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Chicken Curry

(recipe, Sona Pai)

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If you’ve never tried cooking Indian food, this is a great recipe to start with. You should be able to find everything you need at your regular grocery store, including garam masala, which is a blend of warm spices including cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Try a mixture of chicken breasts, thighs, and legs for variety.


  1. 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. Juice from ½ lemon
  3. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  4. 1 large onion, diced
  5. 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  6. Fresh ginger (a 1½-inch piece), peeled and chopped or grated
  7. 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  8. 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  9. 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  10. ½ tsp. turmeric
  11. ⅛ to ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  12. 1 can (14 ounces) whole tomatoes, or 2 fresh tomatoes, puréed
  13. Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  14. Salt to taste


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1½-inch cubes, sprinkle with the lemon juice and a bit of salt, and set aside.
  2. Put the olive oil in a heavy pot and sauté the onion over medium heat. After the onion becomes translucent (about 3 to 4 minutes), add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add all the ground spices and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Increase the heat slightly, add the chicken pieces, and stir to coat with the spice-and-onion mixture. Once the chicken pieces are no longer pink, add the tomatoes. (Use a spoon to break up whole canned tomatoes in the pot.)
  4. Bring the chicken curry to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add salt to taste, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with basmati rice, cucumber raita, and pita bread or naan.


Read Sona Pai's essay about how chicken curry and cucumber raita make a perfect pair.