Chicken Curry Recipe
Chicken Curry Recipe for Beginners. This detailed post on how to make chicken curry at home will guide you to make the best dish using pantry staples. This is one of the easiest that even a novice or a bachelor can cook with an amazing outcome. It not only tastes delicious but is also very flavorful with soft, tender & succulent pieces of chicken. Serve it with Butter naan, tandoori roti, Jeera rice or plain basmati rice.
I have grown up eating many kinds of Indian chicken curries from various regions as my mom is a food enthusiast. We would get to eat them during the weekends with rice & jowar roti.
So making a good chicken curry is something I learnt from my mom. I have shared lot of chicken curry recipes on the blog which I make for my family.
But this post on a basic chicken curry was something I thought will be helpful for the newbies. I have kept the recipe very very simple & have not used any fancy ingredients like canned tomato puree, stock or any sort of cream. There is no blending & grinding work involved.
So even if you are a novice with just a basic kitchen set up, just go ahead and give this recipe a try. I am sure you will cook an awesome chicken curry!
The entire dish is slow cooked, that’s what makes this chicken curry uniquely delicious & flavorful.
More similar recipes
Butter Chicken recipe
Chicken Tikka Masala
How To Make Chicken Curry (Stepwise Photos)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in heavy bottom pan. When the oil turns hot, add
- 1 small bay leaf (or 1 sprig curry leaves)
- 2 inch cinnamon piece
- 4 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms. (All of these are optional but recommended)
2. Add 1 cup very finely chopped onions and 1 chopped green chili pepper. Saute the onions till they turn golden. To speed up, I used another tbsp of oil here and this is optional.
3. Add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste. Make sure the onions turn golden before adding ginger garlic.
4. Saute ginger garlic for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the raw smell disappears completely.
5. Add ½ cup tomatoes (chopped or mashed or pureed). Also add ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt.
6. Next fry until the tomatoes turn completely mushy and the raw smell has gone.
7. Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder and ¼ cup whisked yogurt (curd). Check the tips section below to know tips on how to prevent yogurt from splitting in the curry. To substitute yogurt, you can soak 12 cashew nuts or almonds or 3 tablespoons white poppy seeds in ½ cup hot water for 30 minutes. Blend it to a smooth paste & add here.
8. Saute on a medium flame until the mixture becomes thick and begins to smell good. Optional – If you do not like chunky onions in your curry, then cool and blend this with water to a smooth puree.
9. Add the following ingredients
- ½ kg chicken (about 1 lb)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves or mint leaves.
10. Saute for 3 to 4 mins or until the chicken turns pale.
11. Cover and cook on a low flame for about 3 to 4 mins so the chicken absorbs the flavors. Meanwhile, heat 1 cup water in a separate pot. You can also microwave the water in a cup for 1 min.
12. Pour ½ to ¾ cup hot water or as needed. Using cold water often makes the meat tough & hard.
13. Make sure you use just enough water to partially cover the chicken. Cover and cook on a low to medium heat until soft tender. It took about 10 mins for me. This may vary depending on the age of the chicken or the size of the pieces. Do not cook on a high temperature.
14. Lastly check whether the chicken is done by pricking it with a fork. It must be soft and should fall off the bone easily. Taste the curry and add more salt if need. Also add ½ teaspoon more garam masala if you feel the curry is low on flavor.
When the curry reaches a desired consistency switch off the stove. Add some coriander leaves for garnish. Keep covered until you serve.
Serve chicken curry with rice, jeera rice, ghee rice or chapathi. Also have a simple raita or onion wedges to go on the side.
Authentic Indian Curry Does Not Use
- Canned tomato puree
- Curry powder
- Cornstarch or
- Any kind of stock or broth
So this recipe does not use any of the above mentioned ingredients & will give you a real Indian chicken curry with a burst of flavors & deliciousness.
1. Choosing chicken
You can make this curry with boneless or bone-in chicken. But bone-in chicken yields the best curry as the juices from the bones seep to the curry. So bone-in chicken also thickens the curry without adding any thickener.
Most traditional Indian households use the whole chicken that is cut to equal sizes. The curry is made with all the pieces – thighs, breasts etc. But if you are choosy you can use whatever you like.
2. Whole spices
To begin with I do temper the whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves & cardamom. If you do not have these you may skip. But the flavor from the whole spices is much more intense than the ground powders so I use them.
3. Garam masala – ground spice powder
Garam masala is an Indian spice blend made by dry roasting the spices & pounding them. For this chicken curry recipe you will need a very good spice powder.
I have used this homemade garam masala. However you can also use any store bought powder that is of good quality & aromatic.
Substitute: A good substitute to garam masala is a curry powder. You can again choose something good from a popular brand. But please note that a curry powder does not have the same aroma & spice level as the garam masala powder.
