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Learn to make an easy and delicious Yogurt Chicken Curry. Gluten free and Nuts free.

Yogurt Chicken Curry

Yogurt Chicken Curry - The chicken curry from Northern India which is must try for every Indian food lover. This flavorful curry has no sugars, no nuts, no creams but a simple and flavorful Indian mother sauce base made with yogurt, onion, garlic and spices. 

This is a kinda curry which Indians love to enjoy with homemade whole wheat bread, crispy charred naan, or fresh steamed rice... any day of the week.

Time and again, when people ask me for a good chicken curry recipe.... I feel necessary to reach out and tell everyone what is a good chicken curry or how to make a chicken curry? 

Now, every restaurant has a different definition of chicken curry and that's what locals in that area are known too. Actually, even in India, every region has local variation of chicken curry. Yogurt based curry is, by-far, the most popular and authentic chicken curry of Northern India... where in South, coconut milk or tamarind is used as main substitute for yogurt.

Chicken and Greek Yogurt Curry

In different regions... few change in spices originate a new kind of Chicken Curry. Like:

1) Addition of tamarind and potatoes and it becomes - Vindaloo
2) cream and it becomes Korma
3) greens instead of turmeric and it becomes saag chicken curry.
4) Lots of chilies and it is Kashmiri Chicken Curry
5) or lots of warm spices and you have the Khara Chicken Curry.

This list is so endless that it will be unfair if I just list one ingredient and say a name of curry.

This post I'm dedicating to making a perfect, homemade Indian-style... I mean, North Indian-style chicken curry which is made with thick Greek-style yogurt, warm spices, chicken, onion, and garlic. The curries you taste in buffets in US are nothing like this home-style curry. There is no sugar, no creams in this to mask the flavor of spices. It is not hot spicy curry but you will be able to taste every bit of love that has gone into it.

Easy Chicken and Yogurt Curry

To make chicken curry, I start by grating the base mother sauce ingredients. Mother curry sauce or masala is grated mixture of onion, garlic, ginger and green chili. It is not a paste but coarse grated mix which is sauted in oil or clarified butter until oil shows on sides and onion, garlic are lite golden brown. These mild caramelized bits of onion give subtle sweetness to the curry. In this brown mixture, grated tomatoes are cooked until they fully disintegrate. This cooked mixture of onion and tomatoes - a.k.a mother curry sauce can be prepared up-to one week in advance.

Now, it is time to add the spices. A quick saute of spices awaken flavor, taking curry to whole new level.

After sauting the spices, the star ingredient - yogurt is added. Mostly, yogurt is hung or allowed to drain while masala cooks. This removes water content from yogurt leaving behind thick and creamy, whey like yogurt. I usually use Greek yogurt because it is closest and ready-to-use match of hung-curd (yogurt). I add yogurt in small batches and mix well after every addition to avoid curdling.

Once, yogurt is fully mixed... Only step left is to add chicken, water and then cook until chicken is fully cooked and gravy is thick. I complete this step in variety to vessels. In instant pot pressure cooker, slow cooker, dutch oven or simple heavy bottom deep sauce pan too. The time taken is usually same as time taken to cook the chicken in any of these.

Not that hard, right?

Make masala, mix-in add yogurt, add chicken!

Viola! Curry is ready!

Note: Coconut milk is a non-tangy non-dairy substitute for yogurt. If you want to keep curry dairy free.. You can also use almond yogurt instead.

Easy Indian Chicken Yogurt Curry

For my family, it is a meal we grew-up with. So, no one say "no" or no one even speak while enjoying a bowl of chicken yogurt  curry with their favorite side of naan/bread/rice. The only voice you will hear is to ask for some more gravy!! :)

I'm wrapping-up today's post very quickly because I need to get up to cook dinner... I might cook the same chicken curry again... feeling nostalgic after sharing this post with you...

Honestly, all ingredients for this recipe will be in your pantry. I bet! If you can't find spices, use mix of garam masala and curry powder instead. Enjoy a cozy winter night with a hearty chicken curry, made Indian home-style!

Enjoy and don't forget to share with me your favorite childhood recipe that you still fell nostalgic about. 

