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Meat and poultry dishes became popular with the affluent society during Moslem rule and later on during the British Raj when dishes like tikka were created. Military invasion and India's trade routes have left a marked foreign influence on meat and poultry cooking - Portuguese vindaloo, and Persian and Greek kebabs and pilafs (pulaos) are examples. In northern India, which covers Punjab, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, meat and poultry  are widely eaten and from these areas all the tandoori and moghlai dishes originate.

The methods of cooking meat in the south produce different flavors and use local produce, such as coconut, tamarind and curry leaves. Dishes from the south are hotter and more spicy than those from the north. The Bengali (Bangladesh included) method of cooking is extremely testy and is in a class of its own. The dishes are prepared with meticulous precision and great care.

Curries involve long, slow simmering to extract the juices from the meat.

Older chickens have more flavor and these can be used in dishes requiring long slow cooking, which will tenderize the flesh. Quicker cooking sidhes cal for youn ones that are more tender.

Overcooking chicken ruins it -it gets dehydrated, tough and stringy

chicken curry

CHICKEN CURRY        (serves 4)

3 Ib (1.4kg) chicken, cut into pieces

1 onion finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

2 tbsp finely grated ginger

4 cloves

4-6 cardamom seeds

½ tsp grated cinnamon stick

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika powder

½ tsp fennel seeds

1-2 bay leaves

1 cup yogurt

2 tomatoes

salt to taste

4 tbsp oil

1-1½ cup water

3 tbsp grated coriander to garnish

  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry until light brown.

  • Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander powder, cardamom, chili powder, paprika powder, fennel seeds, cloves, turmeric. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the oil runs free from the spice mixture.

  • Add the chicken, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

  • Add chopped tomato. Cook next 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

  • Add yogurt. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

  • Add water or reduce the sauce, if necessary,

  • Cook gently for 5 -10 minutes.

  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

  • Serve as a main dish with rice or bread.

WHITE CHICKEN KORMA        (serves 5-6)

2 lb (1 kg) chicken breast (skinned)

1½ tsp poppy seeds

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup whole yoghurt

1/4 cup blanched almonds

1/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts

1 bay leaf

3 medium onions, finely chopped

3 green chilies, chopped

5 - 6 green cardamoms

4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

2 tsp ginger (finely chopped)

3 cloves

pinch of turmeric powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

1/4 tsp mace powder

salt to taste

4 tbsp oil

  • Soak the poppy seeds in ½ cup water for 1 hour. Then drain off the water and grind into a fine paste with a pestle and mortar.

  • Drain off the whey from yoghurt. Then whisk.

  • Heat most of the butter in a cooking pot, add the almonds, cashews and bay leaf and fry for about 7 minutes over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for few minutes until lightly colored.

  • Add the chopped chilies, cardamoms and ground poppy seeds and fry for about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and leave to cool. Put the mixture into a blender and puree to a smooth paste.

  • Add 1 tbsp of butter to the cooking pot, then add the garlic, ginger and cloves. After 1 minute add the chicken pieces. The chicken will gradually release its juices then cook until the meat is almost dry.

  • Then lover the fire, add the yoghurt and stir to prevent it from curling.

  • Add the ground spice mixture with the nutmeg and mace powder, turmeric, and salt to taste. Stir well, add 1½ cups of hot water. Taste the mixture. If you find it bland you can add additional whole green chilies.

  • Cook over a low heat for about 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.


1½ lb boneless chicken chunks, skin removed

1 lemon, juice only

½ tsp red chili powder

For the marination:

1 tsp cumin powder

3 tbsp garlic-ginger paste

1 cup yogurt

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp salt

For the sauce:

3 tsp tomato puree

1 onion

½ cup cream or yogurt

1 tbs coriander powder

1tbs ginger garlic paste

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ cup butter

  • For marinating the chicken:

  • Make few cut across each chicken chunk with a knife. This helps the ingredients seep into the meat.

  • Mix the lemon juice and red chili powder and spoon over the chicken.

  • Add to the yogurt garam masala, ginger-garlic paste, coriander, cumin, salt.

  • Pour this marinade over the chicken. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours (ideally for 24 hours).

  • Bake the chicken at 350 F for 30 minutes.

  • The sauce:

  • Cook the tomato puree and onion in butter till the onion is brown.

  • Add the ginger-garlic paste, cumin, sugar, lemon juice and coriander powder to the sauce.

  • Cook the sauce for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the chicken chunks and cream to the sauce and cook for 7-10 minutes.

  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

  • Serve as a main dish with rice or bread.

BUTTER CHICKEN     (serves 4)


2 lb (1 kg) chicken  (skinned quarters, smaller pieces on the bone) or boneless pieces

5-6 tbsp oil

For the marinade

2 cups whole yoghurt

6 garlic cloves

1.2 in (1 cm) square of fresh ginger

1 tsp red chili powder

¼ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp cumin powder

½ tsp garam masala

a tiny pinch of tandoori coloring (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 tsp lime juice

For the makhani sauce

1.3 lb tomatoes

½ tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

½ cup of butter

½ tsp red chili powder

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

¼ tsp garam masala powder

salt to taste

11/2 oz (40 g) heavy cream

  • For the marinade

  • Let the whey from yoghurt drip away.

