5 Ingredient Easy Indian Chicken Curry recipe

The best recipe for chicken curry with just 5 basic whole food ingredients, without coconut, curry powder or cream. Healthy, tasty velvetty smooth chicken curry (from scratch!)

closeup view of 5 ingredient easy chicken curry in a stainless steel bowl

We can never say no to easy chicken recipes for dinner with a few basic ingredients, can we? Tender juicy chicken pieces simmered in a velvety smooth curry, this healthy chicken curry is so easy to cook and amazingly delicious. You’ll have to try it to believe!

Does the thought of cooking up a curry intimidate you? Or do you think you can get delicious curries only at Indian or Thai restaurants? Then this recipe is for you.

This incredibly easy chicken curry can be done within 30 minutes (or less if pressure cooked), it is healthy (no coconut cream or any other cream) and needs just five ingredients for the gravy. What more, this curry can be made ahead and frozen, which makes it a perfect curry for meal prep.

5 ingredient easy chicken curry in a stainless steel bowl

Is this chicken curry recipe actually made of only 5 ingredients?

I used to make this chicken curry when I had to cook up a quick curry or when I don’t have enough stock of ingredients to make something else (just to prove myself that I’m resourceful!) Since making this curry a couple of times, it has become my family’s favorite. Now I cook it at least once a week and we never get bored of it.

This is a genuine 5 ingredient chicken recipe made from scratch with no hidden ingredients unless the critic in you want to add the salt, water and chicken, which make it eight. Still not bad, right? Have this chicken curry with naan or plain boiled rice and some roasted veggies, you get a healthy, delicious, satisfying and wholesome meal in no time. And it’s a must-have recipe when trying to lose weight.

You can serve this chicken curry with pulao, too. Here, I’ve paired the chicken curry with peas pulao that makes a meal in itself for a quick weeknight dinner.

5 ingredient easy chicken curry served with peas pulao and 5 ingredient easy chicken curry in a stainless steel bowl
easy chicken curry served with peas pulao

What are the mysterious 5 ingredients?

Shallots, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds and chilies. Incredible, isn’t it? You have to cook the curry and eat it for you to believe that it is actually possible to make a chicken curry with these simple pantry ingredients.

The secret to this recipe is using shallots, a lot of it, like 1 cup for a bowl of curry that serves 2 to 3. So the only thing you need to ensure is that you always have a lot of shallots at home if you want to enjoy this chicken curry as often as I do. As for the other ingredients, I presume you will already have in your pantry if you love cooking Indian food, especially curries.

can I substitute onions for shallots?

If you don’t have shallots, feel free to use the same quantity of diced onions. The reason I use shallots is that they have a slightly milder flavor. Since you are using lots of it in this recipe, it makes sense to go for the milder version. If you’re using onions, use 1 teaspoon more oil and ensure that you brown them well before you make the paste.

what is the best cut of chicken for the curry recipe?

I’ve used chicken thighs here, it is just a personal preference. You can use any cut of chicken for this chicken curry recipe. The cooking time will vary accordingly, which I’ll explain in a minute.

How to cook chicken curry

Heat oil in a pan and stir in the shallots, dry red chilies, ginger, garlic, and cumin seeds. Saute on medium heat until the shallots turn brown. Remove from heat, cool the mixture and blend into a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and stir in the blended paste, the chicken pieces with one and a half cups of water and salt. Keep covered and bring it to a boil. Simmer on a medium flame for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces) until the chicken is cooked. You will know that the chicken is cooked when the flesh almost starts falling apart.

If using boneless chicken breast, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Simmering time is 10 minutes.

For chicken drumsticks, the simmering time is 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size if the pieces.

5 ingredient easy chicken curry served with peas pulao

can I cook the chicken curry in a pressure cooker?

This chicken curry can be cooked faster in a pressure cooker. After adding the chicken and water, transfer the contents to the pressure cooker, wait for it to reach high pressure, then simmer for just 5 minutes. Let it stand until the pressure is released. In this case, the quantity of water used should be lesser (1 cup for this recipe).

can chicken curry be frozen?

Since this chicken curry does not use cream or coconut, it lasts in the fridge for 3 days or may be more (I haven’t tried more than that) and for weeks upto a month in the freezer! Now that you’re familiar with the 5-ingredient easy chicken curry, don’t let the thought of cooking up a curry intimidate you again!

If you like another quick healthy chicken recipe, lemon mustard chicken is for you. Or if you want an elaborate chicken curry recipe for the weekend, go for chicken meatball curry.

Looking for more easy healthy recipes with chicken? You might like these juicy oven baked chicken breasts, oven baked tandoori chicken or easy baked chicken legs.

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closeup view of 5 ingredient easy chicken curry in a stainless steel bowl

5-Ingredient Easy Chicken Curry recipe

The best recipe for chicken curry with just 5 basic ingredients that can be cooked in 30 minutes. Try it to believe it! Simple, healthy, tasty chicken curry (from scratch)!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course curry, dinner, LUNCH, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 3
Calories 281 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams Chicken thighs or drumsticks or breasts (see notes)
  • 1 cup shallots peeled and halved (see notes)
  • 3 dry red chilies halved (can be reduced if you want it less spicy)
  • 2 tsp ginger peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and stir the shallots, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds and chilies on medium heat until the shallots are browned.
    Cool the mixture and blend into a smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and stir in the blended paste and saute for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces with one and a half cups of water and salt.
  • Keep covered and bring it to a boil. Simmer on a medium flame for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. (see notes). You will know the chicken is cooked when the flesh almost falls apart!
  • Serve with naan, bread or rice with a side of salad or roasted vegetables.

Video

Notes

  1. Cooking the chicken curry in the pressure cooker: This chicken curry can be cooked faster (total time: 20 minutes) in a pressure cooker. After adding the chicken and water, transfer the contents to the pressure cooker, wait for it to reach high pressure, then simmer for just 5 minutes. For bite-sized breast pieces, turn off the heat once high pressure is reached. If using drumsticks, simmer for 10 minutes. (15 minutes if using large ones).
  2. Let it stand until the pressure is released. In this case, the quantity of water used should be lesser (1 cup for this recipe).
Substitutions:
  1. Onions can be substituted for shallots (same quantity). In that case, use 1 teaspoon more oil and saute the onions until they are well browned.
  2. If using breasts, chop them into bite-sized pieces. The simmering time is 10 minutes.
  3. If using drumsticks, simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
  4. Dry red chilies can be replaced with 1 teaspoon of chili flakes or 3/4 teaspoon of chili powder.
5 Ingredient Easy Indian Chicken Curry recipe
Keyword Chicken curry, easy chicken curry, easy chicken recipes for dinner, easy healthy chicken recipes, Indian chicken curry recipe

FAQ

IS chicken curry healthy?

This chicken curry is healthy since it does not use added saturated fat like butter or cream or any thickening agents like coconut cream. Using chicken breasts will further cut down on the fat.

What goes with curry other than rice

Chicken curry goes amazingly well with naan, roti or just plain toasted bread (use wholemeal if you want a healthier option.)

How do I make chicken curry taste better?

Shallots or onions that are sauteed twice (once before blending and again after) is the secret to making this tastiest curry. The more you brown the onions, the better.
This little curry “hack” can be used for any curry. If you want to thicken up a curry, saute a couple of onions in oil until browned, cool and blend. Saute the onion paste again in a little oil and add to your curry with added salt and pepper. Simmer until thick. This is the best and healthiest way to thicken curries.

Do you cook the chicken before putting it in curry?

Cooked chicken does not absorb the flavors well. So for this recipe, you simmer the chicken with the onion paste so it becomes flavorful.

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