Indian spice box chicken

Indian spice box chicken

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(61 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins - 30 mins Cook: 1 hr - 1 hr, 10 mins


Serves 4
Serve this exquisitely flavoured chicken dish with mounds of fluffy rice

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal706
  • fat53g
  • saturates17g
  • carbs8g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre1g
  • protein50g
  • salt0.67g
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  • 50g fat green mild chilli (about 3 large ones)



    Part of the capsicum family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green…

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 5cm piece of fresh root ginger
  • a bunch of fresh coriander
  • 200g carton of full-fat Greek yogurt



    Yogurt is made by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment.…

  • 2 medium onions



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 8 medium bone-in chicken thighs (total weight about 800g-1kg/1lb 12oz-2lb 4oz)
  • 2 tbsp groundnut or corn oil
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
    Fennel seeds

    Fennel seeds

    feh-nell seeds

    A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds



    An aromatic spice native to eastern Mediteranean countries and Upper Egypt. This warm,…

  • a good knob of butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • Chilli-ginger garnish, to serve (see below)


  1. Make the Chilli-ginger garnish (see right), before you start the chicken.

  2. Cut down the length of the green chillies, then remove the seeds by scraping them out with a teaspoon. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this job - fiery seeds can give the fingers a real chilli sting. Cut off the stalk ends, chop the chillies into rough pieces and put them in a blender or food processor. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and add to the chillies. Do the same with the ginger.

  3. Pick the leaves off the coriander and drop them into the blender as you go (reserve the stems for the garnish). Tip in the yogurt and blitz everything to a puree. This can take a few minutes and you may have to stop the blender a few times to scrape all the gunge down from the sides - a rubber spatula will make this job much easier.

  4. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions. Pull the skin off the chicken, using kitchen paper to help you get a good grip. Heat the oil in a saute pan over a medium heat until hot - when you drop in a spice seed or two it should sizzle. Toss in the fennel and cumin seeds and let them crackle and pop for 10-20 seconds, stirring all the time so they don't burn. They're ready when you get a lovely whiff of warm nuts. If the oil starts to smoke, remove pan from the heat.

  5. Plop in the butter and let it melt, then throw in the sliced onions and turn the heat down a tad. Stir to mix the onions and spice seeds, then cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are meltingly soft and tinged golden brown. Give them a vigorous stir now and then, but don't stir them too often or they won't take on any colour.

  6. Push the onions to one side of the pan, then add the chicken thighs, smooth side down. Increase the heat to between medium and high and fry the chicken until it's golden brown on both sides. This should take about 15-20 minutes and you will need to turn the pieces over halfway (a pair of tongs are good for this). Watch carefully in case the onions start to brown too much - if they do, pile them up on top of the chicken.

  7. Stir in some of the yogurt mixture and cook until it disappears - repeat a dollop at a time. Whizz 150ml/¼ pint cold water in the blender to use the last bits of the mixture and add to the pan with a pinch of salt. Stir until bubbling, scraping up any crispy bits. Reduce the heat to its lowest and cover the pan tightly. Simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is tender when pierced, stirring and turning halfway and adding a splash of hot water if the sauce is too dry. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped coriander stems and a little chilli garnish (put the rest in a bowl on the table).

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Comments, questions and tips

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4th Dec, 2019
This was delicious. It just wasn't hot-spicy enough fo me so next time I think I will leave in the chilli seeds.
1st Apr, 2015
One of the best recipes on this site, and I've tried lots of them! Goes perfectly with this sag aloo
27th May, 2014
Great recipe. Will be making again for sure. I was reluctant to brown the meat too much but this definitely adds to the flavour. Works with chicken drumsticks too!
10th Apr, 2014
i thoroughly enjoyed this dish very tasty ,the meat stayed nice and tender ! after i sealed and browned the chicken of tho i transferred everything into a casserole dish and put in the oven for 40 minutes ,next time im going to do it with fat free greek yoghurt to be healthy (you have to try ) :) and also make the yoghurt the night before to infuse the flavours and save time as alot goes into preparing this dish :)
15th Jul, 2017
What temp did you cook at in the oven? I'm just making mine ahead of time, and want to cook it in oven, then reheat later in the oven too
18th Feb, 2014
Lovely flavours but my sauce split and was very oily, does anyone have a solution please
18th Feb, 2014
Lovely flavours, but my sauce split and was very oily, does anyone have a solution please?
20th May, 2013
Lovely! Really fresh favours, a nice change from tomato based Indian recipes
13th May, 2013
Very tasty, quite different to other curries I've made. It does take quite a while for the yoghurt mix to blend in so that's maybe why the other user thought it looked a bit green, i thought the same but once it has reduced down it looks fine but it does take some time. Wasn't sure about the raw chilli/ginger mix but it does enhance the flavour. Will definitely make it again.
10th Apr, 2013
Fab dish!


4th Jun, 2019
If you make it the night before what is the best way to reheat it?
goodfoodteam's picture
5th Jun, 2019
Thanks for your question. Either reheat gently until piping hot on the hob with the lid on (adding a splash of hot water if necessary) or microwave.
27th Oct, 2014
I can't get hold of any fresh coriander where I am and don't have a blender. Do you think the recipe would still work without?
18th Feb, 2014
My sauce split and was very oily, does anyone have a solution please
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Feb, 2014
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear the sauce wasn't quite right. It sounds like you may have used low fat yogurt, full fat shouldn’t split when cooked. Try using a little less oil next time too. 
18th Feb, 2014
My sauce split and was very oily, has anyone else had this problem, and anyone got a solution please
4th Dec, 2013
I added a teaspoon of garam masala and a little turmeric to the yogurt mix, for extra flavour, delicious!
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