Easy Garam Masala Chicken Curry

by Kiran on April 10, 2012 · 75 comments

in Chicken, Curries, Indian

Hello and Happy Tuesday 🙂

Thank you so much for the birthday wishes over here, on Twitter, Facebook etc. I was literally on moon and the Husband had to bring me back to reality, a few times.

For those who voted and continued your support towards my nomination at Saveur — you mean the world to me. I owe you cookies & hugs.


Back to regular recipe programming — and today is all about making curries. How many times have you spotted a delicious recipe and left frustrated with a long list of ingredients that either you’ve never came across before, ever — or sourcing it in your local grocer was almost impossible?

I’ve been there and done that — and its perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed, especially with unknown spices. Many would take the easier route and skip over yummy recipes.

Well, I’m here to dispel the myth about curries. It can be simple to make with common ingredients from your pantry.

I promise.

I bet many hoard on garam masala and have never used it more than a few times. The versatility of this spice is often overlooked.

Garam masala is made with a handful of spices, all toasted and blended to create delightful aroma and flavors. Garam masala is often made with spices that are vastly found all across India such as: peppercorns, cloves, mace, cumin seeds, cardamom, star anise, nutmeg, coriander seeds etc. Its the individual selection of spices that eventually transforms it into an aromatic blend of personalized garam masala.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe


  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (yields 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 heaping tbsp garam masala (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup hot water


  • 1 lb of bone-in, skinless chicken
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup yogurt


  1. Add the marinade ingredients in a medium non-reactive bowl. Mix to coat chicken with yogurt and grated ginger, thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan on medium-high. Add cooking oil. Once oil is hot, add cumin seeds. Wait till seeds sputter before adding onions. Sprinkle salt and cook until onions are fragrant and translucent.
  3. Once onions are lightly browned and fragrant, add turmeric + chili powder. Stir to combine.
  4. Add marinated chicken + bay leaves, and stir until everything is combined. Fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add garam masala and hot water. Mix and cover to cook on medium heat for 40 minutes, until oil separates and chicken is fully cooked.
  6. Serve hot with naans, saffron scented basmati rice or chapatis.

Off to catch up on emails, comments and menu planning for next week. It’s been crazy busy ever since I returned from Food Blog Forum — Have a great day 🙂

What intimidates you more about curry? The spices, method or long list of ingredients?


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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} April 10, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Kiran- this sounds heavenly!! I love love love curries! And I voted for you! I hope you win!! 🙂
Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} recently posted..Cream Cheese Deviled Eggs

2 Kiran April 15, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Katie — thanks for the support, dear 🙂 xoxo

3 Ansh April 10, 2012 at 1:45 PM

This was the one you were talking about? Looks divinely delicious. Quick, easy no fuss!!

4 Kiran April 15, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Ansh — if you are referring to the tweet, yes!

5 Kathryn April 10, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Love how simple this is, garam masala is such a useful spice to have on hand. Congratulations too on the nomination, I was so happy to see you there!
Kathryn recently posted..orange blossom cake with cream cheese frosting

6 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM

Kathryn — thanks a lot sweetie. It’s a great honor to be a finalist 🙂

7 Rosa April 10, 2012 at 2:10 PM

This curry looks so good! I love garam massala and always make sure to have some on stock in my pantry.



8 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM

Rosa — thanks dear. Garam masala is so versatile and a great spice to have on hand!

9 Feast on the Cheap April 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Oooh, bookmarked! I’ve only ever made caribbean-style curry, but I am dying to try this one out in my own kitchen
Feast on the Cheap recently posted..Rich’s Light New York Cheesecake

10 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM

FOTC — so exciting! Please let me know how it tastes 🙂

11 Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 10, 2012 at 4:12 PM

I’ve been all wrapped up in my own drama for awhile, so happy belated Birthday! And I just popped over and voted for you. Crossing my fingers for you!!
Jen at The Three Little Piglets recently posted..Double Caramel Brownies

12 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM

Jen — thank you so much my friend, and I hope you are doing well. Been too busy myself. Hopping over 🙂

13 Vijitha April 10, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Wow, looks so finger licking good. I love the way garam masala brings in an exotic touch to a bland dish and this recipe is so simple that I can recommend it to Indian food enthusiasts who are cooking Indian dishes for the first time.
Vijitha recently posted..Easter special: How to cook lamb for South beach diet?

