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Chicken Changezi

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You are going to love this proper Old Delhi style chicken changezi!

These days, it seems everyone is trying to eat more healthily, including me. That’s a good thing but I have sure enjoyed my once a week splurge, preparing curries like this chicken changezi, jeera chicken, chicken shahi korma and numerous meat and chicken karahi curries. These curries are all quite oil heavy. They’re rich in flavour so you don’t need a lot to satisfy your curry cravings.

Chicken changezi is a curry I’ve had many times in India and I can hardly wait to return in September to a little restaurant I know in New Delhi. The place is always packed with people and watching the chefs prepare their famous changezi chicken curry in their open kitchen is just one of the things that makes the place so spectacular. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the place but I’ll be sure to post it here for you when I go back in a few months.

You can of course enjoy chicken changezi with plain basmati rice or a flavoured rice dish. Chicken changezi is normally served with naans or chapatis so that is the best option if you want to make this amazing chicken curry.

Chicken Changezi

What is chicken changezi?

Chicken Changezi is a delicious and aromatic curry that hails from the culinary traditions of the Mughal era in India.

With its roots in the royal kitchens of Delhi, you will love Chicken Changezi for its rich flavours, unique spice blend, and tender chicken. 

The dish also incorporates the richness of desi ghee (clarified butter) or oil, onions, tomatoes, yogurt, and cream. The chicken is first fried and then the other ingredients are added and slowly simmered to perfection.

The interesting history of chicken changezi

Chicken Changezi carries a regal heritage that goes all the way back to the Mughal empire. Legend has it that this dish was created during the reign of Emperor Genghis Khan, thus earning its name “Changezi” as a tribute to him. “Chengez” is how ‘Genghis’ is pronounced in Delhi, as in Changez Khan. It’s doubtful that Genghis Khan ever had the curry served to him but the name stuck.

Nowadays, you will find chicken changezi all over Delhi and Northern India. As popular curries go, it’s a close second to butter chicken and just as good. In fact, some will say it’s #1 in curries of the area.

How do you prepare this curry?

When you look at the recipe ingredients, you might wonder what makes chicken changezi unique. The ingredients you use to prepare chicken changezi can be found in many curries in northern India. It’s how you use those ingredients  that makes chicken changezi different.

So the secret to a good Chicken Changezi lies in its carefully selected spice blend and how all of the ingredients are added to the curry. First you marinated chicken. Then you fry it in ghee or oil to brown it before simmering covered for 20 minutes or until the chicken is about 80% cooked through.

Then you transfer the chicken and all the cooking juices to a bowl while you prepare the sauce.

Making the changezi sauce

You will find that preparing the sauce is quite straight forward. All you need to do is fry the onions and then add the garlic, ginger and chilli paste. You then add the ground spices and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes covered. That’s it! Or is it?

Chicken changezi vs Street Style changezi

Once you have simmered the sauce, you can simply add the chicken, yoghurt and cream and serve it up.

To make it street style, my personal favourite, you need to use another pan. Heat up some mustard oil and fry the sauce over a high heat. That’s when you add the chicken, yoghurt and cream along with a few other ingredients like garam masala and kasoori methi.

How do you prepare garlic, ginger and chilli paste?

Garlic, ginger and chilli paste is a key ingredient in chicken changezi. It’s easy to prepare. In fact, you make it the same way you do garlic and ginger paste.

You need to blend equal amounts of garlic and ginger with a little water to make a paste. Then blend in green finger chillies to taste. That’s it. Job done! You can make as much as you like as it does freeze well.

How long can you keep chicken changezi in the fridge?

You can keep this curry in the fridge for at least 3 days. It actually gets better sitting in the fridge as the flavours develop.

Can you freeze chicken changezi?

Yes. If you have some left over go ahead and freeze it for up to 6 months.

For best results, however, you should freeze the curry and chicken before you add the yoghurt and cream as dairy products don’t freeze well.

How do you reheat this curry?

You can reheat your chicken changezi in the microwave until heated through.

For best results, I recommend heating it up slowly in a saucepan.

Pro Tips

  1. Marination Magic: The key to tender and flavorful chicken in Chicken Changezi lies in the marination process. Ensure that you marinate the chicken for an adequate amount of time, preferably overnight, to allow the spices and yogurt to penetrate the meat and infuse it with their flavors. This step is essential for achieving succulent and well-seasoned chicken.
  2. Spice Balance: Chicken Changezi is known for its rich and aromatic spice blend. It’s important to strike the right balance of spices to create a harmonious flavour profile. You need to pay attention to the quantity of spices used and adjust them according to your personal preference. Be mindful not to overpower the dish with any particular spice, allowing the flavours to shine through in a well-rounded manner.
  3. Slow and Steady Cooking: To fully develop the flavors and ensure the chicken is cooked to perfection, adopt my slow cooking approach. When you return the chicken to the sauce, you should allow the chicken to simmer gently, absorbing the rich flavours. Patience is key here, as giving the chicken a good simmer in the sauce will add more flavour. It only needs about five minutes as you add all the cooking juices from the fried chicken too.

 

Step by step photos.

Ingredients for chicken changezi.

Get all of your ingredients together before you start. There are a lot of them and it’s easier that way.

Marinating the chicken

Marinate the chicken in the simple marinade and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Frying the marinated chicken

Fry the chicken to brown it on both sides. Then you need to reduce the heat to low and cover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is about 80% cooked through.

The cooked chicken

Transfer the chicken and all the juices from the pan to a bowl.

Frying the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli.

Now add more oil or ghee and fry the onions for about 7 minutes or until they are golden brown in colour. Then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli paste.

Adding the ground spices to the pan.

Stir in the ground spices.

Water added to the spices so that they don't burn.

