The dish is highly rich, full of flavors, enticing to the taste buds and the secret of a successful Rezala is the use of homemade sweet yogurt that nicely compliments the dish giving a nice sweet taste. Though Rezala is synonymous with mutton, the one I have prepared is with chicken. A perfect chicken rezala would have flavorsome gravy with juicy tender chicken pieces which would make your taste buds lingering with a burst of tang.
While I was scouting for a perfect Rezala recipe (actually there are many versions), I settled with one from my friend Sayantani's blog, A Homemaker's Diary. Though I followed most of the steps she posted, I tweaked it a bit per my taste buds. I would say her's is a more authentic version of Rezala as she has used a generous amount of ghee/ clarified butter and kewra essence. I have cut down a bit on the ghee/ clarified butter (wanted to make a low fat version) and used saffron instead of kewra. And I must say, J and I loved it. But you may add a generous amount of ghee for enhanced flavor and richness.
My Verdict - This is one simple dish bursting with flavors.
Preparation Time - 1 hour
Skinless Chicken, Bone in Medium size pieces -500 gms
Medium Size onion - 2
Garlic Pods - 3-4 large
Ginger - 1 inch
Fresh Curd - 1 cup
Ground Black/ White Pepper - 1 tsp
Nutmeg Powder - 1 tsp
Whole Garam Masala
Green Cardamom - 3
Black Cardamom - 1
Cloves - 4/5
Black Pepper - 8/10
Red Chili - 2
Bayleaf - 1
Clarified Butter - 2 tsp
Refine Oil - 3 tsp
Cashew Nuts (Whole) - 4/5
Poppy Seeds - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 pinch
Saffron - few strands
Method of Preparation
First wash the chicken and drain all water from it. Keep aside. Remove the skin of onions and pressure cook it using little water till one whistle. When cool open and remove from cooker. Let it sit for some time till it cools thoroughly. Crush garlic and ginger using a mortar and pestle.
When the onion is cooled down chop it roughly. Grind onion, ginger n garlic together in a blender to make a smooth paste. The paste has to be absolutely smooth.
Using a whisk, beat the curd to make it smooth.
Grind cashew n poppy seeds to a paste and keep aside.
In a bowl mix onion/ginger garlic paste and curd. Add nutmeg and pepper powder. Add salt to taste. Add the chicken pieces to the mixture and marinate. Keep it aside for minimum 30 minute. est if you can marinate it for 4-5 hours.
Once you are ready to cook Heat the oil and ghee. Lightly pound (just one or two stroke for the pods to open and release more aroma) the whole spices and add to the oil. Let it sizzle and fill up your kitchen with lovely aroma.Shake off the marinate from the chicken and arrange them on the pan, preferably in single layer. on medium heat seal the chicken and cook till all sides turn white. Now pour in all the marinade and mix.
Cook for 8-10 minutes and the add the poppy/ cashew seeds paste. cook for a minute and pour 3/4 cup warm water. Check the seasoning and cover. Let it simmer on low heat till oil starts to float on top and the chicken is cooked through.
Uncover and add the sugar and strands of saffron . Keep covered till you are ready to serve.
Serve with Indian flat breads Naan/ Paratha/ Kulcha etc.