Home-Style Chicken Masala Curry

Chicken Masala Curry- Serves 3

I am always trying variations on my traditional chicken curry recipe. I try and change things every week if possible. So sometimes, it’s green chicken curry, red chicken curry, Seyal chicken curry, Ashlesha’s coconut chicken curry, or this one – what I am going to call “Home-style Chicken Masala Curry”.

This particular recipe  is made with lots of caramelized onions, tomatoes, fresh ginger, garlic and cilantro. Four basic and common spices like cumin, coriander, red chilly powder and turmeric are added. Yogurt is also added for a tangy flavor. For another variation on this curry, omit the yogurt and add 1/4 cup coconut milk yielding a creamy, smooth taste!


  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cleaned and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 inch ginger, freshly grated
  • 4 big cloves garlic, freshly grated (I use a microplane zester)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped finely/ coriander leaves
  • 1 medium tomato- pureed
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste (gives it a bright red color)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder (I use Kashmiri- degi mirch, see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup oil (I use canola cooking oil)
  • salt to taste


Cut the chicken and sprinkle salt on it and keep aside.

Heat oil in a vessel. Add cardamoms, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

Note: When the oil is hot, cardamom,cloves and cinnamon stick tends to pop so stand back.

Add the onions and caramelize them to a dark brown color. Add a dash of salt to it while browning, as this will help them to release water and brown faster. This will take upto 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you do not want them to burn!

After the onions are caramelized, add ginger, garlic and fresh cilantro. Fry this for a minute.

Add the pureed tomato and tomato paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Cook the tomatoes on medium heat till the oil separates from  them. This will take another 10 minutes.

Add the chicken, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and red chilly powder and salt to taste.Keep frying this for 10  minutes on medium heat, making sure the chicken is well coated in the onion-tomato “masala”.

Lower the heat, add the yogurt, one teaspoon at a time and fry. Add the yogurt slowly so it does not curdle. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, till it’s all mixed in. Add 1/4 cup of hot water and cover and cook on medium to low heat for 15 minutes or till chicken is cooked. (See note if using coconut milk instead of yogurt). Check for seasonings.

Serve hot with rice or Indian bread “naan” or “chappati”. Enjoy!


  • Kashmiri Degi Mirch is mildly spiced and has a bright red color.
  • I usually buy tomato paste in a tube. Easy to use and store.
  • Variation on the curry: Skip the yogurt, add 1/4 cup hot water and cook the chicken for 15 minutes. After the chicken is cooked, add 1/4 cup of coconut milk to it. Simmer on low heat for five minutes. Ready to serve.




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