HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How to change up my chicken curry?

Below is my usual method for making chicken curry. I'll be doing it tonight, but does anyone have any interesting changes? It's such a quick meal for when I get home from work late, but I hate to repeat it too much.

Cut up chicken into small strips. Sprinle with salt, pepper, curry powder. Brown in small amount olive oil; set aside. Add thin-sliced onion and red pepper; saute until softened. Add garlic, saute one minute. Stir chicken back in. Add dollop of curry paste, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer. After a few minutes, uncover, add squeeze of lime juice and coconut milk to taste; simmer a few minutes to reduce and thicken. At the last minute, I stir in a dollop of yogurt spread (you could do butter) to add a bit of smoothness.

I serve it over basmati with a cucumber and dill salad on the side. It's quite good - a poor imitation of my favorite Indian restaurant, but it's tasty and easy. But what can I do to change it up? I did it with beef once, and it was delicious, but it ultimately was about the same sauce.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Try this chicken curry with cashews from Epicurious.com. It is to die for. I was skeptical about this at first, but once I tasted it . . . WOW!


    1. Use a vegetable oil with a high smoking point and get it nice and hot in a wok style pan, add some mustard seeds and kari leaves to the oil. When the mustard seeds start to pop add the chicken, this will change your flavor base just a little, if you can find them or you have them you could use a little fenugreek and/or nigella seeds as well. Indian cooks favor shallots over regular onions, and they are also not afraid to take those onions beyond the regular saute until soft stage, they'll often saute until they start to brown and crisp a bit. I add a finely diced serrano to the shallots and garlic to brighten the heat.

      What kind of curry paste are you using? I like to add a really generous amount of my favorite curry powder (I know I know, it's not very authentic, but it's a time saver) to a tomato sauce, I simmer for about 25-30, minutes and add fresh chopped cilantro and scallions, and heat through. Then I stir in a small container of strained Greek yogurt, but warm gently don't bring to a boil.

      I like your coconut milk variation, I may have to give that a try.

      I make a raisin and shallot pilaf with coconut milk that's great with a nice rich curry.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ballulah

        What's your favorite curry powder?

        1. re: melon

          I like a combo, I go to Kalustyan's (www.kalustyans.com) for Garam Masala, and the regular Madras Curry Powder that's readily available in a lot of grocery stores. I augment the curry powders with extra cumin, turmeric and cayenne.

        2. re: ballulah

          What is with all the raisin recipes I've been coming across lately? Is it an insidious plot by the Californian Raisin Commisson?

          1. re: hooliganyouth

            That insidious raisin recipe of mine was given to me by my friend in Mumbai! Haha. Sultanas (or raisins if you prefer must!) are pretty common in a lot of Indian dishes.

        3. Went to my girlfriend's grandmother's house for lunch yesterday and this is what she served. But what I thought was the most awesome thing about it was she put out all of these things to try on top (kinda whatever you have around) bananas, tomatoes, mango, raisins, chutney etc. Was great, and she varies it depending on what's in her fridge.

          1. Someone else asked about what kind of paste you're using - is it too obvious to suggest that you try a different paste? I think varying the veggies is another way to make it a different dish; maybe go half chicken and half a veggie and start switching up what kind of vegetable goes in? That can make a big difference to the overall experience... I buy a lot of Indian sauce and eat it over chicken, shrimp, chickpeas, spinach and rice... in different combinations. I also love eggplant curry though I've never personally been able to get it to come out the way I've had it at restaurants. I also once had curry with bananas in it but that was a little too much for me to try making at home, even though it was pretty good and very different.

            1. Stir in some spinach towards the end?

              Ditto but with cilantro\coriander leaves?



              1. Curry powder and pastes are fine for generic curries, but if you want it to have the explosions of flavor that you find in restaurant curries, I'm afraid you'll have to use individual spices. But I do it all the time, and I'm no great shakes in the kitchen, lol. The key is to fuse the spices and onion/garlic/ginger in the hot oil before adding anything else. Those flavors then permeate the rest.

                I've recommended this site before, and have gotten back thank-yous from people who checked it out, so I'm glad to do it again. http://www.realcurryrecipes.co.uk/ They have all the methods and recipes of real chefs from Indian restaurants in Britain (where they take curry seriously). Yesterday they had a chatroom with one of the chefs, and I learned a lot from that. It seems daunting at first, but once you learn the method, you can make a genuine curry in less time than you'd wait at McDonalds, lol. Tastes better, too.

                BTW they have all the side dishes, too. Raitas, veg dishes, rice dishes.

                1. You could go on line to find out how to adjust the seasonings to make West Indian curry instead of East Indian and you could make rotis. They're extremely good and a change of pace.


                  1. I have a good recipe for curry that doesn't use curry paste/powder if you're interested but if not, after cooking the chicken, you add all the veggies, etc, let them soften. Then you take out half, puree it (this recipe was written pre-hand held mixer days) in a blender, add it back it so you get a nice thick sauce. If you use the same paste, despite the meat, you'll get the same sauce. Curry takes a lot of spices if you don't use the mixes.