14 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Vijitha — ditto! My thoughts, exactly 🙂

15 cassie April 10, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Gorgeous photos and gorgeous flavors here! I love garam masala and many Indian spices and dishes. This sounds so good and so simple!
cassie recently posted..Milk Bar Mondays – Crack Pie

16 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Cassie — thanks sweetie 🙂

17 Biana | Meal Planning Tips April 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Kiran, this recipe sounds great! I like making curries, and this recipe sounds simple and delicious at the same time.
Biana | Meal Planning Tips recently posted..Roasted Asparagus And Grape Tomatoes Salad Recipe

18 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Biana — thanks dear 🙂

19 Alyssa @ Everyday Maven April 10, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Kiran – I voted for you – Congrats on Saveur – that is amazing! I love making curries and this looks fabulous and easy!
Alyssa @ Everyday Maven recently posted..Lightened up Matzo Brei aka Fried Matzo

20 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Alyssa — thank you so so much for voting!! xoxo

21 the wicked noodle April 10, 2012 at 6:27 PM

I love curry!! Gorgeous photos. Makes me want to go get some chicken and get cooking!
the wicked noodle recently posted..spanikopita

22 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 1:21 AM

Kristy — awww, thanks sweetie 🙂

23 Margarita April 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM

I hoard garam masala and use it too! My stash will definitely be used for this recipe! I love that picture of the spices… gorgeous!
Margarita recently posted..Portland Love

24 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 1:35 AM

Margarita — thanks sweetie. Glad we all somehow share similar food antics 😉

25 Sara {OneTribeGourmet} April 10, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Congrats on your nomination Kiran…you have my vote! Great recipe..love garam masala!
Sara {OneTribeGourmet} recently posted..My Trip to Cairo, Egypt & An Egyptian Spiced Dukkah Eggplant Fries

26 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Sara — thank you so much love xoxo

27 Ira Rodrigues April 11, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Im thinking of green lentils right now and you marination sounds superb!
* well, I want your hug and jar of cookies LOL
Ira Rodrigues recently posted..Potato Croquettes, Kroket kentang

28 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Ira — lol, I wish I could get the hug and cookies to you immediately 😀

29 Zee April 11, 2012 at 1:33 AM

Hey Happy belated birthday!
You are right about garam masala being the most over looked spice.. My family and I sprinkle a little on every curry because we love how it enhances the flavor! And intimidation by curries? Not at all!
Great recipe! Looks pretty easy too..
Zee recently posted..Lemon Sorbet

30 Kiran April 16, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Zee — thanks for the birthday wish 🙂

31 chinmayie @ love food eat April 11, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Such a simple curry recipe! I am sure this is what a lot of people who are new to chicken curry would love this recipe.
chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Date, Orange & Chocolate Granola Squares (Vegan + Nut Free)

32 Kiran April 17, 2012 at 12:23 AM

Chinmayie — thanks dear 🙂

33 Lubna Karim April 11, 2012 at 3:50 AM

Lovely recipe….fuss free…i like the simplicity in the recipe….sometimes it is out of laziness to we may skip attempting long list of ingredient recipes….
Lubna Karim recently posted..Strawberry-Yogurt Smoothie Topped With Muesli

34 Kiran April 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Lubna — thanks dear! Ditto about the long list of ingredients 😀

35 Jessica@Overnight Business Cards April 11, 2012 at 4:41 AM

Hi Kiran, This is a mouth watering dish and I really love it. I would like to give a try but I am wondering where I can get cumin seeds? Will it be ok if I will not use this?

36 Kiran April 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Jessica — welcome to Recipebox and thanks for commenting 🙂 Cumin seeds are readily available everywhere these days. You can get it from Walmart, Target etc.

37 Nami | Just One Cookbook April 11, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Kiran, I just voted for you!!! Congratulations! I’m so honored to know your blog – I went through all the categories and I only know your blog!!! How AWESOME! I really hope you will win this!!

