I’ve found a hack to making the most delicious Indian Chicken Curry in just 30 minutes! I love this recipe because it has all those warm spicy Indian flavors, but there are only two spice blends called for (yellow curry and garam masala). The curry sauce has a great depth of flavor, and it’s so easy to make. Perfect for a weeknight!
The other day it was quiet, much too quiet, and I knew I was in trouble. When you have a two-year-old, you don’t know where he is, you can’t remember exactly the last time you saw him, AND it’s quiet enough to hear a pin drop, you know only two things are possible: either your kid is dead, or he’s ABOUT to be dead when you find out whatever he’s been up to.
Those few moments that it takes you to search the house are filled with dread and anxiety. The eerie silence echoes in your brain as you berate yourself: “What was I THINKING leaving him alone this long??” What am I going to find, and how long will it take to clean up? Is it toothpaste smeared all over the girl’s hairbrushes again? An entire roll of toilet paper unraveled in the toilet? Legos on fire in the toaster? What is itttttt
I finally found him. He was sitting on the floor in the kid’s messy bedroom, toys everywhere, holding a bottle of Windex and continuously spraying his entire bottom half while gleefully squealing, “Feet! Feet! Feet!” And his feet were indeed soaked.
I saw a meme the other day that said having a 2-year-old is like having a blender without the top on running in your house at all times. It’s 100% accurate.
Easy Chicken Curry
Welcome to your new favorite weeknight dinner! This chicken curry is done in 30 minutes, for real. That is, if you don’t notice your kids Windexing themselves. Or you don’t get sucked into meme land on Instagram. Or distracted by an episode of Kim’s Convenience. (Have you watched that show yet?? SO FUNNY.) But barring distractions, it should be about 30 minutes! Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen?
I love this recipe. Not just like, LOVE. There is a secret hack that amplifies those curry flavors we all love, and it takes 2 minutes: we’re going to toast the spices in a dry pan on the stove to wake up their flavors. It is so easy and makes this curry totally next level!! The sauce is rich from the coconut milk and the chicken is nice and tender. Perfect main dish to go with the Roti recipe I updated last week!
How many types of curry are there?
SO many! “Curry” is really just a sauce or gravy seasoned with a combination of dried spices. It’s so simple that it makes sense that tons of countries have their own version. We’ve got red green or yellow curry in Thailand, Japanese Curry, or Indonesian curry. There are famous curries from Jamaica, Trinidad, and various regional curries from all over Africa and the Middle East too. YOU get a curry, and YOU get a curry! Like Oprah style you know??
I think the most well-known curries throughout the world are Indian curries though (hello can anyone say Chicken Tikka.) Today’s recipe takes inspiration from Indian spices. All you need is yellow curry powder and garam masala. And all this other stuff:
Ingredients for Easy Chicken Curry
Here’s everything you’re going to need! Super simple.
- yellow curry powder
- garam masala
- chicken breast or thighs
- kosher salt
- coconut milk
- olive oil
- fresh lemon juice
- chicken broth
How to make Easy Chicken Curry
All you weeknight dinner makers (it me, it me) are going to love just how fast this curry comes together. Here is a quick overview! More details below.
- Toast spices
- Chop & season chicken breasts
- Cover chicken with coconut milk to marinate a few minutes
- Chop & cook onion, jalapeno, and ginger/garlic
- Add lemon juice, add chicken in coconut milk, add broth
- Thicken sauce & simmer. Then EAT!
See how easy this is?? We are talking 30 minutes max my friends. Let’s get into the details!
First things first, chop up your chicken. You can use chicken breast, chicken thigh, whatever your little heart desires. Breast is what I usually have lurking in the freezer so I picked that.
Next gather up your spices. We are using yellow curry, garam masala, and cayenne pepper for a lil kick. You can omit or adjust the cayenne. Match the amount you add to the decibel level of complaint you will get from children. At least that’s how I usually measure cayenne.
What is yellow curry powder?
