Punjabi Chicken Curry

Updated: Jan 17

Learn how to make this aromatic, spicy, and absolutely delicious chicken curry!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Resting time: 2 to 12 hours

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 6 to 8 people

Soy and Dairy Free

Another recipe inspired by the exciting flavors of the Indian Subcontinent!

I love bold flavors and spices. This dish has them both. It is simple and not pretentious in any way. Just another excellent dish from India that packs so much flavors in every bite! It is not fancy or luxurious but it hits the spot. And that's the amazing thing about Indian food: humble yet satisfying!

This is my own recipe. I came up with it after researching and testing multiple recipes. I finally put together the things I liked and was successful in creating an amazing plate of curry.

What is Punjabi Chicken?

Punjabi Chicken curry is just chicken that has been marinated in an assortment of flavorful aromatic spices and then cooked in a thick tomato sauce.

What is the flavor profile?

Layered. Full of exotic spices. Complex. Spicy. Vibrant. Tangy. Aromatic.

What ingredients will I need to make Punjabi Chicken Curry?

Chicken breasts or thighs, spices (curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cardamon, coriander), crushed tomatoes, red onions, Thai or jalapeño peppers, ginger paste, garlic paste, salt and pepper, vegetable oil, water, and fresh cilantro (coriander).

What else will I need to make this dish?

A non-reactive bowl or zip loc bag, measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board, a knife, a wooden spoon, and a large cast iron pot with a lid.

Can I make substitutions?

Yes. You can also use fresh ginger and garlic instead of the store-bought paste. Also, you can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes.

What is Punjabi cuisine?

Punjabi cuisine is a culinary style originating in the Punjab, a region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is now divided in an Indian part and a Pakistani part. This cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct and local ways of cooking. One is a special form of tandoori cooking that is now famous in other parts of India, UK, Canada, Hong Kong and in many parts of the world.

The local cuisine of Punjab is heavily influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle prevalent from the times of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Locally grown staple foods form the major part of the local cuisine. Distinctively Punjabi cuisine is known for its rich, buttery flavors along with the extensive vegetarian and meat dishes. Main dishes include sarhon dā sâg (a stew whose main ingredient is mustard greens) and makki di roti (flatbreads made with cornmeal).

Karrhi is a spicy, yellow gravy with cakes made of chickpea flour (besan), containing lemon juice, red pepper and turmeric. It is commonly served with rice or naan.

Basmati rice is the indigenous variety of Punjab, and various meat- and vegetable-based rice dishes have been developed using it.

What are the different styles associates in Punjabi cuisine?

There are many styles of cooking in Punjab. In the villages many people still employ the traditional infrastructure for cooking purposes. This includes wood-fired and masonry ovens. Modern methods include cooking on gas cookers. Tandoori style of cooking involves use of the tandoor.

In India, tandoori cooking is traditionally associated with Punjab as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level. This style of cooking became popular throughout India after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi. According to Planalp (1971), "the Panjab-style underground oven known as tandur is becoming increasingly popular in New Delhi" pointing to the Punjabi style of the tandoor. In rural Punjab, it is common to have communal tandoors, which are also called Kathtadoors in Punjabi.

What is Garam Masala?

Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices, originating from South Asia, common in Indian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Afghan cuisines. It is used alone or with other seasonings.

A typical Indian version of garam masala contains (with Hindi names in parenthesis):

  • Bay leaves (tej patta)

  • Black and white peppercorns (kali/safed mirch)

  • Cloves (laung)

  • Cinnamon or cassia bark (darchini)

  • Mace (outer covering of nutmeg) (javitri)

  • Black and green cardamom pods (elaichi)

  • Cumin (jeera)

  • Coriander (dhania)

  • Red chili powder (laal mirch)

What can I serve this dish with?

Rice is the best side dish for this particular recipe but you can also do some potatoes as well.

Let's make it!


  • 2 to 4 pounds of chicken breasts or thighs (with bone preferably and cut into small pieces)

  • 28 oz of crushed tomatoes

  • 2 large red onions (divided and chopped)

  • 1 small red onion for garnish (sliced finely)

  • 2 to 4 Thai peppers or Jalapeño peppers (seeded and chopped finely)

  • fresh cilantro (coriander)

  • 4 tablespoons of garlic paste

  • 2 tablespoons of ginger paste

  • 3 tablespoons of Garam Masala

  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric

  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 limes

  • 1 cup of water

  • vegetable oil

  • salt to taste


  1. Mix the following ingredients in a large zip loc bag or a non-reactive bowl: chicken, 1 large onion sliced finely, 2 tablespoons of ginger and garlic paste, 2 tablespoons of garam masala, 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, a generous amount of fresh chopped cilantro (coriander), and the juice of 2 limes. Incorporate well. Seal the bag or cover the bowl and let it rest in the refrigerator anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. The longer it rests, the deeper and better the flavors.

  2. Add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a cast iron pot or deep pan over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion and cook until translucent.

  3. Add the 2 tablespoons each of garlic and ginger paste, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, the rest of the curry powder, and crushed tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and add the chicken with all the contents it was marinated with, as well as the bay leaves, one or two Thai chilies or jalapeños, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

  5. Once the time has elapsed, remove from heat, serve, and garnish with the remaining Thai peppers (sliced), red onions, and cilantro (coriander).


Printable PDF Recipe File below:

Punjabi Chicken Curry
Download PDF • 13.58MB

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