Calcutta is famous for its love for food. People here take pride in being true aficionados of the gastronomic delights - bon vivant !!!  One such tummy-happy cuisine that has taken its own color in Calcutta is the Mughlai style of cooking, an import from princely North India. And restaurants - old and new, traditional and experimental, commonplace and classy - abound in this city to bear witness to the love of the local people for this style of food. Famous and popular establishments are Shiraz, Rahmania, Sabbir and, my favorite, Arsalan. People are known to rave about the food served in these places and each place commands its own legion of fans. My husband and myself, both an unabashed fan of Arsalan. 

The Mughlai food reached Calcutta holding the hands of the exiled Nawab of Audh - Wajed Ali Shah, who was defeated by the British in the war of 1857 and sent packing to Calcutta, where he was under house-arrest with a huge retinue, typical of royalty. His was a singular influence on the literature, art, architecture and food on contemporary Calcutta. Since then, local taste and flavor has mingled with the cuisine of the royal kitchens

Biryani : easily differentiated from the other styles in India by its presence of potato and egg in the lightly-spiced, ghee-laden, heart-filling aromatic rice 
Chaap : a meat dish in a very thick, grainy masala paste) and  
Rezala : another chicken dish in a very light and subtly sweet, yogurt-based sauce

With this in mind and missing my favorite Rezala, I decided to try my hand at making this item at home. And, from the way my resident in-house food critic - my husband - slurped up the sauce, I can feel the outcome was pretty joyous. The careful planning and slow cooking did its magic, it seems !!! 

Below I share with my readers, the steps to recreate the magic of Rezala in your home : 



Author: Anshu Bhatnagar from My Mom's Recipes
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
45 mins
Total time
1 hour 5 mins


Whole Garam Masala (2 Bay Leaves, 4 Cloves, 1 small Cinnamon Stick, 2-3 Cardamoms, 1 star anise, 2 whole dry Kashmiri Red Chilies, 1/2 mace)
  • Onion - 1, blended into paste
  • Onion - 1, cut into large rings
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 
  • Green Chilies - 3-4
  • Cashew Nut and Poppy Seeds Paste - 2 tablespoons
  • Yogurt - 1 Cup for marination and 1 cup for the curry { Easy TIP: To prevent yogurt from curdling, always use room-temperature yogurt and blend in a mixer before adding it to the curry }
  • Chicken Leg Quarters - 500 grams
  • Salt - to taste
  • Sugar - 2 teaspoon
  • Kewra Water - 3-4 drops
  • Saffron - a pinch
  • Ghee or Butter - 2 tablespoons
  • Water - 1/2 cup


  1. Marinade Chicken legs/Quarters with salt, yogurt, and stilted green chilies and rest for few hours, {Marinating overnight is always the best}
  2.  Heat Ghee in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the whole garam masala (Bay Leaves, Cloves, Cinnamon Stick, Cardamoms, star anise and mace) We are not adding the Kashmiri Chilies at this point. 
  3. Add Onion Paste and fry for 2-3 minutes till raw flavor is gone. We are NOT turning the onions brown. 
  4. After sauteing onions for few minutes, add ginger-garlic paste and green chilies. Saute for 2 more minutes and add cashew-poppy seeds paste, with some water.
  5. Cook covered for 3-4 minutes. Add blended curd, marinated chicken and water. Bring to boil. Add salt and sugar according to your taste. 
  6. Cover and cook till chicken is tender for about 35 minutes on low heat. 
  7. Heat more Ghee in a small pan. Add whole Kashmiri red chilies and onion rings. Fry for 2-3 minutes. The onions rings should be crunchy, not soft. 
  8. Pour this tadka on top of chicken gravy. Add kewra water. Cook for 2 minutes. Add saffron strands. Switch off the flame. 
  9. Cover the pot and let it stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. 
For my Vegetarian Friends, Chicken can be very well replaced by "Paneer" along with green and yellow Bell Peppers.   


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