.
Serve with raitas (cucumber grated or cut small cubes in unflavoured yoghurt)

Photo and recipe: Elsabie Templeton

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