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


  • 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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7th Jul, 2011
just so good. didn't use 3 chillies tho as thought it would possibly be a tad too hot for me. Used 2 instead and it was perfect. Normally I use pataks pastes in my curries so was a bit dubious as to whether this was going to be very tasty, but the flavour was just wonderful. did not waste my time picking off the coriander leaves one by one and just lobbed a whole load in at once. very yummy and will be doing again and again.
20th Jun, 2011
I didn't like this when I first made it, but the next day I ate the left overs and obviously the spices had time to infuse and it was lovely. So would recommend making a day ahead!
16th Apr, 2011
Excellent recipe loved the flavours
shubeedoo's picture
3rd Apr, 2011
This went down so well that I have made it twice in the past week! So easy to make and the flavours are beautiful - the coriander comes through really well and the chillies give a delicate hint of heat. Perfect - this will definately become a regular!
29th Sep, 2010
very fragrant. I didn't do the garnish but will do next time. A big hit with friends who don't like their curries too hot. well definitely make again
24th Sep, 2010
Unusual for me but I made this exactly as the recipe said! I made it the day before and left it to mature. I noticed that the flavour mellowed over night which for my target audience was fine. I made the relish and felt it was an excellent addition to the dish. I will definitely make this again
9th May, 2010
Will make this again and again. Halved the quantities for two of us, so found the blender bit didn't work as it just threw the pieces to the outside - resorted to using a pestle and mortar to make the puree.
7th Apr, 2010
Not bad at all - my husband loved it - but don't try it if you dislike aniseed / licorice flavours - the fennel seeds are strong!!
22nd Oct, 2009
Takes a while to make but is well worth the effort. Be careful not to let the sauce all simmer away though.
23rd Sep, 2009
I made this curry for a dinner party and found it very easy to make, it tasted delicious but I did not use enough chillies and spices, think I need to play around with the quantities but I will be adding this to one of my regular recipes. Worth a try.


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