Mother's Day

Meera Sodha's Mum's Chicken Curry

April 17, 2017
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

"I left Lincolnshire at the age of 18 to go to university in London. Secretly homesick, I would stop in Indian-owned newstands on the way back from class, lingering over the magazines and quietly listening to the owners speaking in Gujarati, just for comfort.

When it came to food, I was at the mercy of the dorm chef, a Jamaican with an adventurous streak who would create delights such as corn and strawberry salad, indiscriminately seasoning everything with pepper. With every bite, I'd be thinking about home and my ultimate comfort food, my mum's curry chicken."

Excerpted from Made in India (Flatiron 2015). —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • two 1 3/4-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • one 2 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 fresh green chiles (or 1 teaspoon chili powder)
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strained tomatoes (such as Pomì)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt (plus extra for serving)
  • 2 pounds 3 ounces skinless chicken legs, or 1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  1. Put the ghee and oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it's hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, and green chiles into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and bash to a coarse paste.
  3. Add the paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, then pour int the strained tomatoes and stir. Cook the strained tomatoes for a few minutes, until the mixture resembles a thick paste, then add the tomato paste, ground cumin, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
  4. Whisk the yogurt and add it slowly to the curry. Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken. Pop the lid on the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve it with a tower of chapatis, hot fluffy naan, or rice, and offer yogurt at the table.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • rob
  • Noblenab
  • susie1967
  • Mike Sidman
    Mike Sidman
  • Amanda Trayes
    Amanda Trayes

12 Reviews

[email protected] March 13, 2023
Amazing curry upgrade from the creamy “cheap” curry, which is also good. I made it mild for my family but it would likely be even more delicious spicy.
rob May 27, 2020
A very reliable recipe that is none the less enjoyable. Cooking the sauce until it is quite thick and then adding the chicken seems to be the answer to the common problem of runny and over cooked chicken curry.
Noblenab November 17, 2018
This has got to be one of the best Chicken curry recipes I've ever tried. And so easy to make. Fresh ginger and garlic mashed together with the hot peppers and salt make all the difference.
susie1967 January 26, 2018
A winner! I also have made this curry several times now and it never fails. I usually use chili powder (use more or less depending on your taste and the heat of your powder) and serve it with Meera's perfect basmati rice. It also tastes just as good if not better the next day. (I'm cooking for two but there's no point making a half batch of curry!)
Shai11 January 16, 2018
I’ve made this 3 or 4 times now - it’s excellent. One of my go-to’s. Last time I made it, I didn’t have any tomatoes on hand so I used the tomato paste (as noted in the recipe) with green bell pepper, which melted into the sauce while the chicken cooked. I was surprised at how delicious and rich the resulting flavor was. Both ways are great. Enjoy!
Mike S. May 30, 2017
I made this last night and it was so incredibly delicious! I served it over crispy rice and I'm still dreaming about it today.
FJT April 24, 2017
Fantastic flavour for minimal effort. I normally add more chiles to add a bit more heat.
Amanda T. April 20, 2017
This looks delicious but it is chicken tikka masala.
jonakocht April 23, 2017
No, it's not. Tikka masala is a tandoori chicken (Grilled, yoghurt-marinated chicken) that's then simmered in a sauce. This is not made with tandoori chicken. Tikka masala is a anglo-indian dish, where as this seems to be more authentically Indian.
Shalini April 29, 2017
I agree!
Tamara N. April 19, 2017
Does anyone know what strained tomatoes are?
Natalie R. April 19, 2017
In my experience, it's thick, smooth, puréed tomatoes. You can take tomato purée and put it in a strainer to drip for half an hour to get it.