An Easy Punjabi Chicken Curry

Of all the curry recipes I’ve published, it’s the chicken curry recipes that people love most.

chicken curry

An easy chicken curry always goes down well

I’ve got a great Punjabi chicken curry recipe for you.

I learned a similar recipe a while back from the head chef at Sachins in Newcastle. This is a traditional curry dish that both lovers of authentic Indian food and British Indian Restaurant (BIR) style cooking will enjoy. The sauce incorporates all of the ingredients used in curry house base sauces but the ingredients are slowly cooked in the traditional Punjabi way.

I recommend using very little chilli powder. Personally I love spicy curries but this dish is great for everyone. You can always add more spice just before serving for those who love chilli. Fresh chopped naga chillies work really well here!

When I make this at home, I always roast and grind my own garam masala. It tastes so much better. I’ve included my basic garam masala recipe. You could use a good quality freshly opened store bought garam masala if you’d rather.

By the way, if you aren’t watching the calories like I am, add 100g of unsalted butter at the end of cooking. Whisk it in one tablespoon at a time until it melts into the sauce. Absolutely gorgeous!


An Easy Punjabi Chicken Curry
Serves: 4
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoon white cumin seeds
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick or cassia - broken into pieces
  • 8 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 8 free range chicken thighs - skinned and on the bone
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 5 black cardamom pods or 10 green pods
  • 4 onions - finely chopped
  • 4 tennis ball sized tomatoes - finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus a little more for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic puree
  • 1 tablespoon ginger puree
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. First make the garam masala.
  2. Place a dry frying pan over medium heat.
  3. When the pan is hot, pour in the masala spices and move them around so that they toast evenly.
  4. The spices are ready when they begin to smoke lightly. Remove them from the heat and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
  5. Now for the curry!
  6. In a large saucepan with a lid, heat the oil over medium high heat.
  7. When hot, throw in the cardamom pods and let the oil pick up their flavour for about 30 seconds.
  8. Pour in the chopped onions. Stir continuously so that the onions become soft and translucent. Fry for about 15 minutes ensuring that the onions do not brown or stick to the pan.
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Fry for a further five minutes.
  10. Now sprinkle in about a teaspoon of salt. This will help the onions give off more fluid.
  11. By now, the onions and tomatoes will be breaking down and turning into a thick sauce.
  12. Stir in about three tablespoons of the garam masala, the chilli powder and turmeric, the garlic and ginger and then plop in those chicken pieces.
  13. Mix it all up and then introduce the tomato paste and just enough water to cover the chicken.
  14. Cover the curry and let it simmer happily for about ten minutes. The sauce will become nice and thick and will stick to the chicken pieces as they cook.
  15. Remove the lid and stir adding a drop more water if you prefer a thinner sauce.
  16. You’ll know when the curry is ready when the oil comes to the top. Simply skim it off.
  17. Taste for seasoning adding a little salt and pepper and garam masala if needed.
  18. If adding the butter, now is the time to do it.
  19. Serve hot with homemade naans and/or plain white rice.




  1. Linda Baird says

    This dish is delicious, we love quite a lot of chillies and a naga or two does the job nicely. Prefer to use less fenugreek though.

    Thanks for your continued inspiration :-)

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very Lisa. I’m really glad you liked it. I’ve got loads more recipes on the way.


  2. Phil Thompson says

    Well Dan I think I’ll be having a go at this one…

    Found you via twitter yesterday and checked out the blog – look forward to following some of your recipes

    Can you recommend where to get ‘British Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil’ in the North East

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Phil – Thanks for stopping by. You can get cold pressed rapeseed oil at most good farm shops. It’s becoming very popular.


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