This simple curry chicken recipe is so easy that anyone can make it at home.
Many people want to make chicken curry but are put off by the long list of ingredients. Cooking curry requires grounding various herbs and spices with a mortar and pestle. While this is by far the most authentic method to cook curry, there is a get-around way you can use to prepare a beautiful pot of curry in a short time.
I am using a good quality store-bought curry powder to prepare the curry chicken. It nearly cut the preparation time by half. The rest of the ingredients are freshly purchased from the local market.
Let’s deal with the nitty-gritty of the preparation. I will also highlight a few points that you need to pay attention to whenever it is applicable.
A step-by-step guide – how to cook curry chicken
1. Prepare the chicken
Chicken curry cooked with bone-in, skin-on chicken chunks are always tasted better than using meat alone.
The flavor from the bone and the marrow adds body to the curry, and therefore, the locals do not need a stock to cook. You can substitute the water with a cup of chicken broth if you prefer to use boneless chicken thighs.
The skin and fats under the skin also contribute to enriching the flavor of the curry. Therefore, lean breast meat is not the choice for making curry, as it lacks fat and connective tissue. Chicken thigh (dark meat) is the best part of making chicken curry. However, most of the restaurants cut the whole chicken into large chunks to reduce cost. Use skinless chicken thighs if you want to reduce animal fat in the curry.
Marination is not the most authentic way of preparing the chicken curry, but rather my improvisation by injecting the Chinese cooking element into it.
I marinate the chicken for three hours to let the flavor penetrate deep into the chicken pieces. Marination will result in every bite of the chicken being flavorful, not just tasty on the surface.
I marinate the chicken without yogurt. I use all the salt required to marinate the chicken. There is no worry that it will be too salty as part of the salt will dissolve into the gravy and be absorbed by the potatoes.
Note: You can skip this process if you are using chicken breast meat that is cut into small pieces.
2. Prepare the curry paste
Blend the fresh ingredients
While the spices provide the flavor, the triumvirate that comprises onion, chili, and ginger gives the body and texture of the curry. My easy curry chicken recipe does include chili and lemongrass. Get an electric food processor to blend all of them to save time.
- Cut the onions into large chunks. Onion is quite soft, so there is no need to cut it into small pieces.
- Slice the ginger into thin slices.
- As for the chili, remove the seeds and pith if you do not want the curry to be too hot. Cut it into short pieces. You may also want to adjust the quantity of the chili to suit your taste buds. The amount of chili in this consider moderately hot according to the locals (here in Malaysia). The perception of hotness varies vastly among different people, so you need to adjust accordingly.
- Lemongrass is tough. Therefore, cutting the lemongrass into small pieces before blending. Make sure you blend it finely as we do not want any hard pieces of lemongrass in the curry.
The aromatic vegetables provide the texture of the dish. Add some cooking oil to facilitate blending. I would suggest using corn oil, palm oil or peanut oil. Olive oil may not be the best option as we do not use it in our recipe.There is no need to add water into the blender as the onion and chili will release enough water to facilitate blending.
Saute the curry paste
Saute the curry paste in a pan until it turns aromatic. There is no need to add any cooking oil at this point. There should have enough oil in the curry paste.
The curry paste will become aromatic once the water in the ingredients has evaporated. Now we can move on to the next step.
3. Cook the chicken
- Add the marinated chicken and the remaining ingredients to a pan or a large skillet..
- Stir from time to time. The ground spices tend to stick to the bottom of the wok when you cook the chicken curry. This problem can happen even if you cook it over low heat. You need to stir the curry from time to time to avoid sticking
- Simmer until the chicken is tender and the potatoes are soft, and it is ready to serve.
How long should you cook the curry? The duration of cooking depends on some factors. You can cook a little longer for a thicker gravy. Make sure the potatoes are soft enough, and the chicken is fully cooked. Since the chicken chunks are large and with bone attached, it takes at least half an hour for the internal temperature to reach 70°C / 160°F. Use the kitchen thermometer to test the doneness of the chicken every time before turning the heat off.
The essential ingredients for chicken curry
Cut the potatoes into cubes, slightly smaller than the chicken chunks. Soak the potatoes in water to prevent them from changing color due to oxidization if you are not using them immediately.
Potato is the most common root vegetable to make curry. Potato serves two purposes. First, it helps to thicken the gravy. Secondly, it has an earthy flavor which enhances the flavor. If you do not include potatoes, you can add crushed cashew nut or candlenut to thicken the gravy.