This chicken curry looks yum!
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Stir Fried Shrimp & Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce – Guest Post By Wok With Ray

38 Kiran April 22, 2012 at 7:38 AM

Nami — thanks so much for the support, dear 🙂 xoxoxo

39 Denise April 11, 2012 at 11:07 AM

My vote is for you, fingers crossed!
I often make a curry very similar to this one (usually eat it with roti), but always thought it was just a strange Dutch variation and nowhere near “authentic”. Looks like I wasn’t doing too bad;) Your version looks aromatic and delicious, too bad Florida is just a bit too far for a quick visit now!
Denise recently posted..Coconut Cookies

40 Kiran April 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Denise — thank you so so much for your support 🙂 xoxo

41 marla April 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Love this chicken recipe & the photo of the spices is so FUN 🙂

42 Kiran April 22, 2012 at 11:40 PM

Marla — thanks sweetie 🙂

43 Gretchen O'Donnell April 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

My husband and I have been into these sorts of foods lately…so so so good! Will totally bookmark this recipe!!!
Gretchen O’Donnell recently posted..The Adventures of Flat Ruthie! Part One.

44 Kiran April 22, 2012 at 11:41 PM

Gretchen — thanks honey. Do let me know how it tastes 🙂

45 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen April 11, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Yup, I have a bag of garam masala in my spice cabinet but never know what to make with it!
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Creamy Whipped Feta Dip with Mint Parsley Pesto and Cucumbers

46 Kiran April 22, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Sylvie — Garam masala can be versatile. Replace it with “curry powder” and experiment 🙂

47 Charles April 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Curry is something I’ve been meaning to cook more of. I’ve tried a bit in the past and while the results are perfectly “ok” they always seem to lack a certain something. This looks lovely – always nice to get some more inspiration for when I finally start trying to make some real awesome curries!

By the way – I read recently that one shouldn’t add the garam masala until the very end of the cooking… but I’m not sure where I read it, or how reliable that source is… did you ever hear anything like this?

48 Juliana April 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Happy Belated Birthday Kiran 🙂
This chicken with curry looks delicious…so tasty and full of flavor with the spices. Great paired with white rice…mmmm
Hope you are having a wonderful week!

49 Kitchen Belleicious April 11, 2012 at 6:17 PM

your pictures are simply amazing! So gorgeous and that chicken curry dish is something i can only dream about. I have to try this!

50 Jeff April 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

I love curry dishes, and this one looks like one of those perfect quick meals for a night. I’d definitely need some naan bread to help soak up the sauce! Yum!
Jeff recently posted..Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal

51 Sammie April 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

NOM! I would totally pick the naans over rice to go with this delicious looking chicken curry.. I love Indian food! Yours always look super flavourful and full of spices!! Can’t wait for Vaisakhi!
Sammie recently posted..EGG-citing Tropical Hot Cross Buns

52 Jeanette April 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

I love how simple this chicken curry recipe is. I used to so intimidated by all the ingredients in Indian cooking, but fortunately I have gotten over the phobia thanks to some cooking classes with a wonderful Indian cook.
Jeanette recently posted..Chopped Salmon Arugula Walnut Salad with Honey Wasabi Vinaigrette Recipe

53 anh@anhsfoodblog.com April 11, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Totally yummy! I love different chicken curry recipes~! I will try this version out soon 🙂
anh@anhsfoodblog.com recently posted..Kazuki’s in Daylesford & gorgeous autumn colors

54 vianney April 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM

the pics are stunning, love the earthy flavors. I have you on my google reader and just noticed your link is under recipebox~ I kept looking for Kiran, LOL!!
vianney recently posted..Chile Pequín en Escabeche – Pickled Pequíns

55 Jamie April 12, 2012 at 4:13 AM

Happy Belated Birthday! And I love curries and actually have several little containers of homemade garam masala given to me by friends and this is a perfect, fast and obviously delicious meal!
Jamie recently posted..2 DAYS IN NEW YORK

56 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 12, 2012 at 9:00 AM

That does look easy! I’ve tried To dumb-down quite a few of y Indian recipes as well due to the long list of ingredients.
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective recently posted..Raspberry Basil Mojitos & Cocktail Contest!

