the only chicken curry recipe you’ll ever need

19 Jan
pakistani chicken curry

the most delicious chicken curry youll ever cook

Yes, you read the title correctly. This is the chicken curry recipe.

I went out to Dixie Chickens in Mesilla again on Friday, to help with the killing process and take some more photos. And of course I bought a chicken. According to Theresa, owner of Dixie Chickens, when eating a freshly killed chicken it should be refrigerated for no less than 24 hours and no more than 72 hours before cooking. So on Saturday night I was faced with the choice of what to cook with my chicken.

Fortunately, this was an easy decision to make.

As previously mentioned, I’ve been enjoying a 6-month love affair with Indian food and curries from all over the world, including: Thailand, Malaysia, the Caribbean, Vietnam, and my personal favorite, Pakistan. Pakistani curries are usually robust and earthy, tomato-based with a hearty structure and a complex palette of warming spices. I haven’t had a Pakistani curry yet that I didn’t like. And this recipe is my favorite among those.

The Special Chicken Curry (or “Desi Murgh”) dates back more than a half century, to when chickens were expensive and difficult to obtain and cook. If your host cooked this meal for you, you would know they spared no expense on your behalf, and you would shower them with gratitude. With the advent of chicken farming, however, this curry has been relegated to the realm of everyday meals in Pakistan.

It is best prepared with a fresh, organic, pastured free-range young chicken. Commercially raised chickens, in addition to being bad for the environment and animal welfare, are washed in chemicals and injected with fluids prior to retail, which change the taste and consistency of this recipe. I have tried it with both, and this last batch with the fresh organic chicken was by far the best.

Also, another note: it does not pay to cut corners with this recipe. I tried cheating once by chopping the onions/garlic in a food processor prior to cooking them, and the resulting meal simply was not as good. Follow the recipe.

Make this curry for dinner sometime this week. You won’t be sorry you did.

Special Chicken Curry

organic free-range chicken

organic free-range chicken, cut into pieces

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6


    • 1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
    • 2 large yellow or white onions, finely sliced
    • 2 tsp finely chopped or pressed fresh garlic
    • 2 tsp ginger paste
    • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
    • 2 oz unsweetened almond milk (or, if you are a
      dairy eater, you can use Greek-style yogurt)
    • 1 whole organic pasture-raised chicken, about 3 lbs, cut into 8 pieces
    • 6 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
curry mixture

the magic spices

  • 1-1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 large cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook until dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, allow to cool. Then blend to a paste in a food processor and set aside.

    browning onion slices

    perfectly browned onions

  2. With the remaining hot oil, cook garlic and ginger over medium heat for a few minutes. Do not burn. Add the tomatoes and almond milk and stir well. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the browned onion paste and stir to mix, then add all the spices, the bay leaf, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until oil separates out.
  3. Put chicken pieces in the pan and spoon the mixture over them. Add 2 cups of water (1 cup if using a commercially processed chicken). Put the lid on the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes. Chicken should be cooked through and tender. Add more water if needed.

    chicken curry from Pakistan

    simmering the curry for an hour or more makes for very tender chicken

  4. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the oil separates out. Add the cilantro and stir. Cook for another few minutes.
  5. You can remove the meat from the bones before serving, to make an easy-to-eat meal.
  6. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over white basmati rice, or with naan bread if you prefer. I also like to sauté some leafy greens or cook some asparagus to go along with it. Makes great leftovers!

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