Resonantly fragrant with aromatic spices like ginger, black pepper, cardamom and coriander, this Garam Masala Chicken Curry is a cinch to make. It reheats like a champ. And you can even make it ahead and warm it up right before you plan to serve dinner.
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Rich with coconut milk and aromatic, warming spices, this chicken curry is both simple to make and deeply flavorful. Fresh ginger and garlic, sautéed in ghee with sweet onions, form the curry’s base while turmeric and garam masala give it a punch of deep, sweet spice. And there’s just the faintest hint of cayenne pepper for a little heat.
What spices are in Garam Masala?
Like a lot of Indian chicken recipes, the success of this curry depends heavily on its spices. Garam masala is a deeply aromatic spice mix from India. It features various Ayurvedic warming spices thought to warm the body and support digestive fire.
While precise formulations vary from one household to the next, most recipes contain some combination of various warming spices like cumin, peppercorns and cinnamon.
- Cumin has an earthy flavor and helps to support digestion.
- Black Pepper helps to support digestion and gives the curry a hint of heat.
- Black and Green Cardamom give the curry a fragrant, uplifting flavor.
- Nigella or Black Seed is a spice with an earthy flavor with peppery undertones.
- Cinnamon has a sweet, spicy aroma and helps support blood sugar balance.
- Cloves are sweet and spicy, and also good in mulled wine.
- Ginger has sweet heat and helps soothe the stomach.
- Mace comes from nutmeg and has a bright, peppery note.
Preparing Your Spices
The more diverse your spice mix, the richer your curry’s flavor will be. And I like to keep a pot of this Exotic Garam Masala spice mix in my cupboard because it contains diverse whole spices.
The moment you grind your spices, they begin to lose their flavor. So while you can use any garam masala in this recipe, I’d recommend buying or making a mix with whole spices. Then toast and grind the spices fresh right before you make the curry.
How to Make Garam Masala Chicken Curry
After preparing your garam masala, you’ll want to warm some ghee in a Dutch oven, and then toss in your chicken. Cook the chicken until it just turns opaque, and then stir in the onions. Cook them both together in the hot fat, and then toss in your spices.
Once the chicken is coated with spices, stir in some diced tomatoes and a can of coconut milk. Simmer it all together until the chicken becomes tender and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Serve the curry over fragrant jasmine rice. And then top it with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro for brightness.
Garam Masala Chicken Curry Recipe
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large yellow onion chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 2 cups coconut milk
- chopped cilantro to serve
- Warm the ghee in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it melts, toss in the chopped chicken. Sauté the chicken in the hot fat until it turns opaque, and then stir in the yellow onions. Turn down the heat to medium, and sprinkle the salt over the onions. Stir frequently and allow the onions to cook in the ghee until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and garam masala. Continue stirring the spices into the chicken and onions until they're completely coated. Then stir in the diced tomatoes and coconut milk.
- Simmer the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is fall-apart tender and the sauce thickens – about 20 minutes. Serve warm over rice with chopped cilantro.