Indian Spiced Chicken

Murgh musallam
Murgh musallam spiced chicken.

Zohaib Hussain/Getty Images

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6 portions (6 servings)

This Mughlai recipe will become your go-to, impress-your-friends-and-relatives Indian dish. Mughlai (moog-lie) is a variety of Indian cuisine that was a result of the Mughal rule in India from 1426 to 1857. During that time, the food was rich and cooked with aromatic spices, nuts, and dried fruits. 

The marinated chicken recipe may look like a lot of work but the end result is so worth it. Serve this chicken with naan bread and a salad or on a bed of jeera rice.


  • 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) chicken (thigh fillet, cut into 2-inch cubes)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 20 cloves garlic
  • 2 (3-inch) gingers
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 6 cardamom pods (large and brown/ badi elaichi)
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 15 almonds (blanched)
  • 12 to 15 tablespoons oil
  • 3 large onions (very thinly sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (fresh, chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Put the chicken into a large, deep, non-metallic mixing bowl.

  2. Grind the green chilies, half the garlic cloves, and 1 of the pieces of ginger into a smooth paste in a food processor.

  3. Mix this paste with the garam masala powder, 3/4 tsp. of salt, turmeric powder, yogurt, and half of the red chili powder. Mix well to make the marinade for the chicken.​

  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken and mix well to coat the pieces completely. Keep aside for later.

  5. While the chicken is marinating, heat a shallow pan or griddle on medium heat and when hot, roast the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, badi elaichi, blanched almonds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds on it. Stir frequently until the spices begin to turn slightly darker in color. Take off from heat and allow to cool.

  6. Now heat 4 tablespoons of the vegetable cooking oil in a deep pan, on medium heat. When hot, add the sliced onions and the remaining half of the garlic to it. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are pale golden in color. Use a slotted spoon to drain the onions and garlic and remove them from the oil. We will use this remaining oil and pan again a little later.

  7. Put the fried onions and garlic into a food processor along with the above-roasted spices and the remaining piece of ginger. Grind to a thick, smooth paste, only adding water as required to facilitate the grinding.

  8. Now (using the same pan you used to fry the onions), add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pan and set up on medium heat. Brown only the pieces of chicken (in batches), reserving the marinade for later use. When this is done, keep the chicken aside. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons more of the cooking oil and when it is hot, add the ground paste you made above.

  9. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the marinade, chicken pieces, tomato pureé, remaining red chili powder, and salt to taste. Add 1/2 cup of hot water and stir well.

  10. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is tender—most of the liquid will have dried up.

  11. Garnish your chicken with chopped, fresh coriander leaves and serve with jeera rice and a salad! Naan bread also goes brilliantly to soak up the tasty sauce.