Good old roast

Get bowled over by the delicious bhuna murg kalimirchwala

TANDOORI murg is recognised the world over as the king kebab — larger than life — not only in size but a true heavyweight in terms of accompanying baggage of legend and lore. A few decades back, it was synonymous with the Punjabi refugee dhaba and that, perhaps, is the reason that it used to be confused with quintessential Turko-Afghan frontier fare from across the border.

But now that the historians have proved that the clay oven existed as early as the Indus Valley civilisation and its reach extended almost to the present day Haryana, we can safely suggest that the vain cock strutted around with flavourful flair millennia before the Partition.

In the recent years, the whole or the half bird has experienced a slight eclipse faced with tough competition from chicken Afghani — milder and more sober — and malai and other boneless tikka. Siring butter chicken all but sealed its fate.

The tangri unleashed a leg show that has left even the bosoms (breast pieces) breathless. But why beat around the bush? We do keep getting pangs of nostalgic hunger that is not sated by any other roast but the good-old tandoori murg.

Only once in a while does a worthy contender tempt us to betray a loyal allegiance. This was the case when we encountered bhatti da in Amritsar, a few years back and sampled the sigari ka sika murg in Lucknow. More often than not, the roasts and grills are disappointing. Imagine our glee when we tasted purely by chance bhuna murg kalimirch wala in Haldwani en route to Nainital. Shma Hotel serves a gravy version too but we loved it like James Bond’s stirred not shaken Martini dry.

Bhuna  Murg  KaliMirch 

A small chicken 750 gm

Hung yoghurt 50 ml

Ginger-garlic paste 1tbsp

Kashmiri red chilli 1/2 tsp

Peppercorns (coarsely

and freshly pounded) 2 tbsp

Lemon juice 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Oil to taste

Clean, wash and pat dry the chicken. Cut into six to eight pieces. Score the breast and leg pieces making deep gashes with a sharp knife. Rub over well with yoghurt, ginger-garlic paste mixed with chilli powder, lemon juice and salt. Sprinkle over with the pounded pepper. Keep aside for an hour.

Pre-heat an oven to 250º C. Grease a baking tray lightly and place the marinated chicken in it after draining the marinade. Place it in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. (To ensure moisture, you may have to lightly baste with a little oil once or twice.) Sprinkle with freshly ground peppercorns and serve with lemon wedges and onion rings. Resist the temptation to add any other sprinklers like tandoori or chat masala!