How to cook chicken curry at home and make it better than in the restaurant? Try this recipe! Easy, traditional, and with zero curry powder involved, you will be transported to India with every mouthful!
After eating disappointing curries in many places, filled with sweet red bell peppers, curry powder, oil, saturated fat, and fed up with this recurring storyline over the years, I took matters into my hands and just broke the recipe down, step-by-step, to find the easiest way to prepare a top-notch restaurant-style, brimming with flavor, easy enough for beginners, chicken curry recipe - and I am happy to say, this is the one!
Once you master this, work your way up different difficulties and spice levels, and give this Black Pepper Sri Lankan Chicken Curry a go!
How to make chicken curry? [Infographics]
Easy Chicken Curry Ingredients
- Oil: Vegetable or sunflower oil will work perfectly to sautee the onions and Indian spices.
- Onions and Ginger Garlic Paste The foundation for the gravy of many Indian curries; you can use fresh ginger and garlic if you have them or prefer them. If so, you may need to adjust the quantity of garlic and ginger used.
- Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Red or Kashmiri Chili Powder, Garam Masala. These are the only spices used in this simple recipe, yet the most important ones for most curries. Please do not use cayenne pepper or paprika for spice if you can, as they taste different. Find out more about different types of paprika.
- Green Chilies: Bringing in the heat to this curry sauce!
- Tomato: Fresh tomato brings richness to the dish, giving creaminess without cream or coconut milk to the curry sauce.
- Chicken: This recipe uses thighs, however, feel free to use drums or breast (or a mixture instead); chicken with bone or without it will work well. If you love eating chicken, then check out more chicken recipes.
- Cilantro (Fresh Coriander): Fresh and colorful.
- Salt and Pepper: Seasonings to taste.
- Water: To create the curry sauce. Please do not use chicken broth or stock, as the flavors of the spices won't need it.
How to make chicken curry? [Step-By-Step]
- For a thick, non-chunky gravy, peel and chop the onions and blend them to a paste in an electric blender.
- Should you prefer your curry chunky, you can also just slice the onions or half chopped and half blended to reach your preferred consistency.
- To start the chicken curry, heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat, and once warm add the onions and ginger-garlic paste, or fresh garlic cloves and ginger if using those instead.
- Mix the ingredients well and allow them to cook until golden brown.
- Next, add the coriander powder and turmeric powder and mix well.
- After about one minute the spices will be cooked (they will start separating from the oil), so you can add the chopped fresh tomato and fresh green chilies (slit on the side).
- Mix the ingredients well and put a lid on the pan, reducing the heat to medium-low; allow the gravy base to cook until the tomatoes soften, which should take about 5 minutes. Once the tomatoes are soft you will start seeing the curry sauce consistency.
- Next, add water to double the amount of curry sauce and bring it to a light simmer.
- Once the curry is simmering, add the chili powder and mix well.
- Finally, add the chicken pieces to the curry sauce and mix it well in the saucepan, ensuring it is fully coated in gravy.
- Again, add water to the saucepan until it covers the chicken pieces (but not more than that) and bring to a light simmer.
- After 10 minutes that the curry has been simmering, add the garam masala, salt, and pepper, and allow it to finish cooking.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked (it should take a further 5-10 minutes maximum for thighs and even less for chicken breasts), sprinkle some fresh coriander, mix it well, serve and enjoy!
How to make chicken curry? [Video]
People also ask [FAQs]
This quick and easy chicken curry recipe only has 281 calories per portion, all while having a very generous and filling serving.
This curry keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days; it also freezes very well in a container with a lid or a ziplock bag for up to two months. To serve, fully taw the curry in the fridge for 24 hours then reheat in a pan, or defrost in the microwave until piping hot.
This easy chicken curry recipe doesn’t use curry powder, but rather a handful of spices that offer warm spicy Indian flavors.
What To Serve With Chicken Curry?
This chicken curry works perfectly with all your classics, such as chapatti, parathas, and rice, but there are also lower-carb options!
- Chapatti, roti, parathas, naan bread
- Flavored or simple fluffy basmati rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Roasted vegetables
This curry is great served with some pickle or achar and thinly chopped red onion flavored with lemon juice.
Tips and tricks on How to make chicken curry?
Indian cuisine is simple, the ingredients are few and flavored by the right amount of spice:
- Keep it fresh: try to use fresh tomato and cilantro; use canned or frozen substitutes only if you do not have fresh ones.
