Chicken Curry

Relishing my dad's chicken curry in India.

My brother – he is mummy’s favorite kid. She never admits to that and always gives me that, “what on earth are you talking about?” look every time I say this to her, but I know. He is the gentler of us two (at least on the outside!), doesn’t leave back any trail of his crimes AND he ate his greens. Me, quite the contrary! But still the quieter him and crazy me, together managed to keep mummy on her toes all the time. She was either in the kitchen cooking for us, making rounds to our school explaining for us, pulling us apart while we try to kill each other or in her mandir (temple) praying for us. On her toes all the time!


But Sundays were different. Sunday was the day she looked forward to the whole week. Sunday was when we, the kids would behave. Sunday was when I ate my greens with no whining in the vicinity. Sunday was when Papa was home and he took over from Mummy, the kitchen, the chores and the kids.


So our Sunday morning would start with the sound of mummy reciting her prayers in the prayer room and to the smell of chai simmering away in the copper pot my grandma gave to her. Papa would come in our room, move the curtain for the sun to glare right at our faces, pull away our blankets, plant a big fat kiss on both of our cheeks and lift us in his strong muscular arms taking us straight to the bathroom. By the time we could snap out of our sleep, our teeth would already be brushed and we would be in our running shoes all set for our morning run. Well, Papa’s morning run and our- “dragging the feet behind Papa” run! I remember him running towards the sun with the rays falling on his face and the two of us running behind him, hiding in his shadow to save our sleepy eyes from the shine. We would run past the nearby mandir, some local shops, wave hello to half the town and be back home for breakfast.


The hours after breakfast was what we looked forward to more. It was Sunday so it was a chicken curry day! We knew Papa would get us ready, load us on his scooter, one kid standing in front and other sitting on the back seat, wrapping our two arms around his waist tightly and we would go to the Sunday haat (farmer’s market). Carrying our jholas (bags) we would stop at every vendor looking for the plumpest tomatoes, choosing the freshest greens and bargaining for the best deal on potatoes and onions. Last stop would be the butcher shop located at the end of the haat. While waiting for the butcher to get our chicken ready, we would enjoy our ice creams or savor a glass of sweet sugarcane juice. Then head home.


At home everything from the haat would be washed, twice. Then we would sneak out in the backyard and Papa would get in the kitchen to make his world famous chicken curry. It took him at least two hours to make that chicken curry. The process would start with onion, ginger, garlic paste prepared using a stone grinder. Whole spices ground along until everything turns into a smooth paste. Then his loyal pressure cooker would be pulled out, which by the way was used just on Sundays, just for the chicken curry. The process would begin and the aroma of masala floating in the backyard would get strong and stronger.

collage Two hours later we would lay newspaper on the floor, put or plates on it and lunch would be served. There would just be chicken curry, steaming hot rotis and a simple salad on the side. But that is still and will ever be the best meal one could ever serve to me. So today when I thought of sharing a couple of exciting news with you, I could not think of a better recipe and images to go with the post. Photos here might not be the best ones, but they carry boatloads of memories. Some happy moments we spent with my family during our last visit to India and another golden opportunity where we relished Papa’s world famous Chicken Curry. Every family has their own version of chicken curry recipe. A few spices here and there but the soul still the same. This is my family’s recipe.


Now the happy news. Because of all the love and support you show to Indian Simmer, it has been nominated again for this year’s Best Food Blog Awards hosted by SAVEUR Magazine. The nominations are now open for voting till Friday, April 19th. So if you think an Indian food blog deserves to win this year, then please vote for Indian Simmer in the Best Regional Cuisine Category. Every vote counts so please take two minutes and vote. Other than that, I am really excited to be featured on some amazingly popular websites like Refinery 29 and Feeling so honored right now!