  • Add garlic ginger paste, all marinade spices, salt and lime juice to the yoghurt and mix well.

  • Scald the tomatoes for the makhani sauce and peel off the skin. Reduce to a semi pulp with a fork. Put the kasuri methi into grinder and reduce to a powder. You will have to grind a larger quantity but use only ½ tsp.

  • Make gashes in the chicken if using pieces on the bone. Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt mixture for at least 1 -2 hour (prferably leave overnight.

  • When ready to cook, heat the oil in a large, thick - bottomed skillet and put in the chicken with the marinade. Cover and cook over a low heat until done. Turn the chicken over during cooking.

  • Put the tomato pulp into a frying pan and cook for 5 minutes or so until the liquid has evaporated slightly.

  • Add the chilled butter and chili powder, ginger and garlic putee, after the butter has melted, let it cook for just 1 minute. Add the kasuri methi and garam masala powder, and salt to taste. Afer 30 second add the cream and stir. The sauce is ready. Pour into the skillet and mix well with the chicken. Serve immediately.

If butter is cooked for longer than 3 min. it will begin to turn into a grainy emulsion, so cook for less than 2 min. after the butter has melted.

Photo: Marzena Saigal


(in India, tandoori chicken is cooked in a tandoor (clay) oven, alternatively it can be cooked under a preheated hot broiler)


8 chicken drumstick, skinned

1 cup yogurt

2 tsp thinly chopped fresh ginger

2 tsp crushed fresh garlic

1 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp coriander powder

salt to taste

½ tsp red food coloring

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

lettuce leaves

To garnish:

onion rings, tomatoes, lemon wedges

  • Using a sharp knife, make 2-3 slashes in each piece of chicken.

  • Place the yogurt in a large bowl. Add the ginger, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander powder, salt and red food coloring and blend together until well mixed.

  • Add the chicken to the yogurt - spice mixture and mix to coat well.

  • Cover and let the chicken marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours.

  • Mix the tamarind paste with the water in a separate bowl and fold into the mixture.

  • Toss the chicken pieces in the mixture again, cover and let marinate for additional 3 hours.

  • Preheat the broiler to the medium.

  • Transfer the chicken pieces to a heatproof dish and brush with vegetable oil

  • Cook under the preheated broiler for 30-35 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally and basting with any remaining oil, until the meat is tender and cooked through.

  • Arrange the chicken on a bed of lettuce, garnish with onion rings, sliced tomatoes and lemon wedges and serve with naan.

This blend features an exotic mix of paprika, cumin, cayenne, coriander and other spices. Blend Punjabi Tandoori Masala with yogurt to create a marinade for chicken, fish or lamb. Tandoori blend also makes an excellent dry marinade for meats that are to be pan-fried, grilled, roasted or barbecued.

CHICKEN CHETTINAD      (serves 4 - 5)

2 lb (1 kg) chicken, cut as prefered

½ fresh coconut

1½ tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

5 green cardamoms

3 cloves

½ star anise

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

3/4 tsp garam masala

1 large onion (finely chopped)

2 tsp ginger (finely chopped)

4 tsp garlic (finely chopped)

2 tsp red chili powder

3 medium topatoes, chopped

4 curry leaves

juice of ½ lime

salt to taste

1/3 cup coriander leaves, chopped

  • On the griddle toast the poppy seeds for a few minutesuntil light brown. Crush with a rolling pin, then soak in a little water for 15 minutes.

  • Grind the coconut together with the poppy and fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and turmeric to make a fine paste.

  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry until lightly colored

  • Add the ginger and garlic, then  2 minutes later add the star anise and red chili powder, followed by the spice paste. Saute for 5 minutes.

  • Add the chicken pieces and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes. When chicken has absorbed the tomato juice, add 2 cups water and salt and mix well. Cook uncovered until the chicken is tender.

  • When almost done add the lime juice and curry leaves. Just before serving sprinkle with the coriander leaves.


   The chicken is always cut in small pieces ont the bone - about 12 pieces from a chicken. This is ideal dish to make using chicken drumsticks. Since is dryish, the dish can be eaten with a flavoured rice like lemon or tomato rice.

CHICKEN  WITH  SPINACH       (serves 4)

8 oz/225 g fresh spinach leaves

8 skinless chicken thighs pieces

1 onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

1 green chili

4 tbsp water

4 cloves

4-6 cardamom seeds

½ tsp grated cinnamon stick

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika powder

8 black peppercorns

½ cup chicken stock or water

1 tbsp curry paste

1-2 bay leaves

4 tbsp yogurt plus extra to garnish

1 cup canned tomatoes, drained

salt to taste

4 tbsp oil

  • Clean the spinach and place the spinach in a large pan with just a little water, cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until wilted.

  • Transfer to a food processor or blender and add the green chili, ginger, garlic and water. Process until smooth.

  • Heat the oil in the pan. Add the peppercorns and bay leaf and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.

  • Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes or until gold.

  • Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the chili powder, curry paste and salt to taste.

  • Stir in the spinach leaves and chili puree with the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Add the yogurt, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring well after, for and additional 5 minutes.

  • Finally, add the chicken and stir well, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender and coked through.

  • Serve immediately garnished with extra yogurt.

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