Basic Chicken Curry

Image © Pamela Lao/ Getty Images
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (44)

Indian chicken curry can vary from region to region, even the most basic recipe. What they do have in common, though, is a sauce made with onions, garlic, tomato and the authentic spices of India, such as coriander, turmeric and garam masala. Some recipes add a creamy thickening agent such as yogurt or coconut milk or cream. This recipe does not, however; instead, the thickness is created by grinding the fried onions into a paste and processing the tomatoes with the garlic and ginger pastes. The water added at the end helps balance the sauce's consistency. 

This most basic of chicken recipes is also one of the tastiest, but feel free to use this recipe as a foundation, adding ingredients you may prefer (like more spice, or curry leaves, which they use in South India). This recipe calls for whichever type of chicken you favor--white or dark meat--just be sure to remove the skin. Serve Chicken Curry with hot Chapatis (Indian flatbread) or plain boiled rice.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • 2 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 2 1/4 lb. (1 kg.) chicken pieces of your choice, skin removed
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish

How to Make It

  1. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat and fry the onions until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Turn off heat, keeping oil in pan.
  2. Grind the onions into a smooth paste in a food processor. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the food processor, grind the tomatoes and garlic and ginger pastes together into a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil in the skillet again and add the onion paste. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and all the spices. Mix well. (This is called a masala.)
  1. Fry the masala until the oil begins to separate from it.
  2. Add the chicken to the masala and brown well, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water to the chicken, simmer and cover. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with hot chapatis (Indian flatbread), Naans (tandoor-baked Indian flatbread) or plain boiled rice.