Yellow curry is a spice blend that usually has cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, and several other spices. Since it is a spice blend, every brand is going to be different! They are usually not super spicy. Yellow curry pulls in all those delicious Indian spices that are not-so-common, so that you don’t have to buy 14 bottles in the spice aisle.
What is garam masala?
Garam masala is another blend of Indian spices that is a little more sweet than curry powder. It is warm and earthy, with spices like cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, and mace (which is kind of like nutmeg.) It does a great job deepening and sweetening the flavor of our curry, and balances out the yellow curry perfectly.
And here is where the real magic happens. Dump all those spices straight into the DRY pan you are using for your curry, and toast them for a couple minutes on medium heat. I’m telling you, this step is a game changer!! I got this idea from a Jamie Oliver book I have, his recipe was for veggie curry and this was his hack for bringing out lots of flavor for a meatless dish. Well guess what, we are bringing out the flavor AND using chicken, so boom flavor there you go. Not only does it amp up the flavor, toasting increases the spices ability to permeate the other ingredients in the dish.
Add HALF of the spice mixture to your chopped chicken and stir it all together. Don’t forget to salt it first. There is no need to toast the salt, by the way. Salt ain’t no spice! It’s a mineral! Who ever heard of toasting minerals! ;)
Next up, add a can of coconut milk to your chicken and set aside. We’re going to let that sit and marinate for a hot minute while we prep and cook our veggies.
Garlic and ginger are best friends forever and absolutely made for curry. I would argue that you can’t even have a decent curry without ginger and garlic. We should just call it Gingarlic. Garlinger. They were meant to be.
Smash your garlic, peel, mince. You know about peeling ginger with a spoon right? PUT THE VEGETABLE PEELER DOWN. (Random side note, anyone still listen to Fiona Apple? She has a song called “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” except I thought the lyrics said, “Vegetable cutters.” Yeah. I’m a genius.)
Chop up that onion and jalapeno and heat up your pan. Don’t add the seeds unless you like a lot of spice!
Saute the onion and jalapeno, and add in the rest of the toasted spices. Add in the ginger and garlic after a few minutes, then a squeeze of lemon to brighten up those flavors!
Once it’s all toasty and smells heavenly, add in your marinating chicken.
Add in some chicken broth too, and then after simmering a while, thicken the whole thing with a quick cornstarch slurry. This just means dissolving some cornstarch in a minimal amount of cold water and adding to the curry. It thickens up right away.
What is curry sauce made of?
As you can see from the how-to, basically curry is spices mixed with liquid and thickened. The ingredients are about as varied and unique as the many different places they come from. This one is just coconut milk and spices thickened with a cornstarch slurry, similar to an Indian Korma. Other curry types combine yogurt and tomatoes, various stewed greens or vegetables, and many involve some type of red or green chile or chili paste to amp up the spice level. We’re keeping things simple for this recipe.
Is Chicken Curry healthy?
That’s the golden question isn’t it? And the answer? Maybe. Ha! Chicken curry can be as healthy or unhealthy as you like, depending on the ingredients used! Today’s Chicken Curry recipe is pretty healthy: mostly lean chicken breast protein with some healthy fats from the coconut milk. As with most foods, portion size is key. Serve this curry over some rice (or try Cauliflower Rice for a low carb option!) and with some vegetable sides, and you have yourself a totally healthy dinner! Here are some other ideas:
What to serve with Chicken Curry
- Okay, so rice is basically non-negotiable. Almost all curries, no matter where they come from, are served with rice. Try out this Coconut Jasmine Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice.
- Or if you’re low carbing it, you can fake rice by pretending your veggies are grains. I do this all the time!! It’s so good and such an easy way to cut calories. Check out this Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Rice or just regular Cauliflower Rice.
- The other Most Important Thing to have with your plate of curry is a traditional flatbread like Homemade Naan or Roti (Buttery Indian Flatbread). If you’ve tried them, then YOU KNOW. They are absolutely essential for scooping up every last bit of your curry sauce!
- You could also try this Asian-Marinated Cucumber Salad or this Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad. Either would add a nice, light, cooling flavor to your meal. I want to try this Raita recipe next!