- Chilli powder: this recipe uses red or Kashmiri chili powder; Cayenne pepper and paprika are not Indian spices and will change the taste, even if slightly. If you can choose, go for the real stuff, if not adjust the quantity of the substitute to taste. Talking about heat, jalapenos are not used in Indian recipes either, so if you find green chilies, it is best to use those.
- Chicken broth or stock: there is no need to use chicken stock in any Indian recipe, as the flavors come from the ingredients and cooking methods. Should you want a more intense chicken taste, it is best to use chicken with bone.
- Oil: try to favor unflavored oil for this recipe, such as sunflower or vegetable oil. Extra virgin olive oil is not a suitable option for cooking Indian food, as it is very strong in flavor and it has a very low heating point.
- Onions: any color of onions you have at home will work, as long as they are not of the sweet kind.
- Curry Powder and Cornstarch: These ingredients are not used in authentic Indian cuisine, so you won't find them in any of my Indian recipes for thickening curries or making the curry sauce. I have a extensive post on what is curry powder?
This easy chicken curry is for you if
- Perfect for a busy weeknight
- Chicken curry recipe for beginners, students, bachelors as well as families and pro chefs
- You want the traditional taste of Indian curry
- You are on a weight-loss journey and want to eat delicious tasting food
- Have 30 minutes to get dinner recipe ready
- Want to cook dinner with ingredients you have at home
- Want to try that thick gravy hack
- Want a very easy dinner idea that doesn't need a manual to prepare
- Are looking for a one-pot-wonder recipe!
This chicken curry has a very rich base which is prepared with blended onion and some nice fresh tomatoes, which combined give you a tasty gravy that is balanced out by clever and minimal use of spices.
In addition to all that, this recipe keeps very well in the fridge for up to three days and it gets even better the more it sits in the gravy, as the chicken absorbs all of the flavors! Enjoy!
Here are some more easy chicken curry recipes you must try:
How to make chicken curry?
- 1 tablespoon Sunflower Oil or any oil that has no flavor
- 2 Red Onions
- 2 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 3 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 2 Green Chilies
- 1 + ½ Tomato
- 2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 6 Skinless Chicken Thighs diced
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 handful Fresh Cilantro Coriander
- Salt to Taste
- Chop the tomatoes in large cubes (one tomato in 8-10 pieces) and slit the chilies on the side, without removing the seeds, and set aside.
- Peel and chop the onions in cubes that fit comfortably in a blender and turn it into a paste; if required, to facilitate the process, add a little bit of water, but try to keep it to as little as possible, as you do not want the mixture to splatter once it is added to the oil.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, add the oil and warm up on a medium flame; once this is warm add the onion paste, the ginger garlic paste, and ¼ teaspoon of salt (or as liked) and cook thoroughly until the smell of rawness, especially of the garlic, has gone. This should take about 4 minutes, but please keep an eye on it a keep on mixing every 30 seconds – 1 minute.
- Once the onion and ginger garlic paste mixture is cooked add the turmeric powder and coriander powder, mix well and allow the spices to cook. This should take about 30 seconds and you will know they are cooked because the oil will separate from the spices.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and green chilies to the pan, mix well and cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and allow the tomatoes to soften; this will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the tomatoes are soft, add the chili powder and mix well; after 30 seconds add the diced chicken thighs. I like to cut the thighs into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on the size; my preference is to keep them larger than bite-size, as I like to break them while I eat, using the bread.
- Mix the chicken well and cover the pan with the lid, allowing the chicken to cook for 10 minutes (still on low flame). Should the mixture be too dry for your taste and should you prefer your gravy to be looser, then add half a cup (or as preferred) of water to the pan and bring to the boil, before putting the lid on the pan and cooking, but remember the chicken will be releasing some water while cooking in any case.
- After the 10 minutes have passed, add the garam masala and mix well. Now finish cooking the chicken, which should take about 5 more minutes on a medium flame. I normally do this without a lid, as I prefer my gravy thicker; should you prefer it looser, keep the lid on and the flame on low.
- Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, add the fresh Cilantro (coriander), adjust the salt and cook for a further 30 seconds – 1 minute.
- The curry is now ready to be served!
- Feel free to use onions that are not red in color, the taste won't change.
- You can increase or decrease the heat of the curry sauce by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili powder and green chilies used.
- This dish will store well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container, or it can be frozen for up to two months.
- Before serving the dish, ensure it has been fully reheated through and through.