Chicken Keema Ghugni

Chicken Keema Ghugni

It was about time that I booted this recipe of Chicken Keema Ghugni out of the draft section. Especially, since I had made this perhaps a lifetime back! I just kept forgetting all about it! Then I forgot how I had made it! It was while I was searching for an email, that I discovered that I had documented all of it and saved it as a ‘draft email’. I mean, who does that?

My closest friends know how confused I get when it comes to lentils/pulses/legumes and their names in different languages – a disgrace for a foodie, no? Albeit an Indian/Bengali one.  I am sure they get frustrated with me, when for I ask them whether chana daal is the same as chholar daal for the nth time ! But I am a foodie alright, just a dysfunctional one who suffers from ‘short-time memory loss’. So yeah..  I called my friend to ask her what Ghugni Motor (what we called it back at home) is called in Hindi/English. I just could not remember what Ghugni Motor looked like in real life.  Duh! And then, at one time I was convinced that I had made the Ghugni with chana daal. Goodness me!
 Chicken Keema Ghugni

Ma.. you are like Dory..

“Ma, you know you are like Dory – you suffer from short ‘time’ memory loss” – chirped the 7.5 yo one morning. I had made the grave mistake of asking him the same question 3 times within a span of 10 minutes. And this was one of those rare times when he had responded each time.  In my defense, that morning, both of us had slept through the alarm. I was running around like a headless chicken, trying to get him ready for school. But yeah, I do have trouble remembering things! My ‘short-time’ memory loss has only gotten worse in the past couple of years!

And before you point it out that it is actually short-term and not short-time, well I just like all the cute distorted versions my son comes up with! Also, I do not want to undermine the challenges faced by those who actually have been diagnosed with short-term memory loss by real doctors.


Ghugni is a very popular Bengali snack that, ahem, I am not too fond of. I have seen Bengalis salivate at the mere mention of it at potlucks and such, while I would turned up my nose at it (in my mind of course). But that ended when I tasted Mangsher Ghugni – it was Ghugni cooked with tender bite sized pieces of mutton – a rich, aromatic and extremely flavorful non-vegetarian version of the quintessential Ghugni. Now I cannot eat mutton – it makes me sick. I am dysfunctional in more than one way you see! So I tried to re-create it with ground chicken. It wasn’t as badass as Mutton Keema Ghugni but it was pretty darned good.

I could not find any recipes for Chicken Keema Ghugni online, so pretty much made it how I would make Chicken Chili except with Indian spices, cubed potatoes and Dried Yellow Peas.

Chicken Keema Ghugni

Story behind the props

The props in the photos are mostly sourced from Kolkata (India) in 2015 except for the glasses which I picked up from IKEA. Those were the closest to ‘cutting chai’ glasses that I could lay my hands upon. Our trip to Kolkata in 2015 was a sudden and sad one.  My father-in-law passes away suddenly and shopping was definitely not  on my cards during the 5 weeks that we were there. But 3 days before our return, my best friend took me out for the day! Breakfast, prop shopping and a lot of chit-chat happened. Mostly loads of chit-chat. I miss that. Especially now that our timings do not match at all and I haven’t talked to her in a while! Talked as had in real conversation on the phone. I am old-school and do not consider the three-line ‘conversations’ on FB Messenger or WhatsApp to be ‘talking’.

For this Chicken Keema Ghugni recipe we use Dried Yellow Peas which is sold under the name of Vatana in the Indian grocery stores.

You will find the recipe for Bhaja Moshla that I used for this recipe here.
Bhaja Moshla

 Ingredients for Chicken Keema Ghugni

Serving size – about 2-4 depending on how Ghugni crazy your guests or family are! Ha ha!
Dried Yellow Peas – 1 Cup, washed and soaked overnight
1lb pound (450gm) of ground chicken or chicken keema, browned
2 small potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
2 tsp of garlic paste
1 tsp of grated ginger
3/4 tsp of Garam Masala Powder (homemade, preferably)
1 bay leaf
Whole Garam Masala – 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 pod of green cardamom (split), 1 clove
1 tsp red chili powder or paprika or Kashmiri Mirch
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
A handful of cilantro, chopped
2 cups of warm water
Salt to taste
For garnish use finely chopped onions, sliced green chilies, lemon wedges and a generous sprinkle of Bhaja Moshla
Chicken Keema Ghugni

How to make Chicken Keema Ghugni

Step 1.
My shiny red pressure cooker is just as dysfunctional as I am. It takes way longer to accomplish a simple task. It took more than 2 whistles that my Ma had suggested to get the Ghugni motor to be cooked perfectly – tender yet with a toothy bite. Anyhoo, pressure cook the soaked lentils, drain the water and keep aside.
Step 2.
Brown the ground chicken. Add 1 tsp of oil to a skillet and fry the ground chicken till all the pinkness is gone. Using a wooden spoon, break down the clumps of meat as you go. Keep aside.
Step 3.
Heat one tbsp. of oil to a kadai or wok and fry the cubed potatoes, till lightly golden brown on all sides. These do not need to be fully cooked since these will finish cooking in the final step.
Add one tbsp. of oil to the same kadai or wok, and temper it with the bay leaf, and the whole garam masala and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Next the grated ginger and garlic paste goes in. Cook for couple of minutes till the raw smell goes away. Throw in tomatoes along with the spices – paprika/Kashmiri mirch powder/red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder. Cook till the oil separates. Now add the browned chicken, cooked dried yellow peas and cooked potatoes. Mix everything together, season with salt  and let the flavors mingle, while stirring continuously. Stir in the warm water, reduce the heat and cover and cook till the potatoes soften. Mix in the chopped cilantro and take it off the heat.

Before serving, squeeze lemon juice on it, sprinkle Bhaja Moshla generously and garnish with chopped onions, chopped cilantro and chopped green chilies.


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