4. Onions & tomatoes
I have used chopped onions & tomatoes here. Some regions use them by grating or pureeing. However it is up to you to make a choice.
5. Taste enhancer or thickener
Traditionally chicken curry was made without any thickening agents. To enhance the taste, one of the ingredients like coconut, yogurt, nut paste or poppy seeds paste were used.
Back home in India, my mom would always use poppy seeds paste for the chicken curry. Since poppy seeds are in the country I live, I either use yogurt or cashew paste here.
So feel free to use fresh yogurt if you do not own a blender. Here is how to use it.
Using Yogurt In Curry
Most often thick yogurt with lesser whey in it, won’t split in the curry but however for unknown reasons it may sometimes happen. So these tips will help you if you want to prevent that.
- Simply whisk it with a fork until smooth. Temper the yogurt first by adding 2 tbsps of onion tomato masala (made in the recipe) to it. Mix it well. Ten lower the flame completely and pour the yogurt to the pan.
- Yogurt that is not sour and has lesser whey works well in this recipe. So you can use greek yogurt or even homemade yogurt.
- If your yogurt is too runny and has a lot of whey, simply strain it in a cheese cloth and then use. Too much of whey will always split the yogurt in the chicken curry.
The specialty of this chicken curry is slow cooking. Do not rush or be in a hurry to finish up cooking quickly. A slow cooked dish will be worth the effort as it really stands out in taste & flavor.
A dish prepared on a high flame will yield you only a hotchpotch curry and not the one that you will really love & enjoy.
Make creamy chicken curry
You can make this chicken curry creamy by adding 4 tbsps of cream or thick coconut milk towards the end.
You can serve this chicken curry with plain rice , basmati rice, Jeera rice, ghee rice or even with roti, paratha or naan.
Chicken Curry Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ kg chicken (500 grams or 1 pound (preferably bone-in))
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup onions (3 medium onions) (fine chopped)
- 1 to 2 green chilies slit (skip for less spicy)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or minced ginger garlic
- ½ cup tomatoes (2 medium tomatoes, pureed or finely chopped)
- ¼ cup yogurt (substitute with 12 cashews or 3 tbsps poppy seeds, refer notes)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust as needed)
- ½ to 1 cup hot water (or coconut milk)
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves or mint leaves finely chopped
Spice powders (or use curry powder as needed)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder or smoked paprika (½ tsp for less spicy)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (½ tsp more if needed, adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
Whole spices (skip if you don’t have)
- 1 bay leaf or 1 sprig curry leaves
- 4 cloves
- 2 inch cinnamon piece
- 3 green cardamom
- First heat oil in a deep pan, then add whatever whole spices you have – bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves & green cardamoms. Fry them till you get an aroma, just for a min.
- Add chopped onions and chilies. Saute till the onions turn deep golden in color.
- Next add ginger garlic paste and saute till you get a nice aroma. This just takes about a minute.
- Then add tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Mix well and cook until the tomatoes turn soft & mushy.
- Pour yogurt (or cashew paste), red chili powder, garam masala & coriander powder.
- On a low heat, cook until the mixture smells good and the raw smell goes away.
- Add chicken and coriander leaves. Fry till the chicken turns white or pale in color. This takes around 3 mins.
- Cover and cook on a low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. This step is very important as the chicken absorbs all the flavors of the spices.
- Meanwhile in a separate pot, heat up 1 cup water. Using cold water most times toughens the chicken so it is good to use hot water.
How To Make Chicken Curry
- Pour hot water just enough to make a thick curry. Do not add too much water. Chicken curry will become runny. Sometimes chicken lets out lot of moisture. So use only as needed.
- Cover and cook on a medium to low flame till the chicken is soft cooked and the curry turns thick.
- Taste the curry & add more salt if needed.
- You can also add another ½ tsp garam masala at this stage if you feel it is less in flavors.
- Cover and cook on a low flame for 3 to 5 mins. When the chicken is cooked completely it will fall off the bone easily.
- Lastly garnish with coriander leaves, cover and off the heat. Serve chicken curry with butter naan or jeera rice.
- You can also skip the whole spices if you do not have. But they add a more intense flavor to the curry.
- To prevent yogurt from splitting, add it to a bowl and whisk it well with a fork. Add 2 tbsps of onion tomato masala (made in the recipe) and mix it well with yogurt. Ten lower the flame completely and pour the yogurt to the pan.
- To substitute yogurt, soak 12 cashew nuts or almonds or 3 tablespoons of white poppy seeds in half cup water for 30 minutes. Later blend it in a small grinder to make super smooth milk.
- If you don’t like chunky curry with onions and tomatoes then blend the onion tomato masala with half cup water in a blender.
