My Favourite Chicken Curry

My Favourite Chicken Curry

I had to differentiate this chicken curry recipe by calling it My Favourite Chicken Curry because I have tons of curry recipes that I love and an almost embarrassing amount of them are chicken based.

Given I’m such a curry fiend, it took me a long time before I decided to tackle making it myself. I was so intimidated by spices. Food writers and chefs gave me the impression that being able to create a tasty spice mix was nothing short of high art. So, I didn’t do it. Until desperation set in.

There’s a lot of great things about living in Amsterdam, but the lack of good Indian restaurants isn’t one of them.

Especially when I came here more than twenty years ago, they were very thin on the ground. Actually, pretty much non-existent and I realized how spoiled I’d been in Scotland and London. After going cold turkey and living my first year here with zero curry, I decided it was time to learn how to make it myself.

One Indian restaurant I would recommend is the fantastically authentic Saravanaa Bhavan (this is a review in Dutch of the southern Indian veggie restaurant. But I’m sure you can translate it via google. If not, it at least includes contact information.)

Saved by Madhur Jaffrey…

Taking advice from the expert, Madhur Jaffrey, I got myself kitted out with a few essential spices and got started. And guess what? It was fun, easy and the results were completely delicious. My own curry recipes followed and now it’s all I can do to stop myself currying up practically every meal I make.

My Favourite Chicken Curry Recipe

This recipe originally came from a battered old recipe book I found in a second hand bookshop. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it to my taste, added stuff, taken bits out to get it just the way I like a chicken curry.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 35 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings

1kg / 2.2lb boneless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces.  You can also use chicken breast, but I feel that thighs give better flavour.  A nice compromise is to do half and half.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp honey
A handful of toasted flaked almonds to dress (optional)
5 medium tomatoes, halved
4 large garlic cloves
1 red onion, peeled and quartered

The Spices

A thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
2 fresh red chilis, stalk removed and halved
2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp of Kashmiri chili powder (or normal chili powder)
1 heaped tsp of paprika powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp of salt

How to make My Favourite Chicken Curry

  1. Place the tomatoes, ginger, onion, red chili’s and garlic in a processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a non stick pan, then add your blended paste and the tomato purée to your pan and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the honey and all the spices, stir through and cook for a futher few minutes at a gentle bubble.
  4. Then add the chicken pieces and stir through.  Set to cook at a gentle simmer and cover your curry with a close fitting lid.
  5. Cook for about twenty to twenty-five minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. 
  6. As with any dish, tasting is really important. So, before you serve, taste to check there is enough salt and spice for and adjust accordingly if needed.
My Favourite Chicken Curry

Tips and variations

  • As with all curries, the level and blend of spice is a very personal thing.  Whether it’s chili heat or cinnamon warmth. So, I think its best to start cautiously and add more as you go. The above quantities of spice are based on that strategy. The area where I’d advise most caution is with chili. If you are not sure how hot it will be, use the two fresh chilis and add the Kashmiri chili later on. Once the chicken is cooked, taste your sauce, if you want more heat, add some chili powder, pinch by pinch.

My biggest tip when it comes to curry is taste, taste, taste…

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to get Kashmiri chili powder.  You can substitute it with normal chili powder and a little more paprika powder. Kashmiri chili powder gives a really good colour as well as a little heat.
  • Very often I add red peppers to this curry. I de-seed them and chop the flesh into rough squares and add them to the curry paste to cook for a few minutes before adding the chicken.

Keep it simple, or tart it up…

  • I like to serve this curry with some plainly boiled white rice.  I love to toast almonds and sprinkle them over the curry for a little texture.  And, of course it’s always a good idea to serve some yogurt with any curry – just in case it is a bit hot.
  • Another side dish I often make is red onion pickle. Dead simple; slice red onions, squeeze enough lime juice over them to cover and leave in the fridge for about five hours – overnight is best.
  • If you would like the curry to be thicker. Remove the lid and turn up the heat allowing the sauce to reduce. Remember though, this will intensify the flavour and the heat. Likewise, you can add some water to have a thinner sauce.
  • You can make a bigger batch of the sauce and freeze it, so when you want curry all you have to do is add chicken. Equally, the completely cooked version including the chicken freezes really well.
  • If you’re a beginner when it comes to curry, have a look at my spice advice.


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