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Chicken with Aromatic Spices

Anjula Devi, chef & author of Spice of Life
Serves: 4
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This recipe works well for everyone. It’s got great aromatic flavours with a little warmth.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 75 minutes
Needs to marinate overnight


  • 350g chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into bite size pieces
  • 350g chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into bite size pieces
  • For the Marinade
  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pulped garlic
  • 1 tsp pulped ginger
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • Key Spices
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 inch piece of cassia bark
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Warming Spices
  • 1 tsp fenugreek leaves, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
  • 4 green cardamoms, lightly bashed
  • 2 cloves
  • Other Spices
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds
  • 4 whole dry Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 tsp mango powder
  • Wet Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp jaggery, grated
  • 1 tsp pulped garlic
  • 1 tsp pulped ginger
  • 2-4 fresh finger green chillies, pierced (add less for a milder curry)
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 140ml water (more if you prefer your sauce to be not as thick)
  • 2 tsp tamarind pulp
  • Garnish
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Zest 1 lemon


  1. Place the chicken thighs and breasts in a large bowl, add the marinade ingredients, stir and coat well. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge overnight

  2. Remove from the fridge, set aside, and allow the chicken to come to room temperature
  3. Take a small dry frying pan, set on a low heat, and warm through the cumin, coriander seeds and mustard seeds for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add to the pestle and mortar and grind coarsely
  4. Take a large sauté pan, add the oil and warm on a low heat. Then add the onions, cassia bark and bay leaf. Sauté for 5 minutes
  5. Add the turmeric and red chilli flakes, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes

  6. Add the tomatoes and jaggery and sauté for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cooking these ingredients for a little longer will definitely make your curry taste better

  7. Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies, and continue to cook for 2 minutes
  8. Add the contents of the pestle and mortar, stir well, and continue to fry until you see that the mixture resembles a paste, and the oil starts to separate from the onions and tomatoes
  9. If the ingredients start to become a little dry or the spices start to burn, simply add a little water
  10. Add the marinated chicken and fresh curry leaves (rip these into smaller pieces). Turn the heat up to medium, stir really well, and allow the chicken to seal for at least 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  11. Add the water and bring to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer
  12. Add the soaked fenugreek leaves, green cardamoms, cloves and tamarind pulp, and place the lid on the pan. Cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender, and the sauce is thick
  13. Remove from the heat, and stir in the fresh coriander and lemon zest. Leave for 5 minutes before serving with chapattis
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