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Martha's Chicken Curry


This great recipe for chicken curry is from "Martha Stewart's Cooking School."

  • Servings: 6

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January Winter 2009


For Garam Masala

  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

For Paste

  • 3 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped (3 1/2 cups)
  • 10 to 12 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 piece (4 ounces) fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

For Stew

  • 1 quart Basic Chicken Stock
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 6 fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 small dried red chiles, finely ground
  • Coarse salt
  • 10 chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut in half through the bone (or left whole)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

For Serving (Optional)


  1. Make garam masala: Gently toast the spices in a dry saute pan over medium heat until they are fragrant. Let cool slightly, then grind spice to a fine powder in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. You should have about 1/4 cup.

  2. Prepare paste: Puree the onions, garlic, and ginger in a blender until smooth. Set a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture is fragrant and starts to turn golden brown, and mustard seeds begin to pop, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in onion paste and cook until caramelized, about 45 minutes. During this time, you'll need to stir only occasionally in the beginning, but as the moisture evaporates you'll need to stir more and more frequently and, at the end, fairly constantly to keep it from turning too dark. Once the paste is ready, stir in the garam masala and tomato paste and continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes.

  3. Pour in the stock and deglaze pot, stirring vigorously to incorporate the paste mixture. Add turmeric, curry leaves, bay leaves, and ground chiles, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock has reduced slightly (and the flavors have melded), about 45 minutes. Add the chicken and potatoes. Submerging them in the liquid as much as possible. Simmer until the chicken is tender (but not falling off the bone) and cooked through (prick the meat to make sure the juices run clear) and the potatoes are tender (they should still hold their shape but offer little resistance when pricked with a sharp knife). This will take about 30 minutes more.

  4. Serve: Add the chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Garnish stew with cilantro sprigs, and serve with rice, yogurt, and lime wedges as desired.

Reviews Add a comment

  • letterwoman
    1 MAR, 2010
    The first time I made this, I didn't have black or brown mustard seeds, so I used yellow and it turned out very yummy. The second time I made this, I used brown mustard seeds and this dish tasted very bitter. Plus, the onion paste made a burned-on, blackened mess on the bottom of my new Dutch oven. I don't know if I'll try this recipe again, but if I do, I think I will use yellow mustard seeds. I don't know if the brown ones made it bitter the second time. I cooked it the same way both times.
  • MS11541513
    23 MAR, 2009
    The prep and a couple of ingredient changes, make this dish more authentic Indian, and better tasting. Take a can of tomatos reserving the liquid, crush them and add to the ginger paste. Add the remaining spices and thicken to a whet paste. Then add the chicken, cover the pieces with the spice mixture, and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add tomato juice, water and or chicken broth as desired and simmer until chicken is cooked.
  • otabenga
    20 FEB, 2009
    This dish should be cooked in stages over a couple of days to meld flavors. I sautn n ed the onions two days before adding the stock and cooking the chicken. In sautn n ing the onions if they began to stick, I just deglazed with water and paid more attention! I also used yellow mustard seeds and store bought garam masala which In n n ve now used up, so next time In n n ll prepare my own! In n n ve never cooked onions this way before and was pleased to learn such a wonderful new technique for such a delicious result!
  • Joolee
    16 FEB, 2009
    I believe it is the garlic that turns the onion paste green not the mustard seeds. I looked it up on the internet because I had the same problem. The stew tasted bitter because the garlic was cooked for too long on too high of heat. I need to turn my gas stove to low heat instead of medium heat to prevent this. I will definitely be trying this recipe again.
  • miclled
    15 FEB, 2009
    We tried this for our valentines meal last night. It was good, but not what we expected the curry to taste like. It was a lot of work for something that didn't taste amazing. I read the other posts about how the yellow mustard seeds made the onion paste green. That was what I was going to use since I also had that. Instead, I went out to get the black mustard seed and it also made the onion paste green. I also use a store bought garam marsala because I don't have a spice grinder.
  • Talliluna
    2 FEB, 2009
    When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it! Yes, a lot of ingredients but not too much trouble n n n n n n although a lot of time. Well worth it! I did as Kim77 suggested and used a food processor for the paste n n n n n n worked very well. Also, frankin's comment about using yellow mustard seeds. I made sure to use black and the paste still was green. One other note- skin the chicken thighs! The instructions didn't state so I didn't until halfway through because with skins it didn't look too appetizing.
  • frankin
    30 JAN, 2009
    After seeing this show, I decided that this was the perfect receipe for a cold winter's day! I did not have black or brown mustard seeds, so I used yellow instead. The yellow mustard seeds changed the color of the onion puree to green for some chemical reason. The puree never really browned, but once I added the spices, it was no longer noticeable. Next time, I will definitely have the correct mustard seeds! The flavor is the best, and definitely a "keeper".
  • Kim77
    29 JAN, 2009
    This is by far the best chicken curry I have ever tasted. Since I was watching the show while a snow storm was raging outside, I was glad to have all the ingredients on hand -- including the variety of spices (my newest interest is Ethiopian cooking). My only suggestion is to use a food processor to make the onion paste instead of a blender -- it was much easier. Don't be intimidated by all the ingredients. It is very simple to make and well worth the effort. It's delicious!