57 PolaM April 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM

That chicken looks amazing! I’d love to try some!
PolaM recently posted..Guest post at the German Foodie

58 Em (Wine and Butter) April 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

YES for making curries without tonnes of fancy ingredients!!! And we ARE hoarding some garam masala – how on earth did you know?!
Em (Wine and Butter) recently posted..Wine and Butter

59 kale April 12, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Congrats on the nomination. Well deserved!
kale recently posted..make your own: hummus

60 Yummy Morsel April 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Sooooooo Yummy! It’s mouthwatering!
Yummy Morsel recently posted..Chickpea Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

61 kankana April 13, 2012 at 2:42 AM

Even though I enjoy different kind of chicken dishes .. a simple chicken curry with Indian spice mix can rock my world any day 🙂
kankana recently posted..Chicken and Orzo Light Soup

62 Nava Krishnan April 13, 2012 at 9:09 AM

We cannot refuse curries and this curried chicken is one of it too. Garam masala is a must in my kitchen and it brings out the wonderful spicy aroma and taste into curries. Looks so good and my next of the list to be tried out.
Nava Krishnan recently posted..Restaurant Saravanaa Bhavan (Jalan Gasing) Petaling Jaya

63 Baker Street April 13, 2012 at 9:11 AM

This looks insanely delicious. I love the homemade garam masala. The aroma of roasted spices fills the kitchen. I must try your recipe soon.
Baker Street recently posted..Blueberry White Chocolate Coffee Cake

64 Corina April 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM

I love making curries and this one looks so good. I use garam masala in something most weeks as it’s so versatile.
Corina recently posted..Baked Arancini

65 Emily April 13, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Beautiful photos once again!! I have been wanting to make curry for a few weeks ~ now I have an amazing recipe to use!! Thanks girl!
Emily recently posted..Grilled Skirt Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

66 Shumaila April 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

The chicken looks insanely good! And looooove all the photographs! Congrats on being chosen as a Saveur finalist! That’s huge! All the best!

Pinning the recipe!
Shumaila recently posted..Tish Boyle’s Luxe Pound Cake

67 Barbara | Creative Culinary April 14, 2012 at 4:47 AM

I was delighted to see your name on the Saveur nominations and wishing you the best…you got my vote!
Barbara | Creative Culinary recently posted..Bacardi Cocktail – Another Classic for #HappyHourFriday

68 Magic of Spice April 14, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I do adore curries, and this one looks wonderful!
Congratulations once again…keeping my good energy thoughts your way 🙂
Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s on the side? Red Quinoa and Jade Pearl Rice with Sage Brown Butter

69 Kristi Rimkus April 15, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Congratulations! Sounds like you’ve had some very exciting events going on these past few weeks. This is a lovely curry. I really like that this is simple enough to make during the work week.
Kristi Rimkus recently posted..They’re Eating Kale Quesadillas

70 Kristi Rimkus April 15, 2012 at 4:24 PM

I forgot to say I posted my vote for you. Good luck!
Kristi Rimkus recently posted..They’re Eating Kale Quesadillas

71 Asmita April 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Hi Kiran,
This curry looks so flavorful! What I love about this dish is the simplicity. Few ingredients but full of flavor.
Asmita recently posted..Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

72 Honey What's Cooking April 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

omg, this looks so amazing. i love garam masala and this would easily taste fantastic. i’ve never cooked a whole chicken, i’m too scared. 🙁
Honey What’s Cooking recently posted..Friday’s Favorite Things – 4.13.12

73 Chris December 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Hi. This looks great. I intend to make it next week. At Stage 4 Do you fry the chicken until all sides have changed colour (no longer raw flesh) and also could you use Boneless chicken / boneless chicken breast. If not do you serve the chicken with the bones still in or remove the bones before serving. Thanks.

74 Lianne September 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM

With these measurements anyone eating this would need hospital treatment for burnt mouth
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

75 Michael O'Malley September 20, 2014 at 6:25 PM

I adapted your recipe for a 2.5lbs pork butt. No marinating. Just used a fine quality meat that was never frozen. Vigorously rubbed grated ginger into the meat with a tbs of fine sea salt. Left to sit in fridge for an hour covered. Chopped all you advised, but added garlic. Followed same with oil, cumin and onions. Then I browned all sides of the roast in a large ceramic pan. Added bay leaves, 2.5 cups hot water to 3 heaping tbs of garam marsala, let boil, reduced heat to simmer added half a pale ale and let simmer for 90 mins covered, occationally adding the other half of the beer (well maybe it was a different beer) and stirred. Removed, let sit 1-2 minutes, sliced over yellow rice and served with a pear chutney I found. The sauce/gravy was great over the top with a rainbow of carrots

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