- Looking for cooked veggies? Try Sauteed Zucchini and Squash, Roasted Broccoli, or this simple Curry Roasted Cauliflower. Add a spoonful of store bought chutney to really take any curry to the next level!
- Also, did we forget salad? Big ol green side salad never did a curry wrong.
How to store Chicken Curry (How long can Chicken curry be refrigerated?)
One nice thing about Chicken Curry is that the flavors are even better the next day! (Which means it’s a great make ahead meal if you’re short on time.) Toss it in a storage container with a lid that seals and wait til it cools completely before putting it in the refrigerator. Eat within 2-4 days! Zap it in the microwave to reheat. Or to reheat the whole dish, add the entire amount to a saucepan on the stove, cover with a lid and warm on low heat, stirring often.
More good news about this chicken curry: it freezes beautifully! Simply add the curry to a freezer friendly container or ziplock bag, wait til it is completely cooled, and then pop it in the freezer where it will stay good for up to two months. Thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours and then follow the same reheating instructions above. Or live life on the edge like me and add the whole frozen mass to a pan with a few tablespoons of water and heat super low and slow.
That’s a wrap! I hope you get to try this warm curry recipe soon! There is seriously nothing better. Here are some more dinner ideas!
More curry recipes you are going to love!
- Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce << one of the top recipes on my blog!
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala << check out the method on this recipe! It’s so fun!
- Slow Cooker Beef Curry << if you thought beef and curry didn’t go together…you were wrong.
- Cheater Chicken Biryani << done in 30 mins
- Sheet Pan Curry Chicken and Carrots with Basmati Rice << uses pre-cooked rice!
Easy Chicken Curry Recipe
- 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
- 1 & 1/2 pounds chicken breast, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 13-ounce can coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, smashed and minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and then minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about half a lemon
- 1 cup chicken broth*
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- In a large saute 12-inch skillet, toast the spices in a dry pan. This 2 minute process wakes up their flavor so much! Add 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the dry pan and set over medium heat. Let toast for 1-2 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it. Don't walk away and let it burn. Continually stir the dry spices so they don't scorch. After about 90-120 seconds, remove from heat and scrape into a small bowl.
- Chop 1 and 1/2 pounds chicken breast into bite size chunks, 1-2 inch pieces. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add the raw chicken pieces to a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the chicken in the bowl with HALF of the toasted spices. Stir to mix it together and get all the chicken coated.
- Open the can of coconut milk and dump it on the chicken. We're going to let it marinate for a hot minute while we chop our veggies.
- Chop the onion and jalapeno. Make sure you get all the seeds and membranes out of the jalapeno unless you like it really spicy!
- Smash, peel, and mince the garlic, you will need 3-4 cloves to get 1 tablespoon. (Or you can use the jarred garlic if you're in a rush) Peel the ginger with a spoon (it's the best way!) and mince up 1 tablespoon (save the rest of your ginger in the freezer for next time!)
- Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the same large skillet from before. Set over medium high heat.
- When the oil is hot and shimmery, add the chopped onion and jalapeno. Add all the remaining toasted spices to the onions. Let saute for 4-6 minutes, until the onions are translucent. If the spices are starting to stick to the pan, add a little more oil.
- Add the minced garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Do not let it brown, turn down the heat if necessary, or add a bit more oil.
- Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the pan (about half a lemon).
- Add the coconut milk and chicken to the pan. Add 1 cup chicken broth and stir. Turn the heat back up to medium high if you moved it down.
- Let the mixture come to a gentle boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer over medium low heat. Make sure there is a slow bubble happening.
- In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Stir it together until there are no lumps (add a bit more cold water if necessary). Add the cornstarch slurry to the chicken curry and stir.
- Let the curry simmer on the lowest heat you can while still maintaining a slow bubble. The curry is done when the chicken is cooked through, it should take about 5-8 minutes depending on how large your chicken pieces are. Test the chicken by splitting a piece with your wooden spoon to see if it's cooked. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from heat immediately so that it doesn't get overcooked and tough.
- Chop about 1/2 cup of cilantro and stir into the curry.