Chicken Kabuli (Murgh Kabuli)

"This mild and flavourful dish comes from Julie Sahni's 1980 book, Classic Indian Cookery. She adapted it from a dish served at the Akbar India Restaurant in New York City (which I think is now closed). I am posting this for some former exchange students who are going through severe Kabuli withdrawal. I often make this a day in advance. A few comments. I think Julie Sahni writes some of the clearest recipes on the planet -- and she does so without being patronising. Check out her books (and note that I have abbreviated some instructions slightly). Also, I wonder if Kabuli means the recipe is influenced by dishes from Kabul, Afghanistan. Finally, I have never timed this accurately, so the prep time is a bit of a guess."
photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart
photo by PaulaG photo by PaulaG
photo by Jubes photo by Jubes
photo by Jubes photo by Jubes
photo by Karen Elizabeth photo by Karen Elizabeth
Ready In:
1hr 15mins


  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered (about 375 grams/12 ounces)
  • 250 g plain yogurt (8 ounces)
  • 180 ml vegetable oil (6 ounces)
  • 1 12 kg chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cubed (3 pounds)
  • 12 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons blanched almonds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 12 teaspoon fennel, ground
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 125 ml double cream (4 ounces)
  • 2 -3 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 4 -5 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (coriander)


  • Buzz the garlic, ginger, tomatoes and yogurt in a food processor until they are a fine purée.
  • Combine the oil and the puréed mixture in a large heavy-bottomed pan, preferably one with a non-stick surface. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and cook -- stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning -- until the mixture reduces to a thick sauce and the fat begins to separate (about 15 minutes). It splatters some toward the end, so stay alert.
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring rapidly, until they lose their pink colour and begin to sear slightly (about 5 minutes), but do not let them brown.
  • Add the mace, nutmeg, almonds, cardamon, cumin, coriander, fennel and salt, and mix well.
  • Reduce heat, cover the pan and let the chicken cook in its own juices for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and continue cooking for another 15 minutes (or until the chicken is fork tender).
  • Stir in the cream, black pepper and cilantro/coriander leaves, and turn off heat.
  • Let the dish rest, covered, for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, reheat thoroughly, check for salt and serve.

Questions & Replies

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  1. This has to be one of the most delicious curries I have made and eaten for a long, long time! And, I KNOW my curries! Well written and easy to follow, and well worth the effort of making up all your own spice mix and paste for this recipe. A VERY authentic curry flavour - which probably does originate from Afghanistan, as they use a lot of yoghurt, cardamom and coriander in their cooking. I cut this in half and made enough for four people - we had friends over for a curry lunch! As Malcolm does not like chicken breasts, I made this up with a mixture of boned legs, and thighs, as well as breasts. I used LOTS of coriander and also garnished the curry with flaked almonds, and yet MORE chopped coriander leaves! I served this with my own Recipe #208297. I am adding this to my All Time Favourites Cookbook......just divine Oh Leggy One!!! Made for PAC Autumn 2007 - and my last recipe for this little bird, who is ready to fly the nest - thanks for providing me with such wonderful and innovative recipes to make Leggy - BRILLIANT! FT:-)
  2. This was really, really good, but staying true to the way I rate, I can't give it 5 stars. I used two tablepoons of oil (not 9) and when it looked like it might catch as the chicken was cooking, added a few tablepoons of water. I knew 1 tablespoon of salt was way too much for us so used 1 1/2 teaspoons of black salt (found in Indian grocers). Perfect. I don't like nutmeg, so halved that and omitted the mace (they come from the same tree). I believe curry should be made with bones in if at all possible, so used thigh cutlets and cooked about 30 minutes with the lid on in step 5. I'll be making this again really soon as it's wonderful made to suit us.
  3. I've made this twice and loved it both times. I do end up with too much sauce, but that's fine because it's delicious and can be soaked up with rice or naan. I followed the recipe very closely. I usually find chicken breasts way too dry, but that's not a problem with this dish. Thanks for sharing.
  4. First of all, this is a very rich dish. And yes you do need to use a considerable amount of oil to make out properly. Not nine tbsb, but least 4.<br/><br/>My introduction to Indian food as a kidwas Akbar on Park Avenue in the late 70's. I know this dish intimately.
  5. Reviewed for Aus/NZ Forum Recipe Swap Oct 2010. Delicious- mild, flavourful, spicey and creamy. My whole family enjoyed this one :) Didn't have any mace and couldn't find any at the left that one out. Definitely worth the making and even though there seemed to be a lot of ingredients and instructions/steps....this recipe really was easy to make and not too involved. Also the flavours really did well worth making in advance. Photos also being posted. Thankyou for posting this wonderful recipe Peggy


<p>Thanks so much for visiting my page.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I love to cook and travel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I'm originally from Nebraksa and now live in Australia. Have also been lucky enough to live in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Burma.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the beginning of 2009, hubby and I have visited all seven continents. We've cooked and travelled in Africa and Antarctica, from London across Asia to Sydney, around Australia, around South America, and across India, Europe, Canada and the USA. Most of our travels have been by road and we've covered more than 150,000 kilometres. It's been fun to learn about food and recipes from all over the globe, and most of the souvenirs I bring home are cookbooks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're interested in seeing some of our trip and menu highlights, please visit my travel blog at or my food blog at</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks also to everyone who has made, reviewed and/or photographed any of my recipes. Most appreciated.</p>
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