Murgh Zamin Doz

Continuing from my article of 20th August 2015 titled “Unearthing of the lost” I have a little detail on another dish that was served during the festival called Murgh Zamin Doz.

What is it– The term Zamin doz means “inside earth” in Urdu and points in the same direction in Arabic as well as Persian. Murgh Zamin doz or chicken cooked inside the earth (well literally) could be the mother of Tandoori Chicken as pointed by a number of food history archives.

A whole chicken marinated in light garnish and spices is sealed in mud, placed in an earthen pot and cooked over slow passive heat; which gives and even inside-out cook for tender meat.

Whole chicken cooked in a pit inside earth
Murgh Zameen Doz

How is it done – A light pounded complete chicken is marinated in yoghurt, cardamom, saffron and almonds. Which is wrapped in an Awadhi/Mughlai bread called Rumali roti which is like a translucent layer. Then the bread is sealed with mud to ensure the chicken is locked inside, later it is placed in a slightly bigger earthen pot. A larger size pot would only create more vacuum and hence would need more cooking time, so remember to choose the size that just fits the chicken in it.

The pot’s mouth is then sealed with mud and left in a dying tandoor or a very slow controlled temperature tandoor. If it is a normal high temperature or a live tandoor, it would only cook the outer layer of chicken leaving the inside partially raw. The same is the case with French Sous-Vide where food is packed in vacuumed plastic bags and dropped in water-filled vessel and cooked for hours for an even cook.

Chicken zameen doz plated
Chicken in all it's glory

Origin – Akbar the Great, was a known epicurean who is credited with inventions of numerous exotic dishes and breads. Some of them survive today while others have been lost in the dearth of history Murgh Zamindoz, Khasa Tilaai & Roghni roti being few of them. He was a lover of chicken and used to make them in his own experimental ways. Some of which have been documented over time by his 9 jewels (9 ratn) in books like A’in-I-Akbari.

The Rajasthani Khad style cooking is also on the same lines, although it is not clear if they were ever connected or one of them inspired the other or vice-versa.

The text book on Akbar's administrative recordings
A'in I Akbari
Akbar The most famous Mughal Emperor from India
Akbar The Great

Modern Picture – At present, the dish is nowhere to be found but there are numerous claims suggesting the contemporary Tandoori chicken is inspired from this dish, unfortunately, there is no scripted fact and these are mere analogies.

If you happen to hear even remotely about any of these dishes or any other similar ones, It’s definitely worth a try considering not only the taste but the sheer amount of technicality & history involved in cooking just one single piece of it. Do let us know if you ever lay your hands on it.

both the food pictures are from Banaras Ka Khana which has been provided by the concerned rightful owner and is their exclusive property

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  1. Bilal—–in parts of Punjab in Pakistan ; especially the Chiniot region….similar Zameen Doz dish known as KUNNEY is prepared and served on special occasions in the Winters. I have tried several times during my visit to Lahore and have enjoyed it too ; except the extra rich Oil/Ghee or the fat of the Mutton.

    • Looks exotic, tastes exotic.. It’s not the taste is the history and amount of hard work that has gone down with one such dish is tremendous 🙂


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