Nov 4, 2016

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

From the beautiful vale of Kashmir comes this recipe for a brilliant red chicken curry. The warmth of traditional aromatic spices and crimson Kashmiri chilis are melded in a velvety yogurt based sauce. Crisply seared chicken is then simmered until meltingly tender in this richly aromatic sauce. The Kashmiris enjoy this dish garnished with dried mint or perhaps sultanas and cashews stirred in on special occasions.

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

This is our everyday chicken curry recipe. No, it not sweet, nor does it have any sugar in it, or coconut, or pineapple, or dried apricots like most of the abominations called Kashmiri chicken you'll find in restaurants. As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted oil and set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a crispy salt crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. The flavor is more aromatic than spicy hot with a bit of a tang from the yogurt. If you want to make it really fancy you can toss a handful of cashews or sultanas in about ten minutes before serving.

1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly into half moons
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
7 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
2 C water or stock
2 TBS sultanas (optional)
2 TBS cashews (optional)
1 TBS dried mint/pudina (optional for garnish)
Mix until smooth for sauce-
1 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for gravy until smooth and set aside. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil or ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.

2) In same pan fry sliced onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, green cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

3) Add finely diced tomatoes and fry for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried tomato and onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.

4) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. (If using sultanas or cashews stir them in after the chicken has simmered for about ten minutes.) Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.

Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before frying rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

An illustration of market boats on Nallah Mar canal in Srinagar from Francis Younghusband's 1917 book Kashmir.


  1. The chicken looks delicious. What is more delightful than hot soupy chicken with rice on a winter day. The silver tray in the second pic is very beautiful. Its luster in contrast to the bright spices makes for a visual delight.

    Is it the Dal Lake in the last pic? It looks so pristine unlike today.


    1. Hi Apple, Thank you! You Bengalis like your curries soupy just like the Kashmiris to mix with the rice.
      The silver tray is part of the Kashmiri set of serving pieces my husband and I bought when we were first married. The dish the chicken is in is part of the set too.

      The last pic is one of the brick lined canals that used to wind through old Srinagar. The pic is from 1917. Those canals were filled in an built over in the 70's. This has caused some serious drainage and flooding problems.

    2. It is true, don't we just love soupy curries. In a Bengali household, if you have not served fish to the guest or at best meat, you are not a good host.

      Talking about Bengali food, I know I have suggested this earlier, but could you do a post on a Bengali dish? just a humble request. I think you have done a mutton dish called Rezala, if I recall.

      May be a simple fish curry dish/simple vegetarian like potatoes with poppy seed paste. Anything which you can make in a jiffy. No offense meant, since it is your blog, I don't know whether it is appropriate to make such a request.


    3. Apple,
      Yes, I'm working on a kosha mangsho recipe for the blog. The mutton here hasn't been too nice lately though. I think my Kashmiri clan will like a Bengali mutton stew because it's similar in flavor & consistency to Kashmiri dishes. (I shan't put any sugar in it as the Kashmiris can't handle anything sweet & savory though).

      Guess what? The president of India flew over my home (in a helicopter ) and perused the 5 star hotel about 300 yards from my house. Our entire town was under security lockdown due to his visit- all roads were blocked.

    4. I think u could also try one of the many bengali sweets too .


  2. A "crispy salt crust" sounds delicious, thought I, but if the chicken dries out...and then you provided a briney solution to that challenge! Thank you, Bibi, for sharing your household standard recipe.

    1. Hi Beth,
      Thank you!
      Kashmiris fry a lot of things in slated oil to get that salty, crispy crust- paneer, cauliflower, and fish get this treatment too.

  3. That sounds like a positively gorgeous dish-can't see being tempted to add coconut or apricots (I get why people do it, but...blech).

    I can attest the technique of frying in salted oil worked wonders on our okra this summer, so now I'm thinking of all the other things I can fry that way.

    1. Hi Goody,
      For some reason non Kashmiri restaurants (mostly owned by Bangladeshis) have this idea that Kashmiri food is sweet & sour. It's not, Kashmiri food is by and large savory & tangy except for a few dishes.
      Yes, okra benefits from frying in salted oil too!

  4. Interesting that Kashmiris will add sultanas to their curries - Victorian Brits did that, and I'd always assumed it was a bizarre custom they'd come up with by themselves. Though they put the things in any curry.

    1. Hi Mim,
      Apparently the Mughals would put sultanas in their savory dishes as well as nuts. This was part of the Persian influence. Around the time of the Mughals many cultures were mixing savory and sweet ingredients in sort of 'one pot wonders.'


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