The lost British Raj recipe that found a place in Bengali cuisine

The lost British Raj recipe that found a place in Bengali cuisine

Dak Bungalow Chicken is a classic Anglo-Indian dish, which is a part of Bengali cuisine. This subtle yet flavoursome chicken curry hails from the British colonial-era India, which was a quintessential delicacy crafted by Indian cooks mindfully created with spices and herbs slow cooked with chicken to please the British palate. Here’s the lesser known story of this classic chicken dish loved by British officers and officials.Read on…

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Born of out necessity
The word ‘Dak’ represented the postal system in Bengali and the lavish chicken curry got its name from the Dak Bungalow, which was basically the circuit house allotted to British officials, who were posted in remote areas with limited access to food.


This dish was made by the local cooks of the circuit houses to cater to the palates of British officers. Thus, the taste and texture of the delicacy had a close resemblance to Bengali cuisine, which later became a popular part of the culinary culture of Bengal and found its place in the heart of every ‘Khatti Bangali’.

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The Raj influence
Chicken Dak Bungalow and other delicacies of the region had a strong influence of the British culinary culture, which was amalgamated with local ingredients and spices, curated to please the taste buds of officials and officers who were posted in Bengal. Well, if this Anglo-Indian dish has already left you yearning for a piece of history? Then here’s an elaborate recipe of the Chicken Dak Bungalow, which you can recreate in your kitchen and indulge in a culinary voyage!

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How to make Dak Bungalow Chicken
Ingredients for the Marination
500 grams of chicken, 1 cup plain curd, 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste,1 teaspoon red chili powder,1 teaspoon turmeric powder,1 teaspoon garam masala, salt to taste
Ingredients for the Curry
2 tablespoons vegetable oil,2 onions, 2 tomatoes, 2-3 green chilies,1 teaspoon cumin seeds,1 bay leaf, 4-5 cloves, 2-3 green cardamom pods, 1-inch cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, salt to taste, fresh coriander leaves for garnish, potatoes (optional).

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To begin with this easy recipe, take the chicken pieces and wash them nicely, pat dry and marinate.
To prepare the marinade, combine the curd, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and salt in a bowl and whisk it well.
Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, making sure they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or marinate overnight.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, green cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Saute for a minute or until aromatic.
Add the chopped onions and green chilies. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they become soft and the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
Stir in the coriander powder and red chili powder. Cook for some minutes until the spices are nicely cooked. Next, add in the marinated chicken pieces along with the marinade to the pan. Stir well to coat the chicken with the spice mixture.
Cook the chicken on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until it starts to brown.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the chicken simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until it’s cooked through and the oil begins to separate. You may need to add a splash of water if the curry gets too dry.
Adjust the seasoning and then garnish with coriander leaves and remove from heat. Serve Dak Bungalow Chicken hot with steamed rice and enjoy!

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Author: Shirley