5 from 9 votes
Print Recipe

Chicken Curry

Every family has their own version of chicken curry recipe. A few spices here and there but the soul still the same. This is my family's recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marination 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Author Prerna Singh


  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds whole chicken cleaned and cut into 16- 18 pieces


  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 inches ginger root
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 hot green chili peppers adjust according to how much heat you can handle
  • 1/2 cup mustard oil can substitute with vegetable or olive oil
  • 2-3 bay leaves dried
  • 1 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 whole black cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ghee clarified butter
  • Handful of chopped cilantro



  1. Clean the chicken throughly. Drain any excess water from the chicken.

  2. Mix the marinade (lemon juice + salt + pepper) to the chicken. Set aside for at least 30 minutes OR up to overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

Wet Masala:

  1. In a blender or food processor, grind onion, ginger, garlic and green chili into a smooth, thick paste. Set aside.

  2. Roughly pound the whole spices - bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, cumin and cloves.

Cooking process:

  1. Heat oil in a thick bottom pan with slightly higher sides. A pressure cooker or wok would be a great alternative.

  2. Add pound spices to the hot oil. Stir as they sputter.

  3. Add turmeric. Stir. Add the wet paste prepared before. Turn the heat to medium and cook while stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated and the paste is reduced to a dense, golden brown paste, 8-10 minutes.

  4. Add salt, coriander powder and chopped tomato. Turn the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally. As the tomato cooks, it breaks down into and mixes into the masala, turning it into a slightly smooth and loose paste.

  5. Cook, until the oil separates, 8-10 minutes.

  6. Add garam masala. Stir in the chicken and mix everything very well. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook, uncovering and stirring occasionally, every 3-4 minutes.

    Initially chicken will lose a lot of water but after cooking for 15-20 minutes the water will begin to reduce. At this point you can either uncover and cook, stirring occasionally or put on the pressure cooker.

Pressure Cook:

  1. If proceeding with the pressure cooker then cover, lock and wait for two whistles and then turn the heat off leaving covered for another 15 minutes.

Instant Pot:

  1. If cooking in an Instant Pot, lock the lid and cook on "meat" for 8 minutes.

Cooking in a pan or wok:

  1. If following the traditional stove top method, turn the heat to medium low and let the chicken simmer for another 18-20 minutes OR until the chicken is cooked well and the gravy is reduced to a nice thick consistency.

  2. Once the chicken is cooked, add ghee and cilantro. Stir well. Cover and let it rest for 15 more minutes before serving with your choice of bread or rice.


  1. Exploring cbd softgels and pre roll weed has been an enlightening trip object of me. The worth and smell of these products are exciting, oblation a calming and enjoyable experience. Whether I’m unwinding after a crave period or seeking resourceful enthusiasm, hemp pre-rolls provide a understandable choice that I can trust. The convenience of pre-rolls combined with the benefits of hemp flowers occasion them a go-to voice for the treatment of r ‘rest and mindfulness. I perceive the attention to detail and harmlessness of the products, enhancing my comprehensive satisfaction. Exceptionally advocate stressful hemp flowers and pre-rolls an eye to a holistic and fulfilling sagacity!

  2. I return to this recipe over and over and have been making it for 8 years. I learned cooking only in my 30s after moving across the world and this helps me pretend I know what I’m doing. Possibly the best chicken curry I’ve tasted or made.
    The mustard oil really is key, I know it says optional but it simply doesn’t taste as good without it.

  3. Hi prerna,
    Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing recipe. Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and due to corona, we cannot go out so I tried to search for some good recipe and fortunately I have got your’s and it was loved by all of my family members. the authentic taste which I got from this is unforgettable. Ingredients are so simple yet impactful. I just want to thank you.

  4. Thank you so much for your site, I have recommended it quite a few times. One general question: when do you remove your whole spices (ie Cloves/Cinnamon/Cardamon)? I notice a number of recipes (like this) call for them, but seemingly difficult to remove once the sauce is done. Am I missing something or are you using a spice bag while cooking?

    Thank again.

