claypot chicken

Claypot chicken, or murgh ka dum, murgh dum pukht, or, as the British referred to it, dum-poked chicken is a spicy and aromatic baked chicken dish.

The chicken is marinated overnight, then baked in a sealed pot. It is easy to prepare, as everything goes into the pot for marination and then is placed into the oven to cook.

Dum-poked chicken was a great favourite with the Raj, and records of this recipe go back to the early 1800s CE in recipe books from that time.

The traditional Indian recipe dates back a lot further than that.

This is another dish that shows its Persian heritage. Whilst there are Mughlai versions, and Awadhi versions, this version, typical of Hyderabadi cuisine, was the one that the our family adopted. The reason they took on this variation is probably due to its unsophisticated approach, with plenty of chillies, and robust spices. The British were not subtle, generally.

The Awadhi version has no green chillies and uses Kashmiri chilli in place of the normal red chilli powder. It also has much more cardamom and cloves, and twice as much yoghurt. It produces a far more aromatic, gentle dish.

The important techniques in this recipe are the making of the pastes.

The nut paste is used to thicken the sauce in the dish. This type of paste is used in many of the Mughlai recipes in this book. The onion paste is a tradition of Hyderabadi cuisine, as is the coriander-chilli paste. The garlic-ginger paste is a staple of southern Indian cooking.

Could you throw all the ingredients in a blender and make one paste? Yes, you could. Thousands of Indian mothers don’t, so, why should you?

This recipe is based on layering the flavours, so the traditional approach is the best way to achieve this.

For dinner party theatre, you might cook this in your favourite clay pot, take it to the table, unseal it, and finish it in front of your guests.

This is best served with plain rice or chapatis, and with a kachumber on the side. Because of the overnight marination, you will need to start this dish the day before.

the recipe

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  • clay pot - see notes


  • 800 g chicken thigh fillets - cut into 5cm pieces

for the masala

to cook

  • 2 tbsp ghee

to serve

  • 1 lime - juiced
  • 1 cup coriander leaves - coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves - coarsely chopped


for the masala

  • Heat one teaspoon of ghee in a small frypan, add the onions and sprinkle with the salt. Fry for 10-15 minutes or until a deep golden brown, then set aside to cool.
  • Make the masala powder by placing the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, mace, green cardamom pods and black cardamom pods into a small pan on medium heat. Toss frequently while toasting them until they become very aromatic. Remove from heat, allow to cool, then grind to a fine powder.
  • Make a smooth paste from the cashew nuts by grinding them with as little water as possible.
  • Make a ginger-garlic paste by blending the ginger and garlic with a little water.
  • Make a coriander-chilli paste by blending the coriander stalks and green chillies with a little water.
  • Blend the reserved fried onions with a little water to make a smooth paste.
  • Using a clay pot with a tight lid, add the chicken, masala powder, chilli powder, ground turmeric and garam masala. Toss the chicken well to cover it with the spices.
  • Now add the onion paste, nut paste, ginger-garlic paste and coriander-chilli paste, and mix gently, but well.
  • Add the curry leaves and yoghurt, then mix well, as above. Put the lid on the pot and refrigerate overnight.

to cook

  • Preheat oven to 175C. Remove chicken from refrigerator one hour before cooking – do not take it out sooner, as chicken kept at room temperature can kill people.
  • Stir the chicken well, but gently. Crumble or pour the ghee over the top of the chicken, then seal the pot with baking paper or aluminium foil. Place the lid on the pot and put it into the preheated oven. Cook for one hour.
  • After one hour, remove from the oven, but do not open the lid. Let the dish stand for another 15 minutes.

to serve

  • After 15 minutes open the lid and remove the foil. Add the lime juice and gently mix. Sprinkle with the mint and coriander leaves.


  • If you don’t have a clay pot, a baking dish would suffice.
  • Traditionally, this is cooked in a clay pot with a tight-fitting lid sealed with dough. If this is what you want to do, make a dough using about one cup of plain flour and some water, roll it into a long sausage shape and use that to seal the pot. To serve, you would bring the sealed pot to the table, break the seal and finish the dish in front of your guests. Pure dinner theatre.
  • Bone-in chicken can be also used for this recipe. Increase the weight of chicken to over a kilogram. The rest of the ingredients remain the same. Increase the cooking time of the chicken by at least 15 minutes.

private notes

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Serving: 250 g | Calories: 687 kcal | Carbohydrates: 22 g | Protein: 38 g | Fat: 50 g | Saturated Fat: 16 g | Cholesterol: 224 mg | Sodium: 868 mg | Potassium: 841 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 5 g | Vitamin A: 1230 IU | Vitamin C: 75.6 mg | Calcium: 164 mg | Iron: 4.4 mg

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