Irresistible Chicken Curry
Indian-inspired chicken curry made with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Thanks to yogurt and cream, this rich and creamy curry is pure bliss. It’s perfect for serving alongside basmati rice or naan. Jump to the Chicken Curry Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how we make it.
Watch us make the recipe
One of my earliest food memories is eating out with my Mom and Dad at a local Indian restaurant. Ever since, I’ve been in love with the aromas, flavors and colors of Indian cuisine. This intensely spiced chicken with yogurt and cream is our attempt at bringing some of those flavors and aromas into our own kitchen.
If you love these flavors and want to learn about Indian cuisine, we highly recommend that you spend some time reading recipes written by Madhur Jaffrey, Pushpesh Pant, Chitra Agrawal and Nik Sharma.
Making our Indian-inspired chicken curry
Let’s talk about this curry recipe, shall we? It’s rich, creamy, saucy and extremely flavorful. You want to enjoy this with something that will pick up all of the sauce like rice or naan (this soft and fluffy flatbread would also work).
We use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in our video, but chicken breast or bone-in chicken pieces work, too. When using bone-in chicken pieces, you should not need to adjust the recipe since the simmer time should still be enough to cook the chicken until tender. That said, you can always add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to the simmer time if you feel the chicken needs it.
The flavor and aroma of this chicken curry is incredible. In addition to fresh garlic and fresh ginger, the spices we use are listed below. We call for ground spices in the recipe since that’s what most of us have available. If you have whole spices, simply grind them using a spice grinder or small coffee grinder before adding them.
- Cumin — Tastes warm and earthy.
- Coriander — Tastes warm, floral and sweet.
- Turmeric — Adds incredible color and tastes earthy with some bitterness.
- Salt and black pepper
- Garam Masala — A warm, sweet spice blend that differs regionally and from home to home. (The mix typically includes cardamon, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.) Garam Masala is added towards the end of cooking. You can buy or make the blend. We especially enjoy this one from The Spice House.
If you don’t have one of the spices listed above, we highly recommend adding it to your spice cabinet. The moment you taste this curry, you will want to make it again. We also use all of them in other recipes in Inspired Taste. Here’s a few to bookmark so that you can come back to them later:
We use cumin to make homemade hummus and our homemade enchilada sauce. I love the use of coriander in these easy chile butter shrimp tacos and in this grilled swordfish recipe. As for the turmeric, we use it to make my all time favorite soup recipe, this lentil soup with turmeric and lemon.
Our tips for recipe success
Marinate the chicken. In the recipe, we ask that you marinate the chicken in spices for at least 20 minutes before making the curry, but we encourage you to marinate for longer if you have the time. The chicken can be left out at room temperature for about an hour or if you plan to marinate for longer, cover it and place into the refrigerator. The chicken can be left to marinate up to 24 hours in the fridge, although, you don’t get much additional benefit after 8 to 12 hours.
Use fresh garlic and fresh ginger. We don’t recommend swapping the fresh garlic and ginger for dried in this recipe. Fresh ginger lasts at least a week in the fridge so don’t worry about wasting it. We love to juice leftover ginger (like in these ginger shots) or use it to make this spicy garlic ginger edamame!
Use whole fat yogurt and don’t skip the cream. This recipe isn’t the one to lighten up with lower fat yogurt or milk. Plain full-fat yogurt and cream make the sauce of this curry perfectly rich and mouth-watering. The yogurt helps to tenderize the chicken and along with the cream, it balances all the spices. I use plain unsweetened yogurt.
Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time. In the recipe, we ask that you stir in the yogurt a spoonful at a time. This adds an extra minute, but it helps to prevent the yogurt from separating or curdling. Using full fat yogurt also helps to prevent curdling.
Irresistible Chicken Curry
This Indian-inspired chicken curry is rich, creamy and saucy. Serve it with rice or naan bread so that you have something to pick up all of the creamy sauce. We do not recommend substituting the yogurt or cream in this recipe since they add richness and flavor to the sauce.
You Will Need
1 to 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional for heat, add an extra 1/4 teaspoon for medium-spicy
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
A 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or use ghee
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons full-fat plain unsweetened yogurt
1 teaspoon Garam Masala, see notes
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Handful cilantro leaves, chopped, optional for serving
- Marinate the Chicken
- Make Curry
Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces, and then add to a bowl. If you’d like to leave the chicken uncut or if you are using bone-in chicken pieces, the chicken can be left whole.
Scatter 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper over the chicken. Toss well and set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Make ahead: The chicken can be left to marinate up to 24 hours, keep it covered and stored in the refrigerator.
Add garlic, ginger, onion and 1/2 cup of water to a blender or food processor. Blend until mostly smooth. An immersion blender with cup attachment can also be used.
Heat the oil or ghee in a wide skillet (with lid) over medium-high heat. Arrange the marinated chicken into the pan so that it is in one layer and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and place the skillet back onto the heat.
Add the onion-ginger mixture and cook, stirring often, until all of the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric over the onion-ginger mixture, and cook for about 20 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste, turn the heat down to medium-low and then cook another minute.
Add the yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, stirring it into the sauce before adding anymore.
Return the chicken pieces and any accumulated juices to the pan along with the remaining cup of water and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and then cover with a lid. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the Garam Masala and cream. Taste the sauce and add the final 1/4 teaspoon of salt if you feel that it is needed (we almost always add it).
Turn the heat back up to medium-high and cook, stirring gently every now and them, until the sauce has reduced a bit and thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with fresh cilantro scattered on top.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Bone-in chicken can be used in the recipe. Use about 3 pounds. There is no need to de-bone or cut the chicken. You can make the chicken with whole chicken pieces and should not need to adjust the recipe since the simmer time should still be enough to cook the chicken until tender.
- Garam Masala is a warm, sweet spice blend that differs regionally and from home to home. The mix typically includes cardamon, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. The Garam Masala is added towards the end of cooking so that the spices perfume every bite. You can buy or make the blend. We especially enjoy this one from The Spice House.
- Ghee is a type of clarified butter popular in Indian cuisine. Butter is cooked until the milk solids separate and turn toasty brown. The butter is then strained. Since the milk solids and moisture have been removed, ghee has a higher smoke point and longer shelf life compared to regular butter. You can make ghee at home or buy it.
- Make ahead tips: The chicken can be left to marinate in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. Store leftover curry in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Recipe inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Malai wali murghi (Chicken with cream)
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.