How to make an authentic Indian chicken curry at home

What’s for Dinner?: Leave out the stock cubes and ramp up on spices for a traditional curry bursting with flavour

Shilpa Razniewska is a food photographer, stylist and blogger. She shares her recipes on her website

This is my go-to chicken curry for when I don’t have much time to make something lavish but I am still craving a nice warm bowl of curry. It is a beautiful combination of spices and flavours that tastes delicious served with rotis, chapathis, naans or with basmati rice.

In India there are many different varieties of chicken curry, it is so much more than just a tikka masala. Every region has its own version of a chicken curry. Where my parents come from, a south Indian city called Mangalore, coconut is used a lot since it is grown there in abundance. Therefore the chicken curry is made using freshly grated coconut blended with spices.

But this version is tomato based and this recipe is the way it is made in any Indian home, simple, traditional and authentic, using everyday basic Indian spices. Also, we never use chicken stock when making a curry, the flavours and taste come from the aromatic natural spices.


I’ve added an optional green chilli but leave this out if you prefer, although I sometimes add two or three chillies when I really want some heat. You can alter the spices and heat to your liking.

What you’ll need:

Serves 2
1 tbsp ghee or sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste (or 3 cloves of garlic and 1 inch of fresh ginger very finely grated)
1 green chilli (optional)
5 fresh vine tomatoes roughly chopped, or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
1½ tsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground red chilli powder (or paprika for a milder version)
½ tsp garam masala
500g chicken breasts, cut into 2cm cubes
110ml of water
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish (optional)

How to cook it:

1 Heat oil or ghee in a large non-stick pan, add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. This will take around five minutes.

2 Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for another minute. Then add the green chilli if using and pop in the chopped tomatoes. Fry on medium heat until the water in the tomatoes dry out, or add the tinned tomatoes and fry for about six to eight minutes, then add the tomato purée and stir until well combined.

3 Add all the dry spice, mix well. Now add the chicken and make sure the masala is coating the chicken.

4 Add water and reduce the heat, and cook until the chicken is well cooked, about 10 minutes. If you like more gravy, feel free to add more water.

5 Serve garnished with fresh coriander, along with basmati rice or naan.