Murgh cholay or chicken cholay is a hearty, dhaba-style chicken curry. Bone-in chicken, tomato paste, chickpeas, and ground spices go into creating the magic of this flavorful one-pot dish. It is best had with breads like naan or tandoori roti. Perfect for potlucks or weekend dinners!
The weather has cooled and what better way to spend a weekend evening than to cosy up with a hot bowl of murgh cholay and naan? It is a chunky, warming chicken curry loaded with spiced chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes.
What I like about this chicken and chickpea curry is that you don't need anything fancy to make it. No premade masala (sorry, Shan!) or bottled curry base. Nope! Just good ol' chicken, regular pantry ingredients, yogurt, and some common Indian spices in the right combination are all you'll need.
Note: exact amounts are mentioned in the recipe card further down.
Cooking oil - any neutral oil like canola or sunflower can be used. I like using a mild and light-tasting olive oil for all my cooking as it is healthier than seed oils and does not have an after-taste. Don't use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil though.
Onions - Red onions sliced fine.
Wet masala ingredients - onions, ginger and garlic chopped roughly and ground into a paste.
Chicken - bone-in, skinless chicken is the way to go for South-Asian curries. Don't use boneless chicken breasts as these will not impart the same flavor as bone-in chicken and turn rubbery with all the cooking.
Ground spices - regular spice powders like coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder and garam masala are all you need.
Tomato paste - canned tomato paste works best here. You can whiz fresh tomatoes in the blender but usually, the resulting puree is not concentrated enough for this recipe.
Yogurt - unflavoured, unsweetened Indian yogurt or 'dahi' is what you need. Try not to use Greek yogurt.
Chickpeas - you need cooked chickpeas here. You can prep your chickpeas from scratch if you want in the instant pot or any other pressure cooker, but if you're in a hurry, canned chickpeas are the way to go. I almost always have a can of chickpeas lying somewhere in my pantry, so I took the easy way out and opened the can while making this recipe!
Kasuri methi - this is dried fenugreek, and it adds a ton of flavor to the curry. Easily available in Indian or Pakistani groceries or even the international aisle of most supermarkets.
Green chillies - any kind will do as long as you know the heat level. I used Thai green chillies, but if you are sensitive to heat, use a milder variety. Try not to skip green chillies though as these too add a lot of flavor.
🔪 How to make murgh cholay
1. Slice the onion finely.
2. Put the wet masala ingredients (chopped onions, ginger, and garlic) in a blender with a few tablespoons of water and blend to a smooth paste.
1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the sliced onions. Fry until caramelized.
2. Add the wet ground masala you prepared earlier and fry for 4-5 minutes on high heat.
3. Add the chicken and dry ground spices (coriander, turmeric, red chilli, and garam masala). Mix well and fry on high heat for 5 minutes. Add ½ cup water and cover the pan. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the yogurt and tomato paste and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
5. Drain the can of chickpeas, rinse, and add to the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the chickpeas are coated with the masala (curry).
6. Add slit green chillies and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek). Give the chicken a stir and switch off the heat. Cover the pan again and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with naan or pita bread.
💭 Top tips
1. This is a semi-dry curry, so there's enough sauce to mop up with the bread, but it should not be too thin. Don't be tempted to add lots of water!
2. Most subcontinental curries make use of a whole bone-in, skinless chicken cut into 14 pieces. The butcher usually does this for you, but if you are buying your chicken from a supermarket, for example, bone-in chicken thighs, that should work too. Just remove the skins.
3. The chickpeas absorb a lot of the spices and masala, so don't be stingy with these. If you add less than the amounts mentioned, your curry will not taste as good.
🥗 Side dishes
1. With any kind of chicken curry, some kind of bread is a must. Try this whole wheat naan for the perfect combination.
2. You can, of course, have it with rice too if that's what you like. Plain white basmati rice works well, but if you want to take things up a notch, check out this cumin rice recipe.
3. Want to make things even fancier? Try chicken cholay with a side of potatoes, like these Bombay Potatoes.
For more options for side dishes, do see this post - 20+ Best Side Dishes for Chicken Curry. You will be spoiled for choice!
More chicken curry recipes to try
- White chicken karahi
- Chicken kali mirch (pepper chicken)
- Boneless chicken handi
- Madras chicken
- Palak chicken (spinach chicken curry)
Murgh Cholay (Chicken and Chickpea Curry)
- 1 Blender
- 1 large and deep pan
- ½ cup cooking oil
- 1 red onion medium-sized, sliced fine
- 1 red onion medium-sized, chopped roughly
- 8 garlic cloves chopped
- 2" piece ginger chopped
- 1 whole chicken medium-sized, bone-in, skinless, cut into 14 pieces
- 1 ½ tablespoon coriander powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste canned
- 2 tablespoon yogurt
- 1 can chickpeas
- 4 green chillies slit lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
- Slice one red onion finely.
- Put the wet masala ingredients (chopped onions, ginger, and garlic) in a blender with a few tablespoons of water and blend to a smooth paste.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the sliced onions. Fry until caramelized.
- Add the wet ground masala you prepared earlier and fry for 4-5 minutes on high heat.
- Add the chicken and dry ground spices (coriander, turmeric, red chilli, and garam masala). Mix well and fry on high heat for 5 minutes. Add ½ cup water and cover the pan. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and yogurt cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Drain the can of chickpeas, rinse, and add to the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the chickpeas are coated with the masala (curry).
- Add slit green chillies and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek). Give the chicken a stir and switch off the heat. Cover the pan again and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with naan or pita bread.
- Kasuri methi or dried fenugreek is easily available in any Indian or Pakistani grocery or the international aisle of a big supermarket.
- Don't add a lot of water as the sauce will become too thin. You want a thick sauce for this recipe.