    • Indian cooking tends to leave the whole spices in. If you bite into it, just take out and put it on the side of the plate.
      I’ve tried the method of putting it in a bag and then removing in but the spices really don’t blend as well. Alternatively, you could use (ideally freshly) ground spices. A spice grinder will do.

  5. So happy to read this awesome content, chicken curry is like “anthass” in malayalam movies. Appam without a chicken curry is like gun without a bullet. Roasted chicken curry is my favorite in chicken dishes. you can also try Thai chicken dishes they are also deli shes like Indian foods.

  6. Hi Prerna ji,

    I think almost every one has cooked chicken curry once if they like chicken recipe. The style of cooking may be different or the proportion of spices thus the taste.
    I do have cooked chicken curry too many time but when I tried your spices combination and style the curry was simply delicious and every one at home appreciated.
    Change is always good.

  7. I love it! I know that I am late (as this recipe has posted since 2013!) but I was not able to learn how to cook from my mom. When I began making this at first I was confused: where is the curry powder, then I realized I was making it with all of the spices. I was on cloud nine! I was a bit confused about something: do I add water at all? And after marinading the chicken in the lemon juice and peppers, I was it off, right? thank you so much again for this recipe it made me happy beyond words to make it and remember a different time with my family!

    • I Don’t believe you wash the chicken after having it in the marinade, just stir it in as the recipe says. The water seems to come from the chicken: ” Initially chicken will lose a lot of water but after cooking for 15-20 minutes on medium heat the water will begin reducing”. The pastes does get some wetness from the tomato cooking though. I’m sure if you want you can add some water. It’s what you make of it and how thick you want your curry

  8. Dear Prerna,
    My husband and I had friends over last night and served this dish, along with your aloo gobhi and “birthday” palak paneer. I read out this blog post about your Papa’s curry, and we enjoyed the warmth of your family story as part of the experience. Thank you for sharing your recipes and stories! You contributed to a lovely evening in our home.

  9. I made this for lunch earlier trying to imitate a coworkers curry and though it wasn’t his it was absolutely amazing and I will make this again! My previous curry cooking experience surrounded jarred curry & cayenne powder added to a bechamel, which worked and probably will again in a pinch, but if I have time, this is it!

  10. Great PRENA, This is our family’s favorite Chicken Curry that my Mom used to make on every special occasion. The delicious smell of this curry drives me crazy and when my mother cooked this. We often serve with rice, peaches in their syrup, and a fine chutney.

  11. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for about 2 years and cooked it regularly. Thought it was about time I said thanks when I pulled it up to cook again today.

  12. Thanks for informative and useful publish, certainly within your blog site all things are very good. should you publish informative feedback on blog sites there may be constantly the possibility that real mankind will just click through

  13. Thank you for this post. Thats all I are able to say. You most absolutely have built this blog website into something speciel. You clearly know what you are working on, youve insured so many corners.thanks
    Thank you for this post. Thats all I are able to say. You most absolutely have built this blog website into something speciel. You clearly know what you are working on, youve insured so many corners.thanks

  14. Greetings,
    I absolutely adore your pictures, and storiews from your childhood. I am an American who is married to a wonderful Hindu man, and I’m always looking for great indian food recipes, and I came across this just now. I must say that I admire the story, and pics, and of course the delicious recipe. Thank you and best of luck to you!

  15. Hello,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Chicken Curry.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about Chicken Curry in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

  16. I enjoyed reading your blog and cooking the chicken curry as i am typing this. You have a way of getting in those nostalgic details and transporting your readers to your childhood days.Wish you well!!

  17. Hi just found this wonderful site, I made the chicken vindaloo and it was fantastic, I now want to make the above curry but unsure about one thing, in your recipe you describe roughly pounding the whole spices but when describing your childhood you mention the following ” The process would start with onion, ginger, garlic paste prepared using a stone grinder. Whole spices ground along until everything turns into a smooth paste”. so my question is would it be better to grind the whole spices to powder?

