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Bengali chicken curry
Light chicken curry with potatoes

1. 3 pounds (2.3 kgs) of skinless, bone-in chicken. While any part of chicken can be used, I find that whole chicken produces the best results. Cut chicken in small pieces, thighs, drum sticks, the spinal area, and the breast cut in four pieces. To reduce the preparation time, you may use skinless dark meat, with or without bones.
2. 2 pounds of potatoes, skin-on quartered. (see instructions for a dressier version)
3. 1/4 cup oil.
4. 1/4 medium onion cut in large pieces.
5. 1 inch ginger root skinned and minced.
6. 8 cloves of garlic (skinned and chopped) or 3 teaspoons of garlic paste.
7. 1 heaping tablespoon of salt. This much salt gives a moderate level of saltiness. After the dish is finished, taste it and add more salt if you wish.
8. 2 heaping tablespoons of cayenne chili powder, it will make the finished dish roughly equivalent to a medium-hot curry in a restaurant (you may want to adjust the heat to your taste). If you want the curry mild, I suggest you use Paprika powder, which will give you the nice reddish color with much less heat.
9. 1 heaping tablespoon of turmeric powder
10. 1 stick of cinnamon
11. 8-10 cardamom pods
12. 8-10 cloves.



I grew up in a middle class family in Assam,India in the 50's and 60's. My mother was the principal of a girls' school. But she paid a great deal of attention to the family's nutrition.

This is one of her recipes. In my childhood meat and oil were luxuries. So my mother extended the meat by adding potatoes. She used the minimum amount of oil and made her sauce with water. You can probably double the potato and cut the oil in half and still have a nice chicken curry.

A typical meal of my childhood would be:

• Rice
• Spinach
• Lentils
• Fried potatoes, and
• Chicken curry.

The recipe:

This is a quick recipe that does not require too much attention. Except for the critical periods of reducing the moisture, the meal cooks itself. Including the time to prepare the meat it takes me 1hr. and 15 minutes. However, I am attending to the cooking for about half hour of that time including 15 minutes of preparation time.

I have added exact quantities and cooking times for the novice cook in the West. All the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket.

However, there are always some variations in ingredients, especially in the amount of moisture in the chicken. This will cause variations in cooking time.

So I have provided indications of when various phases of cooking are done. When I say moisture is absorbed, it means steam stops rising. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If you are not sure how to judge it, dry the lid with a paper towel and cover for 10 seconds. If there is moisture, you will see water drops on the lid. That means it needs a little more time.

Please note that you should not uncover the pan more than absolutely necessary. This helps to retain the flavor.

Serving suggestion:

This dish goes well with either rice or tortilla. If you can find Basmati, or other long-grain rice use it. Tortillas can be served warm. You can also pan-fry the tortillas in a small amount of butter until they are browned. You can serve pickle on the side, if you wish.

Servings per pot:

• If you are serving it as part of a typical Indian meal, it will serve eight people.
• If this is the main dish, it would serve four.


1. A flat bottom pan with a lid. The pan should be large enough to lay out the chicken pieces one deep with about a quarter of the pan left over. This would help you to turn the chicken much easier.
2. One kettle to boil about 8 cups of water in.

Preparation: For the plain (and my preferred) version do not fry the potatoes.

• (For a dressier version, peel the potatoes. Lightly cover them with salt, turmeric and chili powder. Fry them in oil until they are browned. Set aside.)
• Mix chili powder and turmeric powder in a cup with just enough water to make a paste.
• Put the oil in the pan and heat.
• When the oil is heated add onion, ginger, garlic, and salt.
• Stir until onion is beginning to turn brown.
• Add the chili and turmeric paste. Fry until the moisture is absorbed.
• Add the chicken, turn down the heat.
• Stir until the spices coat the chicken.
• Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Open the cover, by this time the chicken would release enough moisture.
• Start boiling the water, in the kettle on another burner.
• Cook uncovered, stirring frequently until all the moisture is absorbed. It should take about 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently, so it does not burn.
• Add the boiling water to cover the chicken.
• Add the potatoes. Add more boiling water to cover the potatoes.
• Bring the curry to a boil again.
• Turn the heat down and cover.
• Let it cook for 20 minutes (if you have already fried the potatoes, reduce cooking time to 10 minutes) or until the potatoes are boiled to your taste. I like mine to be soft.
• Uncover the pot and add cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
• Cover the pot and turn the heat off.
• Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Preparation Time: 75 minutes Serves: 4
Recipe Origin: India
Submitted by:
Dev Purkayastha
United States
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