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Chicken Curry – Restaurant Style

March 17, 2010

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For most of us, our first encounter with Indian food was with the spicy, creamy Chicken Curry, at your local Indian restaurant. You may have enjoyed it in all its deliciousness with some naan or zeera rice, savoring the burst of flavor in your mouth, every time you took one more bite.

What you may also recall is all the grease that came with it and the guilt you felt relishing this great dish. “But the grease is what makes it so yummy!” – is what you must’ve told yourself. And “It’s only once-in-a-while…It’s not like I’ll want to have Indian Chicken curry everyday!”. Well guess what. Now you can. My recipe for Chicken Curry is an extension from an earlier post on making the curry base, which makes this recipe not only easy, but much lighter on grease and fat. While several variations to the ‘Chicken Curry’ exist (including adding red food coloring), this version is the basic recipe that most Muslim households in India prepare on a regular basis.

The preparation begins with marinating chicken pieces overnight, in a mixture of spices and yogurt. I strongly recommend you use bone-in, skinless chicken pieces. An easy-to-make curry base is then prepared, in which the chicken is then slow-cooked. Make the curry as thick or thin as you like, depending on whether you plan to eat it with rice or bread.

Make this dish when you have guests over and you want to impress them with your curry-making skills, or prepare it when you and your family want to enjoy something different in the week’s dinner menu. Enjoy with your favorite bread, or go Indian and relish with freshly cooked Basmati rice or store-bought Roti’s or Naan. Serve with some Raita.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

This recipe makes about 6 Chicken drumstick or the equivalent in Chicken thigh pieces.

You will need:

For the Marinade

  • A large dish or bowl
  • 6 skinless Chicken drumsticks, washed well and patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon ginger+garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

For the Curry

  • A large heavy-bottom pot
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee. If you don’t have ghee, vegetable oil will do
  • 3 dried Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 inch stick of Cinnamon
  • 3 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
Some of the ingredients used for Chicken Curry

Some of the ingredients used for Chicken Curry

  • 2.5 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons Dhania-Zeera powder
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken stock – to thin the gravy if required
  • Chopped Cilantro leaves and lemon juice for garnishing


  • Mix the marinade ingredients well in a large bowl and coat the chicken pieces completely, in the mixture. Marinate overnight in the fridge
  • In a large pot, heat 4 tbsp of oil and cook the chopped onions in medium heat till they are a light brown color
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they are soft and mushy

  • Turn off heat, and blend this mixture with 1/2 cup of water
  • Heat 1 tbsp of ghee or oil in the same pot and fry the Bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds in it
  • As soon as the cumin seeds start to crackle, add 1 tsp of ginger & garlic paste
  • Then add the blended onion and tomato mixture and allow to re-fry in the ghee / oil
  • After about 30 seconds, add all the dry spices + chicken bouillon and mix well
  • Cook the spices in the gravy till the oil separates from the sides of the pot
  • Finally, add the marinated chicken and mix well. Add salt to taste.
Add the marinated chicken to the curry paste and mix well

Add the marinated chicken to the curry paste and mix well

  • Cover the lid on the pot, and allow the chicken to cook on low-medium heat. It should take around 30 minutes for the chicken to cook completely. No need to add extra water for cooking the chicken – the tomatoes and yogurt will release a lot of liquid
  • Add chicken stock if you feel the gravy is too thick
  • Garnish with Cilantro leaves & lemon juice, and enjoy!
17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2010 8:32 am

    this is just like my recipe only difference being, i use a huge amount of onion and tomatoes. For what you mentioned here, I would have added 6 onions and around 10 tomatoes. I do add chat masala as well along with a healthy dash of Paprika.

    • March 17, 2010 8:35 am

      Interesting variation with the masalas. I avoid using more onion than mentioned above since I’ve noticed it makes the curry sweet, which I hate. Also, adding more tomatoes makes the curry too watery. The water then releases when you reheat the curry. You must also note that onions in the US are DOUBLE the size of those in India :-). Thx for the comment!

  2. March 17, 2010 8:45 am

    chicken must be sweet naturally. not my adding sugar like some restaurants do. Actually I cook it for a long time which makes the chicken cook in tomato juices. I cook for around an hour. 🙂

    • March 17, 2010 8:48 am

      True. I’ve seen the crime committed specially with Butter chicken. So sweet in some places!

  3. March 17, 2010 9:02 am

    I love simple curries such as these. It goes to show that you dont have to go to a restaurant to get delicious food. will definately have to try your recipe.

    • March 17, 2010 9:07 am

      Thanks for visiting Katherine. I completely agree. Delicious, yet healthy food that ‘feels’ as sinful as restaurant food can be made right at your own home. Just checked out your blog and it’s quite neat! Thx for the comment!

  4. March 17, 2010 3:05 pm

    This looks SO delicious!

  5. Heather Conroy permalink
    March 18, 2010 11:38 pm

    I made It! Super delicious too! I could not find garlic and ginger paste at my local grocery store so I made my own in the mortar and pestle. I didn’t marinate the chicken overnight though because I wanted to eat the curry for dinner, but I managed a few hours. I served it without rice but with green veges. Great recipe and I will put it in my favourite recipe folder. Thanks Sabera!

  6. March 19, 2010 2:04 pm

    So happy you liked it Heather! Garlic + Ginger paste was actually made ONLY by mortar & pestle by my mother back home. She then started grinding it in a blender when electronics got cheaper in Indian due to globalization :-). Infact, I feel the best flavor comes from home-made spices. Ofcourse one of the objectives through my recipes is to offer quicker ways to make yummy food, hence the shortcut suggestions.

    And marinating chicken for a few hours is fine. You can use the same recipe for mutton or beef, in which case, marinating overnight would be best.

  7. David permalink
    March 14, 2012 11:22 pm

    Tried it. Loved it. It took me two trips for items I thought I had and three hours to prep and cook (Did let the marinade sit overnight). This was great. Thank You. Thank You.

    • March 18, 2012 10:26 pm

      Your comment just made my day, David 🙂 So happy you liked the recipe and the curry!

  8. RekhaJustinSekar permalink
    August 6, 2012 1:14 am

    I was searching for a restaurant style chicken gravy, finally i got urs.I ll prepare and reply u. Is adding these much tomatoes makes the gravy sour taste?

    • August 27, 2012 8:04 pm

      Hi Rekha. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. The tomatoes will add a tangy taste to the curry. If you’re not a fan of that type of flavor, you can adjust the tomatoes per taste. This recipe is quite forgiving so modify it as you wish!

  9. Nirali permalink
    November 10, 2012 9:31 pm

    This recipe was great. I’ve been trying to recreate my aunts old recipe and this really hit the mark. To make it a little easier, I used a big can of petite diced tomatoes and one large onion instead. I also eyeballed a teaspoon of the Rajah brand tandoor masala. This will become a staple in our house 🙂

    • November 11, 2012 12:25 am

      Nirali your comment made me smile 🙂 Thank you so much for trying my recipe and taking the time to write back here! Love that you’re closer to your aunt’s recipe. I’m going to have to try your suggestions!! 🙂


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