Whats cookin' doc? 6 - Traditional Indian Chicken curry with Idlis

Traditional Indian Chicken Curry with fresh home-made Idlis

Sunday mornings are special to every family. It means a lot. Its that one time that families just wind down and relax, where the women of the house cook to their heart's content, the men watch cricket or play outside with their kids and brothers and the kids are all over the place. In my home, its all about food and relaxation. Special food, that we all have to wait for till Sunday arrives, arrives with the oncoming of the special weekend. Veg, Non-veg, sweets..you name it. I have decided to cut down the take-outs and cook more at home. So here's one recipe that's a Sunday favourite and
I am sure it'll blow your socks off too!

Traditional Indian Chicken Curry recipe
This recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta's 'Favourite Non-vegetarian dishes' cookbook. It basically taught me everything I know now about Indian non-vegetarian cuisine. A must try!


Serves 4

Chicken - 1 medium size (700-800g), cut into medium sizes
Thick curd - 1/2 cup, well beaten
Salt - to taste
Oil - 6-7 tbsn (a ladle full)
Bay leaf - 1
Cloves - 4
Cinammon - 2" stick
Cardamom - 2-3 pods
Onions - 3-4 large, ground to paste
Turmeric - 1/2 tsn
Coriander powder - 2 tsn
Red chilli powder - 1 tsn
Garam masala powder - 1 tsn
Ginger-garlic paste - 3-4 tsn
Tomatoes - 2, large, puréed in a blender
Tandoori masala - 1 tsn (if you don't have this, substitute with chicken curry powder)
Coriander leaves(fresh) - 2 tbsn, chopped


  1. Marinate the washed chicken pieces in a mixture of curd, salt and ginger-garlic paste for minimum 1/2 hour.
  2. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan or vessel, add the saboot garam masala (namely the cardamom, cinammon, cloves and bay leaf). Fry till it turn aromatic.
  3. Add the onion paste and fry till golden brown. (add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar for the cooking and colouring process of the onions to happen better and quicker).
  4. Reduce the heat and add 1/4th cup water (I skip this to add later), red chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and dhania powder. Fry for a minute.
  5. Add the tomato purée and mix well. Let it cook till the entire mixture starts to separate from the oil.
  6.  Put in the chicken pieces without the marinade (don't throw it away!) i.e: squeeze it to remove most of the marinade into the marinade-vessel before adding into the pan. 
  7. Now, stir the chicken pieces well on high flame till the water evaporates and the chicken turns dry and glossy. Note that the chicken leaves its own fat, and cooks in it.
  8. Reduce heat and add the marinade. Fry on high flame for 5-7 minutes till the marinade dries up and the oil separates.
  9. Now add 3 cups of water (lesser or more depending on how watery or thick you want it to be), give it a good mix.
  10. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes or till the chicken is done.
  11. Finally mix in the tandoori masala and garnish with coriander leaves. Ready to serve!
  • Always choose fresh chicken. When you go to the meat market, pick the chicken that is young and small, not big and old. See, the youngest are with the most tender flesh. 
  • Try marinading your chicken in the fridge for 1-2 hours, with slits made on the pieces. They soak in more of the marinade and become softer.
  • This is a spicy version of the recipe, the kind that my family enjoys. You can cut down the heat by reducing the quantity of cinammon sticks and red chilli powder to half. 
  • This curry goes well with rice, roti, dosa, idlis and even bread! So dip in and dig in!

Idli Recipe:
A family recipe

Makes about 24 idlis.

Dosa rice - 3 cups
Urad dal (Split black gram dal) - 1 cup
Poha(flattened rice) - a handful or 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste (about a tsn and 1/2)

Soda-bi-carb: 1/4th tsn


1. Wash the dal and the rice well (twice) and soak them in water for at least 7 hours. If you are having this for breakfast on a Sunday morning, soak them the previous day at about 12 p.m
2. Once they are soaked, grind them with water. Make sure that the batter is grainy but no bits appear. The consistency should not be watery(as in a cake) but medium-thick. If you drop a ladle-full from the top, the batter shouldn't fall in one flow, but in parts.  
                Several cooks swear by even flow of the batter, but I do not. Even flowing batter suits dosas, not idlis. It takes way longer to cook idlis if the batter is runny and once the idlis are cold, they turn rock-hard which I don't find to be useful.
3. Grind the poha as well with a little amount of water and add the sticky mass to the batter and mix. The poha help in making soft and fluffy idlis.
4. Cover the batter-vessel with a lid and let it sit in a warm corner of the kitchen, for it ferment and rise. Its preferably done overnight or atleast for 10 hours.
5. In the morning, 15 minutes before cooking - add the soda,salt and mix gently. You don't want to lose the air.
6. Grease the idli molds with oil and add water at the bottom of the cooker.
7. Add large-spoonfuls of the batter onto the greased molds. And cook them in the cooker without the whistle. During summer months, cook for 8 minutes. During winter - 9 minutes.
8. Unmold the idlis with a spoon and serve them hot! Can have 'em cold as well, no complaints.

  • You can use sour curd instead of the poha. Use the same quantity mentioned.
  • Grease the molds with ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil, it gives a richer taste...so good!
  • Never add too much soda, it may bloat the batter but it ruins the taste and makes you feel sick in the stomach with the soda-overdose.


  1. I love the bold flavors that curry has to offer. Also a lot of the spices used have good health benefits. Your chicken curry recipe looks tasty and the picture is stunning. Well done!

  2. @ Tina: Thanks for the comment and the compliment. Really appreciate it. I agree with you, nothing better than a good curry to calm the soul.


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