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Mastering Indian Style Chicken Curry: Tips and Tricks

An Indian style chicken curry is one of the most popularly searched recipes on the internet. There are thousands and thousands of recipes out there, but still, some of you may not be satisfied with the end product. Today, I will be reviewing the different tips and tricks that go into making a perfect chicken curry. If you follow these, I assure you that you will be making the best Indian style chicken curry every time. Namushkara and welcome to Curries with Boomby.

Tip Number One: Making a Ginger-Garlic Paste

I do not like using the store-bought pre-made ginger-garlic paste, so make your own, and I highly recommend that. Out of the humongous sized onion that I will be using, I took a quarter of the onion and will be blending it with the ginger and garlic along with two green chilies and a large tomato. If you do not want that chili heat, then please leave out the green chilies. You need a smooth paste like this if you want a smooth gravy, then you need a smooth blend.

Using Plain Unflavored Yogurt

Take the yogurt out from the refrigerator before you turn on the stove. Stir it thoroughly either with a spoon or a whisk. In this way, the yogurt won’t curdle when it hits that hot pan. If you are allergic to dairy, skip the yogurt but add another tomato while making the ginger-garlic paste. Your curry will still be delicious.

Heating the Pot and Adding Whole Spices

Put the pot on high heat. I love using mustard oil, but that is totally optional. Use any oil of your preference. If you think that’s too much oil, I would say no. For a good-looking chicken curry, you need that much oil for this much chicken. Allow the oil to be hot, then reduce the heat to low because the whole spices will go in. A dried bay leaf, a few green cardamoms (crack open the pods a little bit before adding to the hot oil so that they do not burst open), then cinnamon stick, and cloves.

Cooking the Onions

Then add the sliced onions and a sprinkle of salt to help the onions turn soft. Now stir the onions frequently on medium-high heat. Once you see those edges turning a little brown, lower the heat to medium-low and stir them continuously. Unless it is stated in the recipe to brown the onions completely, you do not have to do that. You want that beautiful golden color on the onions. Making them too brown will change the color of the gravy.

Now, I do not want the onions to get further brown, so heat low and just a splash of water to stop the onions from getting too brown. Then two essential ingredients go in: turmeric powder and Kashmiri red chili powder. You can even use regular chili powder, but I love Kashmiri red chili powder as it is mild in terms of heat level but has this gorgeous, vibrant color. After adding the turmeric and chili powder, stir just for about two to three seconds, and then add the ginger-garlic-tomato paste. Stir on medium-high heat for a minute or two, and then the chicken goes in.

Adding Chicken and Cooking

Now guys, please remember this: please keep the chicken in a colander or a strainer after washing it so that the excess water drips off before adding it to the pan. People make this common mistake of adding the chicken along with that water after washing it, but please do not do that. Stir the chicken on high heat. You want all that liquid that comes out from the chicken to dry up. This is very, very important. You’ve got to have that patience while making chicken curry. If you don’t have that patience, then please don’t plan on making this. See, there is almost no liquid now. When you see this, it’s time to add the next ingredient: salt goes in now after all that liquid dries up.

Adding Spices and Yogurt

Then ground coriander and garam masala powder, and finally, it’s yogurt time. Stir the yogurt one more time before adding to the pan. Remember guys, the heat is low at this point. Immediately after adding the yogurt, keep stirring everything to prevent the yogurt from separating. Once you see those bubbles showing up, you can give some rest to your tired hands and increase the heat to medium-low. Give a stir frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

Here I would like to say that the addition of ground coriander is totally optional. Well, some people may love hearing this, but the addition of spice depends on your personal choice. I see some people adding a lot of garam masala powder. I don’t add so much because in that way, we will be tasting only the garam masala, and it will be overpowering everything. Use spices wisely but not in excess.

Understanding When the Oil is Released

Okay, you hear this often in recipes: cook something until the oil is released or until the oil leaves the sides. What do you mean by that? It is when you see that oil floating on the surface, that is an indication that you’ve done a great job. See how that oil is floating on top? That is like telling you that you are making a delicious chicken curry.

Adding Potatoes

Okay, next I will be adding potatoes, but I am telling you guys, potatoes are totally optional. I make this chicken curry almost every weekend, and the addition of potatoes is a must for me because we love potatoes in a chicken curry. Those potatoes taste better than the chicken, and I am serious about what I am saying.

Adding Water and Sugar

Okay guys, then add about a cup of hot water. Please do not be tempted to add a lot of water. This is not a chicken soup, so there should be a gravy with a thick consistency. The next ingredient is also optional: that is sugar. As much as I know about the bad reputation of sugar, a little bit of sugar in this huge pot of chicken curry brings everything together, and it balances the flavors. Now cover on and let it cook on very, very low heat for 25 minutes. From time to time, uncover and give a stir.

Final Steps

After 25 minutes, lid off. Now before stirring anything, you will see some of those whole spices like cardamoms and cloves floating on top. Remove as much as they catch your eyes at this point to avoid any unnecessary drama at the table. Now, if you happen to see the development of a whole spice

drama, then please explain to everybody to push those whole spices to the sides of their plates because those are not meant to be eaten.
I finally like adding a pinch of ground mace and nutmeg. Again, these are totally optional, and your chicken curry will still be delicious if you don’t add them. So, what do you think looking at the gravy? Can you figure out any onions staring at you, or is the gravy looking like a watery mess with everything floating around? That’s how smooth and silky your gravy must look when you cook it.