Murgh Navratan is by far the most exotic chicken curry we have made. The delicacy is rich yet mild and it is royal. Navratan in hindi means Nine Gems. The Mughal emperor Akbar, despite his illiteracy, was a great lover of the artists and intellectuals. His passion for knowledge and interest in learning from great minds led him to attract men of genius to his court, known as the nine courtiers of King Akbar or Navratnas. However, in our recipe of Murgh Navratan, the Nine Gems are nine exotic dry fruits like almonds, pine nuts, raisins, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds etc.
The original recipe from Chef Arvind Saraswat specifies to use melon seeds but we substituted melon seeds with pumpkin seeds as we could not find melon seeds at the local grocery (I am sure we could have found it if we had made the effort). We love to cook the recipes that do not use the regular Indian curry base of tomato, ginger, garlic, cumin powder and coriander powder. This is one such unique recipe. The preparation takes a while but cooking is really simple.
When living in India we never bought dry fruits like sunflower seeds, melon seeds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts etc. Readers in India, please leave comments with your views on if these ingredients are easily and readily available at grocery stores in your area.
We hope you will enjoy watching us cook this exotic chicken curry as much as we enjoyed cooking it.
Chicken (cut into pieces) - 1.2 Kgs or 2 2/3 lbs; Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups; Salt – to taste; Ghee – 3/4 cup; Whole Garam Masala [Green Cardamom - 5; Black Cardamom - 1; Cloves - 5; Cinnamon - 1 inch; Bay Leaf - 1; Mace - 1 pinch]; Onions – 200gm or 7 oz; Ginger – 15 gm or 1/2 oz; Green Chilies – 4; Turmeric – 1/2 tsp; Red Chili Powder – 2 tsp; Heavy Cream – 1/2 cup; Mace Powder – 1/4 tsp; Cardamom Powder 1/4 tsp;
For the Shahi (royal) Paste:
Poppy Seeds – 2 Tbs; Almonds – 40 gm or 1/4 cup; Cashews – 40 gm or 1/4 cup; Pumpkin or Melon seeds – 2 Tbs;
For the Garnish (The Navratans or the Nine Gems):
Pistachio – 15; Almonds – 10; Cashews – 10; Walnuts (broken) – 1 Tbs; Macadamia Nuts – 1 Tbs; Sunflower Seeds – 1 Tbs; Pine Nuts – 1 Tbs; Pecans – 10; Raisins – 1 Tbs;
Feel free to substitute the dry fruits with your choice of dry fruits depending on availability.