                    1. Coconut milk. That and make your own curry paste - or buy it something that doesn't have that generic feet "curry" taste.

                      I have to admit I prefer my curry a bit soupy and SE Asian styled.

                      1. I always add a bit of chutney to a recipe like this- and I add it to a lot of other things, too.

                        1. Make the chicken curry the way you do. Let it cool slightly and thicken. In a seperate pan (or preferably a wok) stir-fry up some coarsely chopped tomato along with julienned bell pepper, onion, ginger and green chilli (serrano or Jalapeno). When the veggies are cooked add some of your chicken curry and let the sauce coat the veggies and then allow most of the liquid to evaporate. You'll be left with karahi chicken.

                          1. Also, if you have an Indian grocery store near you, you can try the spice packets made by MDH or SHAN. Just follow the directions on the back. With a little tinkering I think you can make restaurant quality food with these. These packets should give you a very different taste to the standard curry powder/paste.

                            1. Here's how my mom taught me to make a basic chicken curry. We're from North India, but South Indian is very similar cooking wise, it's just the spices that are different.

                              In a blender, puree a large onion with garlic and ginger (south indian, sliced onion, don't puree). Fry in oil: whole cardamom, a piece of cinnamon stick, couple of cloves. (South Indian: mustard seeds and curry leaves) until the oil begins to separate from the onions. This takes a good 15-20 minutes -- it should have a nice brown color. Add a little water form time to time to keep it from burning. Then add in some pureed tomato or tomato sauce or tomato paste, depending on the type of curry you're trying to make. Add your spices: turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt. Garam masala if you want North Indian style. Fry for a minute, then add cut up chicken, bone in or boneless, and saute for 5-10 minutes so the chicken "fries" in the onion mixture. Then Add some water or coconut milk, bring to a simmer, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. You can add cubed potatoes about 10 minutes into the simmer time. Add chopped coriander before serving if wanted.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                Yay, Boogiebaby, the fresh ginger and garlic are definitely the way to go. Thanks for the authenticity. I was reading the thread and thinking lovingly of curry, but you hit the nail on the head with those real spices instead of the various powders and sauces.

                              2. I don't mean to be snarky (just gramattically curious), but what exactly do you mean by "change up?" I had never heard this phrasal verb (and it's not in any of my books on the subject) until about a year ago. I seem to hear it mostly on cooking shows on the Food Network. Does it mean "improve," or simply, "vary?" Or something else entirely?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Change up means vary. If you're changing up a dish, you're probably switching an ingredient out ;)

                                2. Usually I mince garlic to add to my chicken curry. Today I pureed/grated it with my Microplane zester, then stirred it into a paste of spices with a little water, before adding it to the sauteed onions. This resulted in a subtle change/improvement in flavor.

                                  1. I have two tried and true recipes posted on bakespace.com....
                                    one is my very own. the other is from cooking light.
                                    email me if you want or just visit enzymatic at bakespace.com

                                    1. How about Chicken Curry Salad?

                                      Chicken, wild rice, golden raisins. scallions, perhaps almonds and dressing of mayo, honey, curry powder.

                                      1. Here is an idea: try an authentic N. Indian/Pakistani recipe for Pasanda Kabaabs. I presume you are using boneless chicken breast? Say you have like 4 chicken breasts. Slice them into the size of half a deck of cards sized pieces. Pound them a bit with the back of a fork and then stab them with the fork to get holes all over. Set aside. Now whip 2 cups of yoghurt. You must use real yogurt like from the Middle Eastern or Indian or Greek store. Add in 3 tbs Shan Pasanda Masala mix, (masala means a mixture of spices)which you can also find at the Indian grocery. Or to make your own pasanda masala mix: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of a good brand of Garam Masala with 2 heaping tablespoons of coriander powder. Add a 1/2 tsp of red chili powder for heat. Okay, mix these spices into the yoghurt and add in your chicken, massaging the yoghurt into the chicken medallions. Marinade for one hour at least or up to 24 hours (that's best). When you are ready to cook the dish, heat 3 tbs oil in a pot. When very hot, add the chicken and marinade. Add salt to taste. Stir around on high heat until yoghurt separates from oil (maybe like ten minutes), then cover the pot and lower heat on low flame and allow to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The chicken will remain tender even though it is breast meat because it has been tenderized in the yoghurt. It is now ready. The gravy should be slightly thick, but still liquidy. Serve with basmati rice or naan.

                                        A variation: Ginger and Garlic Pasanda Kabab: add 2 tsp crushed garlic and 1 tsp crushed ginger to your marinade in the beginning The marinade spices are the same, except instead of chili powder you use course crushed red chilies. When you are ready to cook, first carmelize one onion in the oil, then stir in the Pasanda marinade. All the rest of the steps are the same.