Murg Zafrani

Murg Zafrani

Murg Zafrani is a gorgeous dish of whole chicken leg pieces cooked in thick tomato gravy with few selected spices and zafran. It goes well with paratha, naan or even plain roti (Indian flat bread) but, perhaps the best with – white rice cooked with butter, and mint chutney in the side.

Overall preparation time: Approx. 1 hour.

Proportion: For 3 persons.


  • Chicken leg with thigh (skinless) – 3 pieces.
  • 2 medium sized onions – julienne cuts.
  • Tomato purée – 200 ml.
  • Dry spices – turmeric powder, red chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri mirch), cinnamon powder, cumin powder, cardamom powder (optional) and freshly ground pepper – one tablespoon each.
  • Salt – according to taste.
  • Olive oil (alternatively any white oil) – 2 tablespoon.
  • Zafran (saffron) – few threads (8-10 threads)


  1. Pound the saffron strands to make it a powder and soak it in a quarter cup (about 50 ml) of cold water. Keep it soaked for at least 30 minutes before using it.
  2. Wash the chicken pieces and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Mix all the dry spices together and add salt into it.
  4. Rub well the spice mix into the chicken pieces, and let it season for at least 30 mins.
  5. Heat up oil in a pan (kadai) and put the chicken pieces in it. Fry the chicken pieces for about 3-4 minutes on each side, gently turning them couple of times.
  6. Once the chicken pieces turn bright golden in colour transfer them to a plate.
  7. Again, add a little bit of oil in the same pan (but if there is already sufficient oil in the pan then no need to add oil again) and put the juliennes of onion into it. Fry the onions till they turn golden in colour. (Be careful not to burn them)
  8. Add tomato purée. You may add a bit of salt here but, mind it because you already added salt in the spice mix for the chicken. Optionally, add a teaspoon of sugar (white or brown whatever you like) in it. Sauté for about 5 minutes or till you see it started releasing the oil.
  9. Put the chicken pieces back to the pan again. Add the zafran soaked water. Don’t stir the chicken pieces vigorously, rather, gently turn them few times to coat well with the gravy.
  10. Add a cup (around 200 ml.) of warm water and cook it covered (with a lid on) further for about 8-10 minutes or till the chicken pieces are well done and the gravy turns thicker (ultimately, the gravy of the dish should not be runny). One of the clear sign that chicken pieces are done is when the meat begins to come off the bones.
  11. After you put off the heat, keep it covered for 5 more minutes to complete the cooking process.


  • The chicken pieces must be well dried before rubbing it with spices.
  • When you intend to add water to make some gravy (curry) it is always advisable to add water that is mildly hot because cold water temporarily stops cooking.

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