Ma's Chicken Curry

February 27, 2014

Y'all are in for a real treat here. My parents came out to visit and my mom, Rita and I made a huge Indian feast. OK, she made the feast and I followed her around taking pictures! When we lived in Southern California and would go to Northern California to visit, she would always be sure to have a big Indian Food dinner, because she knows it's my favorite thing in the whole world. Now that we live across the US from each other, these dinners are even more special to me. Although we've enjoyed many dinners in between, the last time we spent actually documenting and making these dishes was in 2007, for my Shonal's Kitchen Cookbook, which these recipes are now famously printed. Indian dishes vary in different parts of India as well as household to household.

These recipes have been handed down from the Indian women in my family, each one putting their own marks on them. At 9 years old, I was fortunate enough to travel to Calcutta, India and meet my Moms family and at the time, didn't know to appreciate the time we spent watching the women cooking ALL DAY, but the memories I have from that experience, I will forever treasure.

My 2 1/2 year old daughter is already enjoying spending time in the kitchen, learning to cook (she seasons the food for me!), I hope to pass these recipes down to her, as my Mom has done with me. I hope you enjoy these recipes and decide to make them, I guaranty you will love them.

In my Shonal's Kitchen Cookbook, there is a special Mom's Indian Food section,  where you can find all of these recipes and a whole lot more, we hope you'll check it out.

These are all fairly simple dishes. It's all about the spices!

We're starting with a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces. The skin has also been removed. Heat a large dutch oven pot with oil. Brown chicken on both sides,in batches, if necessary. 

Remove from pan and set aside.

Our base of ingredients, potatoes, onion and garlic. Chop potatoes into large cubes and finely chop the onions and garlic.

Our arsenal of spices. Turmeric, cumin, fresh ground coriander seed, Garam Masala, cinnamon sticks, red pepper and saffron. The aromas in the house that are about to happen are ridiculous.......just wait and see.

Add a little bit more oil to the pan and start adding spices to roast. We are starting with about a tablespoon of ground coriander.

About a tablespoon of cumin.

About 2 tablespoons of turmeric. Turmeric has many healing qualities in it and is very good for you. You may not think to use it in every day cooking, but it's something you can easily incorporate into your dishes and a great ingredient to keep in your spice pantry.  

Mom's quick! She's added about a tablespoon of Garam Masala and crushed about a half sized chili pepper.

In goes 2 whole cinnamon sticks and a pinch of salt.

And a pinch of saffron. If you don't have saffron, it's not going to kill the dish, but it certainly adds a nice touch of flavor to it.

Now it's time to roast these beautiful spices. The longer you roast them, the darker in color they get and the more intense in flavor. Continue stirring and roasting for about 4 minutes or so on medium heat.

Throw in the onions and garlic.

Coat the onions and garlic well with the roasting spices and saute for a few more minutes. Look at that beautiful dark brown color of the spices! Oh the smells in this house.......

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate back into the pan.

Coat the chicken well with the onions and spices.

And stir in the potatoes.

And toss in an iceberg of chicken stock. If you remember, I keep frozen portions of homemade stock and just pop them in a dish when I need them. It's so convenient and much better for you, not to mention, cheaper!

The iceberg has melted and we are ready for some simmer time. Put the lid partially on, lower the heat to as low as it goes and simmer for about an hour and a half. My Mom likes to make this earlier in the day, a) because its really time consuming and b) because it tastes so much better after everything has had a chance to hang out in the pot for awhile. Leftovers (if you even have any) are always tastier the next day. While the chicken is simmering, you can make the Curried Vegetables.

While the curry is simmering, we can put together the Raita, which is an Indian condiment made with cucumbers, yogurt and spices. The Raita and tomato chutney get served alongside the chicken curry and Curried Vegetables.

To make the Raita, combine 1/2 grated cucumber, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt. 

Light and tangy, raita is the perfect condiment to accompany your spicy curry dishes. Put in the fridge until ready to serve.

Here we have all 3 generations, my Mom, myself and my daughter, making Poori's. It was a very special moment to have all 3 of us cooking together like that!

The chicken is done, and oh my goodness, how delicious and beautiful does this look? We've added some chopped cilantro and it's ready to serve!

A fully loaded plate, waiting to be scooped up by some Poori's.....and my belly :)




Prep Time: 20 Minutes  Cook Time: 2 Hours Difficulty: Medium Servings: 4


  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, cut into 4 cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon SplenDishes Garam Masala
  • 1/2 red pepper, crushed (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • pinch of saffron
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • Raita: 1/2 grated cucumber, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt


Heat large dutch oven pot on high heat. Add oil and brown chicken on both sides. Remove from pot and set aside.

Lower heat to medium and add ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, Garam Masala, red pepper, cinnamon sticks, saffron and salt. Roast spices for 4-5 minutes.

Add onions and garlic and coat well with spices. Saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Add chicken and any accumulated juices back into pot. Coat chicken well with onion and spices, then add potatoes and coat them as well.

Add chicken stock, lower heat to as low as it goes and put lid on. Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Check halfway through cook time for liquid, if it needs more, add some water.

Serve with rice, Curried Vegetables, Poori's, Raita and tomato chutney.

All of these recipes and more can be found in Shonal's Kitchen, the Eclectic Home Chef.

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