Contemporary Culinary Creations

Chicken Bharta

Chicken Bharta
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Chicken Bharta with a twist

Chicken Bharta made with leftover cooked chicken

What do you guys do with your leftover chicken dishes?
Last night, we decided to make a simple Mexican dinner. Of course, Chicken Tacos were on the menu. But after a round of chips with guac and salsa, we did not have much tummy-space for a lot of tacos. But somehow after squeezing in a taco or two, we had quite a bit of leftover of the shredded chicken filling cooked in taco spices. Now, I had to do something with it and … this unique Chicken Bharta came into being!

Chicken Bharta or Chicken Bhorta (means mashed in Bengali) as we Bongs like to call it is a favorite North-Indian(Punjabi) chicken dish in reality. But somewhere down the line, we Bongs have made it our own as we did for many other recipes adopted from different cultures. Since a Bong kitchen was already familiar with the idea of other mashed vegetable and fish dishes (also known as Bhortas), I think to adopt this mashed (almost) chicken dish as their own came to them quite naturally.

This particular chicken bharta is slightly twisted as it is cooked with the leftover taco-spiced shredded chicken. Yup, it’s true. I had to do something with the leftovers to use it up. Now bharta is cooked with shredded chicken, so this was the most common choice. Also the creamy texture of the bharta pairs well with both rice and bread hence it is a good choice when cooking for the mass. Also both Mexican and Indian kitchens share a lot of common spices, gadgets and cooking techniques, so I guess interchanging a dish of one cuisine into another is the easiest option that comes to mind.

When reading the recipe, keep in mind, I have used a pre-cooked chicken which already had a lot of spices. Hence my spice quantity is lesser than usual. If you are cooking from scratch, use your own judgement for the spice quantities.

  • Author: Contempo
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Non-Veg
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian

Ingredients

  • Cooked Chicken (I used leftover taco spiced chicken, you can use cooked shredded chicken) – 2 cups
  • Whole spices – 1 Cinnamon stick (medium sized), 4 green cardamoms, 3-4 cloves, 1 bay leaf
  • Onion chopped – 1 cup
  • Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tablespoon
  • Tomato puree – 1 cup
  • Green chillies (finely chopped) – 2 medium sized (increase or decrease as per your requirements)
  • Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Heavy cream – 2 tablespoons
  • Kasoori methi – a couple of pinches crushed well with fingers
  • Butter – 1/8th of a stick (I cooked with a combination of butter and white oil, you can use only butter or oil as per your preference)
  • Cilantro – a fistful finely chopped
  • Salt and sugar – as per your taste

Instructions

  • Take a wok and heat butter with oil or either of them exclusively as per your choice. (If using only oil, I would suggest using any kind of white oil meaning vegetable/soy bean oil).
  • Temper the oil with the whole spices.
  • Once the tempering starts emitting a nice aroma, add the chopped onion and add a pinch of sugar.
  • After browning the sugar nicely, add the ginger garlic pastes to it.
  • Cook till the raw smell go ginger garlic paste is gone and then add the tomato puree.
  • Stir for a minute or two till everything mixed well into a sauce consistency. Add little water if needed.
  • Add all the powdered spices one by one except the Garam Masala which we will preserve till the end.
  • Add a bit of sugar as per your discretion. This dish is a bit on the sweeter side so add accordingly.
  • Give a good mix and let the masalas cook on a lower flame. You may add a bit of warm water if you think the sauce is sticking to the bottom of the pan or you can add chicken stock alternatively which lends a nice flavor to the dish.
  • When the oil starts separating from the dish you will know that the spices are cooked properly.
  • Add the chicken and give a good mix with the prepared sauce. 
  • Cover the wok with a lid and let the chicken cook in the sauce in a very low flame for at least 15-20 minutes. Make sure there is enough moisture in the sauce and it is not sticking on the bottom of the wok.
  • If you think it may stick then add a bit of warm water or chicken stock or normal water, whichever is most easily available at hand.
  • Add half of the green chillies to the sauce.
  • Once the chicken is well blend in the sauce, add the heavy whipping cream and mix it nicely with the sauce.
  • Sprinkle the garam masala all over nicely, mix it well.
  • Add the kasoori methi and give one final mix.
  • Check salt and sugar for seasoning one last time.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro, leftover green chillies and a bit more of cream(optional) and serve warm with rice or bread.

Notes

  1. If you are cooking the chicken from scratch, try take a meat heavy boneless piece like the breast.
  2. After boiling the chicken, store the stock and use it in the dish instead of water. 
  3. If cooking with taco-spiced or any other pre-cooked chicken with any other spices, alter the above mentioned spices accordingly, otherwise, it might end up being over spicy.

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Bharta”

  • What a great idea! Really enjoyed your post. This post reminded me of my mother-in law, who is the queen of “repurposing” leftovers. She can somehow make a completely new meal out of Chinese take-out, pasta, and curried chicken! I sometimes use store-bought rotisserie chicken as a base for repurposing, and it would work well in your chicken Bharta recipe above.

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