  18. Came across your recipe by chance. Thank you much! Because we had a shortage of ingredients tonight, here is what i did inspired by your recipe, and its turned out awesomely yummy 🙂
    Marinated the chicken, lemon juice and salt. Stirred the cinnamon stick, pepper corns, coriander and cumin powder, onions, garlic, ginger paste in hot mustard oil. Added chopped potato. stirred until oil separated. Added cooked tomatoes that i had on hand. Waited till everything was soft. Added turmeric and salt. Plunked in the chicken pieces. Let the mixture boil for a bit and then added a spoon of peanut butter blended in warm water. Topped with a little hot ghee. Coriander when we served. I love working with what I have on hand 🙂

  19. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and very touching story of your family. I unfortunately didn’t grow up in a family where I could totally be myself (by choice), but you made me daydream and re-imagine what it would be like if I was back home, now that I am comfortable with my sexuality.

    I love curries. All sorts of curries. I grew up with curries. The house I grew up in smelt like curries daily. My mother’s apron was stained with various splatters of curry. I love every aspect of making a curry, but somehow I am yet to master one amazing pot of curry.
    Thank you for sharing this and I will try making it.


  20. sorry – this looks awesome – but you leave the roughly pounded Cinnamon sticks, pods, and Bay Leaves… in the paste? I’m not excited about biting down on a hard Cinnamon stick. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Thanks much!

    • That’s how my dad makes chichken curry and that how I grew up eating. If yo do not like the whole spice syou can always fish them out of your curry or grind it with the onion paste that you prep. Hope that helps.

  21. Love your “sunday story” I am a photographer, chef and dad. My 2 daughters and I have similar ” sundays”
    Great blog, I will visit again soon. For now its back to grinding =chicken curry.

  22. Hi Prerna..loved ur blog.. D words seemed right outta ur heart.. Nd i thoroughly connected with it.
    Seemed like a lil story that ud like to go back and read again.

    It gets you into this nostalgic lil feel.

    Wish u good luck!!

    Best Regards
    Aditi Khanna Kapoor

  23. Hey! Same pinch! Sundays in our house was Dad’s Chicken curry day too! My dad’s was a tad bit different, but your post brought back the same childhood memory.

  24. I hump this recipe ! Reminds me of you making scoop at home, Mom.
    And it’s fun to see photos of your asylum there and see
    Dad in that comfy situation we sat in when we visited,
    attempting to use the moderato internet 🙂

    I can’t wait to center how the cleanse reversed out in terms
    of using it. Does it smell divergent since it is prefabricated with
    fauna fat? Any additional differences from vegetable-based scoop?

    Bang you!

  25. Hi. I’m so happy to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing your stories and recipe. I tried your chicken curry for my Bible group. Everyone loves it. They thought it’s better than some of the good Indian restaurants in Los Angeles. Thank you. I almost cried reading your story of your dad’s cooking. Makes me miss my dad a lot. Happy Mother’s Day. Blessings.

  26. Congrats on your nomination — well deserved! I love this dish, the story, and the incredible photos that accompany it. Childhood memories are always inspiring to me and I can see my own alongside yours here. Reading it made me smile.

  27. That’s exactly my childhood up until I lost my father eleven years ago. I still miss him a lot. not a day goes by without me being reminded of the yummy chicken curry my father used to make. Years later, still I’m unable to recreate his recipes. Ur post has really brought tears to my eyes.
    Kudos to you for such wonderful writing n memories!


    • I am sorry Poorna! I can imagine how difficult it must be but guess what, you can make his chicken curry and trust me you will feel him by your side when you eat it. 🙂 A big warm hug to you!