Have a wonderful day! -Savita

Serve Homemade Naan Bread on the side:

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Yogurt Chicken Curry

Yogurt Chicken Curry
Total Time Prep Time Cook Time Difficulty Easy Yields 4 - 1 Cup Servings Serves 4 Notes No. of servings depends on serving size.
Smart Swap Replace chicken with paneer for a vegetarian yogurt curry.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Chicken  (boneless or bone-in chicken thighs)
  • 1 Cup Yogurt  (Greek style yogurt)
  • 1 Cup Red Onion  
  • 4 Garlic  (cloves)
  • 1 inch Ginger  
  • 1 Serrano pepper  (or 2 small green chili)
  • 1/2 Cup Tomato Puree  (or 2 ripe tomato, grated)
  • 3 tbsp Canola Oil  
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder  
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder  
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric  
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder  
  • 1 Mace (Javitri)  (blade)
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala  
  • 1 tsp Salt  

Directions

  • 1. In a food processor, grind onion, garlic, ginger, green chili to a coarse paste.
  • 2. Heat oil in deep pan or pressure cooker. Add onion mixture and cook stirring often until mixture is medium brown, 5-8 minutes.
  • 3. Add all spices and saute for 30 seconds. Add grated tomatoes with salt and cook until oil separates (5-8 minutes). Reduce heat to low. Add **yogurt in small batches and stir quickly after each addition to mix in so that it not curdles. Add chicken and cook in masala for 2 minutes.
    Additional Notes
    **Don't use watery sour yogurt for this recipe. Read Notes.
  • 4. Add 1 cup water, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fully cooked (15-20 minutes). Or if using pressure cooker, add 2/3 cup water, cook under high pressure for 10 minutes. If gravy is too thick, add little more water. If gravy is too thin, boil mixture to evaporate some liquid.
  • 5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with naan bread. Enjoy!
Savita's Notes:

**Yogurt Use Note Please don't use regular watery sour yogurt for this curry. It will curdle. Yogurt should be thick Greek yogurt which is not very sour. If you are not sure about yogurt use or afraid it will curdle.. Use half yogurt and half cream and mix it in last step after the curry is ready.

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8 comment(s)

  1. Greek yogurt curdles in step 4 . Any mistake in method .? Should I add 1/2 cup of hot water rather then cold water ? When boiling the yogurt mixture it will curdle for sure .

    Hi Karl, usually greek yogurt is fine for me but regular yogurt has more tendency to curdle. Yogurt curdle usually for 2 reasons: temperature difference or very sour yogurt. I would do this: 1) bring yogurt to complete room temperature before using. Switch off heat and wait a minute when mixing in. Mix in small 2 tbsp batches and stir-in quickly instead of all at once. Add 1/2 water and bring to heat slowly.. medium, then high. Add more water only if you need later. 2) Don’t add salt with tomatoes but later after water comes to boil. Salt sometimes cause yogurt to curdle. 3) Another, safe, out-of-way approach is to mix-in some cream with yogurt. 4) Or skip yogurt, add water, bring to boil and cook chicken as Step 4 suggests. Then switch off heat, add room temp yogurt 2-3 batches and mix it in. Heat briefly. This also saves from curdling. I hope it helps.
  2. Hi Savita, This recipe is making my mouth water...however, I live in Mexico and Chili Powder here means ground chili (you even have to specify what kind of chili you want grounded). By chili powder you mean the chili mix that is sold in the USA to make Chili con carne or any kind of chli grounded?

    Hi Claudia, I know and love the variety of chili Mexican cuisine offers. The chili powder in this curry is for no-flavor heat and color. Bit like cayenne. Chili con carne often has smoked chilies powder which is not the flavor of this curry. In short, ground red Chile de árbol or cayenne (adjust to taste) should work. I hope it helps. Happy Cooking!
  3. Hi Savita, Your recipes look so good and the hints for substitutes are the best I have found. But unfortunately I have a husband who can’t eat any food with tomato in it. Can you suggest any substitute for tomatoes in your ‘mother curry’ sauce? I’d be forever grateful if you could.

    Hi Carol, your question got me thinking. Tomatoes in curry contribute in consistency, tang, color and flavor of curry. But I remember my mom even not using tomatoes when yogurt was very tangy. So I suggest to add 1/4 cup more thick yogurt. This will help a bit in flavor, consistency and thick base. Use mild sweet paprika so that you can add more without making curry hot. These two fixes will yield delicious curry with good color without tomatoes. On a side note, to mellow flavor of everything and give some body to tye sauce, I add 1.5 tablespoon of chickpea flour and saute it for 1-2 minutes with mother sauce. This will make sauce thicker, round the flavor of spices and add nutty mild taste without nut pastes. I hope it helps. Let me know if you have more questions. I will be happy to help.
  4. I'm looking forward to making this. I was wondering what chicken parts work best, whether you use bone-in or boneless, and how you suggest cutting the chicken. Also, using the pressure cooker, do you add less water? Thank you!!

    Hi Liz, I use chicken thighs. Boneless work best. Sometimes I use 50-50. Bone-in stay more moist but sometimes pressure cooking melts away lot of meat from narrow bone sides.. which means more flavor just less on bones. I would cut pieces on thick sides, like 2 each thigh and bone-in leg can be left whole. I only add 2/3 of cup. I hope it helps.