Fresh tomatoes enrich the flavor of the curry. It should not overpower the spices so a small amount should be sufficient.
Coconut milk is a common ingredient for the curry. Its flavor greatly enriches the flavor of the gravy.
If you can get the supply of freshly pressed full-fat coconut milk, you are well on the way to making the best chicken curry. However, fresh coconut milk is not available worldwide. If you need to use the processed coconut milk available in supermarkets, make sure it has at least 20% of fat content. Otherwise, you need to use more than the amount provided by the recipe to get the sufficient flavor of the fresh coconut milk.
You can use milk and greek yogurt instead of coconut milk to enhance the flavor. You will expect the taste is different, but these substitutions are all workable.
One of the key ingredients you should include in this easy curry chicken recipe is the curry leaves. You probably already guessed that this is indispensable as the name says it all. Curry leaves are abundantly available in Asian countries. Get the leaves from an Asian grocery shop if you can’t find them fresh at the market.
You can keep the curry leaves in the chiller in an airtight container for one to two weeks. Keep them in the freezer if you want to preserve them for longer.
Use the best curry powder available
Be generous with the amount of curry powder. The quantity of the spices in most of the western developed curry recipes is far less than the original spice level in Asian chicken curry recipes. You need to include sufficient spices, as stated in the recipe in order to get the authentic flavor.
The best way to prepare authentic curry is to ground all the fresh spices with mortar and pestle. Some traditional markets in Asia sell ground spices on the spot, in which you can ask the vendor to supply the spice mix based on your recipe.
Here is the recipe for the home-made Malaysia curry powder, should you decide to make it at home:
Ingredients: 4 dried red chilies, 4 cardamom pods, 1 cinnamon stick (5cm length), 4 tbsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 10 cloves, 10 black peppercorns, and 1 tsp turmeric powder.
Method: Put all the dry spices in a spice blender to grind them into powder.
If this is too much work, using excellent quality store-bought curry powder is the next best option. The flavor and aroma of spices will inevitably deteriorate over time. Therefore, make sure you buy the curry powder with a long expiry date (or best before date).
Buy a small amount of curry powder, just enough for your cooking. Let the grocery shop keep the freshest stock instead of sitting in your kitchen cabinet.
Now it’s your turn to try this chicken curry recipe
When you mentioned curry, you will inadvertently relate it to the complex flavor derived from a myriad of Asian spices and herbs. You will think about the unique head and neck movements of Indian dance. You will be mesmerized by the love story of Shah Jahan, who erected the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world for the beloved console Mumtaz Mahal. You will think about eating Indian rice served on a large piece of banana leaf, with the irresistible chicken curry seeping through the heap of fragrance biryani rice.
You would love to cook up a pot of curry with the curry smell strong that reaches your neighbor’s dining room. The flavor will be more authentic, and the aromatic fragrance will enter your neighbor’s dining hall from your kitchen making them envy. It best to serve with basmathi rice, naan or any other flat bread.
So now it is your turn to get your hand dirty in the kitchen. Let me know the outcome in the comment section below, and I will be happy to help 🙂
More about curry powder
This chicken curry recipe is what we prepare in Malaysia, and naturally involves the Malaysian curry powder. It is interesting to know the result with other variants such as Jamaican curry powder, Japanese curry powder. I also found some recipes mentioned about yellow curry powder and red curry powder, but I assume it is pointless to mention the color without specifically indicated the country of origin.
Other ingredients you may consider to add to the curry are tomato paste, fish sauce, garam masala, black pepper and even lime juice. I do not use them in the recipe but is should be an interesting twist of flavor.
You may also like to try some Thai curries which taste differently. Here the Thai green curry on this food blog. If you like Indian food, here is the Indian style Chicken Madras curry for your reference.
Ingredients A (to blend)
- 150 g onion
- 25g ginger
- 70g red chili
- 100g lemongrass
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
Ingredients B (others)
- Marinate the chicken with salt for three hours.
- Cut the potatoes into wedges, about the size of the chicken.
- Blend ingredients A until it becomes a smooth paste, then saute until aromatic.
- Add the chicken to A, followed by the remaining ingredients in B.
- Simmer for half an hour until the potatoes are soft.
- Garnish with fresh curry leaves and serve.
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Serving Size:4 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 968Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 239mgSodium: 2028mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 15gSugar: 5gProtein: 69g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/31/2019