  28. Prerana, I loved this post for many reasons; the first photograph explains it all. The ‘lime-washed’ blue was the icing. Growing up during the tail-end of the B&W TV era had its charms. 🙂

  29. Hi, loved reading your post, it brought back memories of my childhood, when my dad used to takeover breakfast duties on the weekends….he is no longer with us, but his memory will always be in my heart. On a side note, I was intrigued by the addition of ghee at the end of cooking…I can’t wait to try it! Love, love your blog, keep up the good work! My family is always bugging me to write a cookbook or start a blog….I am inspired by you…who knows…lol!!

  30. The images and the recipe are mouth watering. It is really amazing that even though you are not in India, the connect to India is very evident. I am really fond of chicken dishes and will definitely try out the recipe posted here.

  31. I know I am late on commenting on this post but trust me I have read it the day you published. I read, I smiled and felt tears in my eyes because I suddenly realize how far I am from my daddy and How much I miss being his little gal and those precious moments….
    You have touched many hearts with this post… I can bet on this! This is just beyond beautiful Prerna!

  32. so nostalgic have a way with your words that I could literally imagine how idyllic it could be to sit behind a scooter and ride away in countryside! This must be one of the best chicken curries if made by the dad!

  33. I loved this post of yours! Came back to read again and view the pictures that beautifully compliment your writing. I could almost smell the food and feel the love and warmth of being with family and all the beautiful memories it brings alive!

  34. What a beautiful tribute to your father!! My father has never cooked… so I don’t have these wonderful memories of him in the kitchen. I also love that your father was in charge on Sundays. Well done to your Mother. I need to work out that deal with my husband. 🙂

  35. this is such a raw, genuine post full of love and its all over the recipe (must make), pictures- love love love deserve to win!!! now heading to vote you,

  36. I love your blog, and don’t usually comment but wanted to let you know your nomination is so well deserved! Congratulations! and what a yummy recipe! my Mother-in-law is famous for her chicken curry that permeates through the house all afternoon as we wait for her to finish! what a lovely memory and beautiful post

  37. This by far is your best post, Prerna! You have opened up your soul and the words that came straight from your heart has touched ours too 🙂 Gorgeous pics of your native town and the first pic depicts most of our lives too.

    Congratulations for the nomination. I guess I am bit late for the party in wishing you, but thank goodness not late for voting 🙂

  38. Hi Prerna, your post is so beautiful. The photographs brim with nostalgia. Your style of writing captures all the minute details of ‘home’ (hope you know what I mean). I voted for you in Saveur. Actually hopped onto your blog when Kulsum had shared. Even today when Soma shared the link on FB, thought of connecting with you. I’ll be honest, it seemed like a dejavu as last year I had seen a few of your posts – Jalebi etc but probably didn’t keep up with your posts.

    Not giving any excuse this time. Good wishes:)

  39. Ah moms and sons and dads and daughters- that’s the way it is in our home too even though my parents will deny it too! Such a beautiful post P! Loved seeing your home and that chicken curry is now world famous 🙂 All the best for Saveur ! Voted, and keeping my fingers and toes crossed!

  40. May your parents live many more (healthy) years, inshallah, inshallah. I loved this post so much – bachpan ki yaad mujhe bhi agayee. Beautiful post, P. You know I am your fan, P, I am rooting for you – I want you to win. I feel blessed to have a friend like you in this crazy world of food blogging. Love, s

  41. This warmed my heart. And made me feel a little guilty about the fact that I just ate store bought curry. But I swear one day I’m going to make it myself. From one of your recipes 😉

    Anyhow, so excited to see you nominated – you got my vote!

  42. What a beautiful post, love dreading about your childhood memories…’s amazing how time just slips of our hands like sand ….
    Congratulations !! Awesome job, voted for you and shared it on my fb page.


  43. You took me back home P! Chicken curry, papa taking over sunday, opening the curtain early morning and removing the blankets, mom prayers, morning tea, accompanying dad to the market.. all of it !

    Beautiful beautiful post and you know how proud I feel to see you grow. You rock it babe 🙂

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.