Spicy Chicken Curry


For this curry, chicken thighs and drumsticks simmer in a rich sauce seasoned with chiles, garlic, ginger, and an array of spices.

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins

When Neelam Batra was growing up in New Delhi, her parents and aunts rarely let her help out in the kitchen. She learned to cook only when she moved to the United States, more than 30 years ago, and needed to put dinner on the table for her husband. Batra created this Indian recipe from memory; her vegetarian mother would make it for her father as a special meal.  

Spicy Chicken Curry
Jerrelle Guy


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 6 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken drumsticks and thighs

  • Salt

  • 4 jalapeños, coarsely chopped with some seeds

  • 2 dried red chiles, broken

  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped

  • 8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • One 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced crosswise into paper-thin rounds

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fenugreek seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Garam masala, for sprinkling


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Season chicken with salt and add to skillet. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet along with jalapeños and dried red chiles. Cook over moderately high heat until sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add onions, garlic and ginger to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep brown, about 8 minutes.

  2. Spoon onion mixture into a food processor. Add coriander, cumin, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and 1 teaspoon of salt and puree. Transfer onion mixture to skillet. Add tomatoes and chopped cilantro to the food processor and puree.

  3. Return chicken pieces to skillet along with any accumulated juices. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until onion sauce begins to stick, about 8 minutes. Stir yogurt into skillet, then stir in pureed tomato and cilantro. Simmer curry over moderately low heat, turning chicken pieces occasionally, until cooked through, about 50 minutes (add 1/4 cup of water to skillet towards the end of cooking if the sauce gets too thick). Season curry with salt and transfer chicken to a platter. Pour sauce on top, sprinkle with garam masala and cilantro leaves and serve.

Make Ahead

The chicken curry can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently, adding a little water if necessary.

Suggested Pairing

A fruity aromatic white with no oak or tannin will harmonize best with the subtle spiciness in the chicken curry, potatoes in spinach sauce and creamy eggplant. Consider a fragrant Torrontés from Argentina or a lighter styled Gewürztraminer from northern California.

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