- Adding cold water to chicken sometimes makes it hard or tough. So use hot water.
- This chicken curry can be cooked in coconut milk instead of water. Do not pour cold coconut milk. Heat up and add.
- Please choose a good garam masala for the recipe especially if using store bought. Some brands sell really pungent garam masala. Use it with caution.
- You can also use 3 to 4 tbsps of cream or thick coconut milk towards the end if you prefer. Just add it towards the end and turn off.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
If you are using naatu kodi / kozhi (country chicken) you can make this chicken curry in a pressure cooker and cook for 4 whistles on a medium flame.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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Addicting, this was delicious.
This is the best curry!!! So easy and so rewarding to make – my go to recipe!!
Thank you for the easy to follow instructions – thank you Swasthi 🙏
Glad you like it Tracy. Thank you
I do love this recipe. Thank you for sharing!
Glad you like it Megan. Thank you
Love this recipe and I have made it many times.. I usually add sweet potato or chickpeas..
Glad to know! Thank you so much!
Lovely dish! Not too spicy, and packed with flavour. I’ve made it four times already.
So glad to know Lee. Thank you so much!
Can I use cashew butter instead of yogurt ???
Hi, Yes you may use 1 tablespoon
I chanced upon your chicken curry recipe during the lockdown when cooks were away and we all went back to remembering our skills 😊 – and I’ve been hooked ever since! I even refer to your notes for recipes that I know by heart, and I love that you select the healthiest ingredients and favour natural vs store-bought stuff..kudos to you and a big thanks for keeping it on the right side! 😊🙏🏻
Thank you so much! You made my day! That makes me so happy.
Totally delicious! Great with Naan bread.
Easy to understand and implement. Thank you for making cooking easy.
Glad it helps Ally
I had the privilege of working in a traditional Punjabi restaurant in my youth and one of the finest chefs I ever knew Jass Multani instructed me on how to make a traditional curry. This recipe is EXACTLY how he made it. This is a delicious authentic recipe and I can not compliment the author enough and it brings back wonderful memories to be making this again and makes me feel like I’m a server who this kind chef took under his tutelage once again 🙂
Happy to know Milo
Thank you so much for leaving a comment.
I am certainly no great cook but I have been looking to increase my skill set. This was one of the most flavorful things I’ve ever made!
Your photos and explanations of smells helped me understand the process so much more than I have in the past. My house was filled with scents of spices all day!
I did not have a pressure cooker so I seared my chicken and cooked it all in a slow cooker after I had sautéed all the veggies and spices. Everyone got seconds. And the yogurt was a great way to tone down the heat for the kids. Thank you so much!
So glad to know Devan
Thank you so much for sharing with us how it turned out.
I am not the best cook, but your chicken curry recipe turned out very delicious for me anyway. Thanks so much for sharing it. I really appreciate the recipe!
Thank you Marsha!
Made this today. Yum. I’d already marinated my chicken because that’s what we do in my family. It was refrigerated while I hunted up a recipe. So glad i came across this. And super glad that Swasthi made the difference between curry masala and garam masala and “westernised” Indian chicken curry parading as the authentic home made curry with cream and goodness knows what else.
Thanks once again, Swasthi for a super easy chicken curry. My go-to recipe from now on.
The marination just made it yummier as did the special Kerala meat masala (internet recipe) I sprinkled on top at the very end. The Kerala meat masala just gives every meat dish that extra oomph.
Thank you so much Sam
Happy to know you like it!
Made it last weekend for family and it was a major success. Now saved into my recipe index for future meals. Also made your vegetable curry for the same meal. Thumbs up again. Both curries accompanied with steamed rice and curd.
Glad to know Katherine.
Thanks for letting us know how the food turned out.
First time preparing chicken curry and it was yummy. My husband enjoyed it too. I used coconut milk as an alternative. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Glad to know Lilly. Thank you so much for sharing back
First time preparing chicken curry and my husband and I enjoyed it. I used coconut milk instead of water and it was yummy. I will make my own milk from almonds next time to replace greek yogurt.
I am now learning how to make chicken Biryani. Thanks again 🔥🔥
What an amazing chicken curry. Anyone who tastes this raves about how good it is. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s become a staple recipe of mine!
Thank you so much Rob. Glad you all like it.
Thank you Nina
Wonderful dish. Made this for two using boneless chicken thighs and it was easy the most authentic tasting curry I’ve made. Will definitely be making this again!
Thank you so much Steve
Any tips on how to salvage this is the yogurt has split and the entire gravy becomes lumpy?
I have already mentioned in the post twice how to avoid that. Read notes. You can remove the chicken from the gravy and blend it to a smooth curry.
Can you use the same recipe but with lamb?
Pls check this recipe – Mutton curry