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First heat oil in a deep pan, then add whatever whole spices you have - bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves & green cardamoms. Fry them till you get an aroma, just for a min.
Add chopped onions and chilies. Saute till the onions turn deep golden in color.
Next add ginger garlic paste and saute till you get a nice aroma. This just takes about a minute.
Then add tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Mix well and cook until the tomatoes turn soft & mushy.
Pour yogurt (or cashew paste), red chili powder, garam masala & coriander powder.
On a low heat, cook until the mixture smells good and the raw smell goes away.
Add chicken and coriander leaves. Fry till the chicken turns white or pale in color. This takes around 3 mins.
Cover and cook on a low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. This step is very important as the chicken absorbs all the flavors of the spices.
Meanwhile in a separate pot, heat up 1 cup water. Using cold water most times toughens the chicken so it is good to use hot water.
Pour hot water just enough to make a thick curry. Do not add too much water. Chicken curry will become runny. Sometimes chicken lets out lot of moisture. So use only as needed.
Cover and cook on a medium to low flame till the chicken is soft cooked and the curry turns thick.
Taste the curry & add more salt if needed.
You can also add another ½ tsp garam masala at this stage if you feel it is less in flavors.
Cover and cook on a low flame for 3 to 5 mins. When the chicken is cooked completely it will fall off the bone easily.
Lastly garnish with coriander leaves, cover and off the heat. Serve chicken curry with butter naan or jeera rice.