Chicken Curry

Cooking a meal is how I first learned what it meant to serve other people. Cooking can be hard work and every bit of that work can make it better for the people you are cooking for. That's my approach in government too: work hard and always focus on the well-being of the people I serve.

My grandmother taught me how to make chicken curry without a recipe and I make it in much the same way. When I made it for my child's birthday last year, I finally wrote it down. Here's my recipe.


Marinated Chicken

  • 4 pounds or less of whole chicken cut into pieces 
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon pressed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  • 3 chopped onions, salted (2 teaspoons) and crispy caramelized
  • 36 curry leaves. If you can't get curry leaves, just use 5 bay leaves instead.
  • 1 teaspoon fennel
  • 1 star anise
  • 6 cardamom pods, outside shells removed
  • 2 inches cinnamon stick
  • 12 pepper corns
  • 12 cloves
  • 5 tablespoons coriander
  • 3 tablespoons cumin

(If you are using powdered versions of any ingredient, look for special instructions below)

  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for marinated chicken, cover and set aside.
  2. While the chicken marinates, start making the crispy caramelized onions in a large pot. This takes a while and the trick is to use as little oil as possible and leave the pot uncovered. Heat the oil in the pot with a few chopped onions. When the test onions start to sizzle, add the rest of the onions and adjust the heat so the onions are just sizzling. Let the onions sizzle, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.
  3. When the onions start to brown, add the salt and stir constantly until the edges of the onions are dark brown and then add half the curry leaves and the next eight ingredients (fennel, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, coriander & cumin) and stir until toasted. If you are using powdered versions of any of these ingredients, add it after the whole ingredients finish toasting.
  4. Add garlic and fry the mixture for 30 seconds (count to 30).
  5. Add the ginger and fry for 30 seconds more.
  6. Add a little water and mash everything in the pot into a paste. Alternatively, turn off the heat, scoop everything from the pot into a grinder, grind it, return it to the pot & turn on the heat again.
  7. Add the rest of the curry leaves (or all the bay leaves)
  8. Add the marinated chicken (leaving excess marinade behind) and stir.
  9. Add just enough water to cover the chicken and bring the pot to a simmer.
  10. Cover the pot and poach the chicken until done (about 30 minutes).
  11. Optional: remove the chicken and increase heat to thicken sauce, then return chicken
  12. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice, naan, or chapati.

Yum! That's my family recipe. Please feel free to share this recipe with anyone!

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