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Chicken Rajpipla – A Unique Royal Indian Recipe

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Chicken Rajpipla is a unique recipe that comes from Rajpipla, a small town on the banks of the Narmada river in Gujarat. Very close to the Statue of Unity. Rajpipla was a 13 Gun Salute princely state from the 14th century to when it was integrated with the Indian republic in 1948. In the modern era, Rajpipla came into focus with the ascension of Maharaja Vijaysinhji ChhatraSinhji Sahib to the throne in 1915. He was a charming and suave ruler, also known for his great administration.

He was a fond equestrian and well known for his love for horses, food, and the good life. His horses won the Indian Derby, the Irish Derby, and the Belgian Grand Prix. But his shining moment was winning the prestigious Epsom Derby in England in 1934 with his horse Windsor Lad. Maharaja Vijaysinhji was also fond of cooking and his most popular recipe was the Chicken Rajpipla.

Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s statue in Rajpipla. Photo courtesy singhiv.wordpress.com

I’d first come across this recipe when I was interacting with Nilufer Dhondy, a fabulous cook who specialises in Parsi food. Though Chicken Rajpipla is not a traditional Parsi dish, it has crept into the cuisine possibly because of both being in Gujarat. The dish has now been adopted by Parsis as their own. The use of Worcestershire sauce in this recipe is quite unique and usually not found in Indian dishes. This’s a proprietary sauce created by Lea & Perrins in the city of Worcester, England. It contains anchovies and is used mostly to flavour meat dishes. It’s also rumoured to have a connection to India

The Chicken Rajpipla’s a fun recipe and is possibly influenced by Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s many travels to Britain and exposure to dishes there. He loved cooking and the Chicken Rajpipla would’ve been the result of one such experiment. He was also a great host and loved socialising. This dish was served on many of these occasions and over time gained cult status.

Chicken Rajpipla Recipe

This’s probably not Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s original recipe and is the one adapted by Parsis in their cooking.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

~Boneless chicken (thigh part cut into large cubes) – 800 gram
~Ghee (you can replace with any vegetable oil) – 6 tablespoon (100 gram)
~Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoon (30 gram)
~Egg yolk – 2 number
~Plain yogurt (beaten) – 1 cup (250 gram)
~Onions (finely chopped) – 2 medium size
~Garlic (made into a paste) – 4 cloves (15 gram)
~Ginger – 1 inch (15 gram)
~Tomato paste (you can also use ketchup, then reduce the sugar quantity to half) – 3 tablespoon (45 gram)
~Grain mustard – 2 tablespoon (30 gram)
~Shahi jeera – 1 teaspoon (5 gram)
~Freshly ground garam masala powder – ½ teaspoon (2 gram)
~Kashmiri red chilly powder – 1 teaspoon (5 gm)
~Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon (a pinch)
~Sugar (unrefined) – 1 teaspoon (5 gram)
~Salt – 1 teaspoon (5 gram) or to taste

Method – Marinate the chicken in yogurt, half the Worcestershire sauce, red chilly powder, turmeric, grain mustard and tomato paste for at least 30 minutes. Heat the ghee in a karahi or a big size saucepan on medium heat. Add the shahi jeera when the oil gets hot, cook for 5-6 seconds, then add the finely chopped onion and fry till golden brown. Then the ginger and garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken with the marinade. Cover and cook till the chicken is done. Keep adding a small amount of water from time to time. So that the gravy doesn’t become too thick. Add the salt, sugar, garam masala and cook for 1 minute. Make a mixture of beaten egg yolk and the remaining half of Worcestershire sauce. Take the chicken off the fire and add in the egg mixture. Mix well. The gravy should be thick and coat the chicken pieces, but not too thick. Your delicious Chicken Rajpipla is ready.

In case, you’re making a vegetarian version with paneer or veggies, please remember that Worcestershire sauce has anchovies and is non vegetarian. You should also avoid in case of fish allergy.

Happy cooking and chowder-on!

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