Thick Chicken Curry

I’ve posted a lot of chicken curry recipes over the years. Keep in mind that the name “chicken curry” doesn’t refer to a specific dish but to a genre: chicken cooked with spices in a thick or thin gravy/sauce. Variations in the spices and proportions and ingredients make for results that are subtly or wildly different. And this is home cooking: while there are canonical forms of many dishes (sliced by region, religion, caste, community etc.) in the home cooking repertoire, there are as many, if not more, that arise out of playing with what is at hand (or what catches your eye as you are cooking). Those of you who’ve made a number of my recipes know that this is the genre in which most of my recipes fall and this recipe is no exception. I improvized it when I first made it and it was a big hit at home. And so here it is for you all to try as well.


  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
  • The following whole garam masala: 2 tez patta/cassia leaves (Indian bay leaves); 3-5 pods green cardamom; 3-5 cloves; a large piece cinnamon/cassia bark
  • A large red onion, thickly sliced
  • At least half a head of garlic and equivalent amount of ginger, ground to a paste with enough water to get the blades of your mixer jar to move
  • The following ground to a coarse powder: 1 tspn coriander seed; 1 tspn zeera/cumin, 1 tspn black peppercorn; 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seed; 1/2 tspn black/dark brown mustard seed
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 tspn red chilli powder of choice
  • Salt
  • 4 tblspns crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5-2 cups water
  • 3-5 hot green chillies, slit
  • 1 tblspn chopped cilantro with a fair bit of stems + 1 tblspn chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 3-4 tblspns of mustard oil (preferably) or neutral oil of choice


  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat till it just smokes (if using mustard oil) or over medium heat till it shimmers (if using regular oil) and add the whole garam masala.
  2. As soon as the tez patta darkens dump in the sliced onions, reduce the heat to medium-low and saute, stirring often for 7-10 minutes or till softened and beginning to brown.
  3. Raise the heat to medium, add the ginger-garlic paste, mix in and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  4. Add the ground masala, haldi and red chilli powder, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add the chicken, mix in thoroughly.
  6. Add the salt, mix and saute, stirring often till all the moisture the chicken releases is gone.
  7. Add the tomato, mix in and saute, stirring often till you have a thick aromatic sludge coating the chicken and the oil begins to separate.
  8. Add the water and mix thoroughly.
  9. Add the slit green chillies, cover the pan and cook over medium-low till the chicken is almost done.
  10. Uncover the pan, add the stem-heavy cilantro, mix in and simmer, uncovered till the gravy has thickened and the chicken is done.
  11. Garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro and serve.


  1. The pepper and the slit green chillies will add a fair bit of heat; and the ginger and mustard will contribute some bite too. How much hotter you make it is up to you; use a milder or hotter red chilli powder as you like.
  2. I use the Costco organic chicken drumsticks for this—they usually come in packs of 5 or 6. You can use a mix of drumsticks and thighs but you do want bone in there.
  3. You can add more water if you’re worried about things sticking but make sure to simmer it down at the final step so that the gravy is thick and just barely pourable.
  4. Chicken curry made this way is very good with rice but it’s even better with chapatis or parathas.
  5. And yes, I made an Instagram Reel of this being made a month or so ago.


7 thoughts on “Thick Chicken Curry

  1. Eep–just noticed a brain-fart error in the ingredients: the spice powder quantities should all be teaspoon not tablespoon. Fixed above. If anyone has already made it with the much higher amounts please accept my apologies if it was too heavy or send me money if you liked it anyway.


  2. This turned out good. I sauteed the chicken to brown the skin first, so I think that’s why mine didn’t have the beautiful deep red color as yours. But it was tasty; added a little hing in there too.


  3. Not traditional maybe, but I think browning with the skin on, you get tasty brown bits and also during cooking it adds flavor. Maybe then remove the skin before serving…


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