Chicken Curry for the Soul

This recipe is a north Indian specialty with ubiquitous roots. Perfected to lip smacking standards in sooty dhaba or hotel kitchens, it is best eaten piping hot, with basmati rice and a side salad.

I’ve had this curry many times, mostly after long drives connecting two destinations, or after rough hikes in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is soul food, not just because it tastes great. It tingles the senses, and after hard days, it is just what you need. The bonus: it takes very little time to make.


  • Chicken — 500gms
  • Cubed potatoes (optional)
  • Mustard oil (alternately use sunflower oil)
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 10–12 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • An inch of ginger, julienned
  • Half a tomato and sugar, blended
  • Cardamom — 3–4 pods
  • Cinnamon — half a stick
  • Turmeric — half a tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder — half a tsp
  • 2–3 green chilies, chopped
  • Coriander leaves, a handful — finely chopped
  • Cumin seeds — a tsp
  • Garam masala powder — half a tsp (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • A cup of hot water


  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute.
  • Add the onions and cook till golden brown.
  • Add the green chilies and garlic.
  • Just before adding the chicken, add the ginger. Do not let the ginger get fried. Just warmed.
  • Add the chicken, potatoes, chili powder, turmeric powder, tomato and sugar puree, salt and let it cook till the chicken juices dry up.
  • Add the hot water and cook till the chicken is done.
  • Finish off with garam masala powder and coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with rice, naan or roti.
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