Your pan will quickly become quite dry. Add about 70ml (1/4 cup) water so that you don’t burn the spices.

Adding the water or chicken stock to the pan to simmer.

Add the water or chicken stock and cover to simmer for 20 minutes.

Is your chicken changezi ready to serve now?

Yes. You could just add the cooked chicken, yoghurt and cream at this time and you will have a delicious chicken changezi.

That said, if you want to try this street style, you have a couple more steps to go.

Simmering the changezi gravy.

For street style changezi, heat the mustard oil in a frying pan over a high heat and add the changezi gravy one ladle at a time.

Adding the yoghurt to the pan.

Whisk in the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time.

Adding the cream to the chicken changezi.

Then add the cream.

Adding the cooked chicken, kasoori methi and garam masala to the gravy.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the garam masala and kasoori methi.

Chicken changezi ready to serve.

That photo you see above is how it’s served in Delhi. I ended up skimming a lot of the oil off the top. Not too much though!

Chicken Changezi

Serve sprinkled with more chilli powder if you like, julienned ginger and sliced chillies. A good squeeze of lemon is also very good.

Chicken changezi

Dig in!

If you like this chicken changezi, you might like to have a go at some of these popular chicken curries too.

Chicken Majestic
Jamaican One Pot Chicken Curry
Chicken Methi Curry
Restaurant Style Chicken Chaat
Chicken Katsu Curry
Shahi Chicken Korma
Jeera Chicken
Chicken Coconut Curry
Green Chilli Chicken Curry
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
Restaurant Style Chicken Tikka Masala
Goan Chicken Vindaloo
Chinese Chicken Curry
Japanese Chicken Curry

Have you tried this chicken changezi?

If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

Yield: 4 - 6

Chicken Changezi

Chicken Changezi
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CHICKEN
  • 1kg (2 lbs.) chicken, on the bone and cut into small pieces
  • ½ - 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 ½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli power (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp garlic, ginger and chilli paste
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or preferably ghee
  • FOR THE CURRY
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or preferably ghee
  • 3 medium sized red onion, very finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp garlic, ginger and chilli paste
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala or black salt (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) water or stock
  • 600ml (2 ½ cups) passata
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) mustard oil (optional)
  • 4 tbsp plain natural yoghurt, whisked until smooth
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • TO GARNISH (All optional)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 4 green bird’s eye chillies, sliced lengthwise into fine strips
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, peeled and julienned

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients up to and including the garlic, ginger and chilli paste. Rub the marinade right into the flesh and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or just go straight to cooking.
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in a large frying pan that has a lid over a medium-high heat. When visibly hot, add the chicken and fry for about 4 minutes and then turn the pieces to brown the other side.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is about 80% cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and pour all the juices from the pan over the chicken. Set aside.
  4. Now let’s make the curry! Heat the oil or ghee in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the chopped onions and ½ teaspoon salt and fry, stirring regularly for about 8 minutes or until they are golden brown in colour.
  5. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli paste and fry for a further minute. Stir in the ground spices and then pour in about 70ml (1/4 cup) water or stock so that the spices don’t burn and bring to a simmer.
  6. Now add the passata and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and continue simmering over a medium heat for about 20 minutes. Your changezi gravy is ready and you could just stir in the yoghurt and cream and add the chicken and salt to taste at this point and enjoy. If you want to make it street food style, however, you have a few more steps.
  7. In another large frying pan, heat 70ml mustard oil over a medium-high heat. When visibly hot, add the prepared gravy one ladle at a time and let it all come to a simmer. Stir in the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time and then stir in the cream.
  8. Sprinkle in the garam masala and kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and season with salt to taste. Stir in the cooked chicken and bring the sauce to a bubbling simmer to heat the chicken through, ensuring the chicken is nicely coated with the sauce and then add all or some garnishes of your choice.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 497Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 1403mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 25g

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I hope you enjoy this traditional chicken changezi recipe. If you do try it or if you have any recipe questions, please leave a comment.

Sunil

Sunday 21st of January 2024

Gave this a go. Amazing flavours, lovely curry. I used crème fraiche instead of cream. Coupled with the yoghurt, they brought down the heat of the chillies to a warming spicy curry.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 25th of January 2024

Great to hear, thanks very much for letting me know. Dan

Charles

Sunday 26th of November 2023

Made it yesterday and the thought of it makes me smile. Absolutely delicious. If you are wavering about making this then waver no more. Go ahead and make it.

Dan Toombs

Monday 27th of November 2023

Thanks very much, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Dan

Lynne

Friday 6th of October 2023

Absolutely delicious! Restaurant quality even though I made a couple of mistakes. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

Dan Toombs

Monday 9th of October 2023

Great to hear, thank you. Dan

Jayne

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

How is chicken that is only cooked to 80 percent done ready to serve?!! You clearly say Yes it is ready to serve. You say that you could simmer it with the sauce but telling people to eat 80 percent done chicken is really bad advice. Former restaurant manager and I later worked for the Dept of Health. Please explain this to people better. Thank you.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Thank you for your input but I think you have only read the first part of the recipe. The chicken is only part cooked at the beginning because it is added to the curry sauce at a later stage in the recipe when it is fully cooked through. I obviously would not instruct people to eat raw chicken. Dan

Graeme Connell

Thursday 3rd of August 2023

Dan, I have just made the Chicken Changezi finishing the street food way. I’ve made a lot of your dishes over the years and this is now my new favourite. Absolutely excellent and so full of flavour - love it!!

Graeme Connell

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

@Dan Toombs, I’m going to New Delhi next week did you go back to the restaurant where you had the Changezi and if so can you let me know the name and roughly where it is? Thanks

Dan Toombs

Friday 11th of August 2023

Really good to hear, thanks for letting me know. Dan

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