The best Indian chicken curry without coconut milk, cream or even tomatoes. This low-calorie curry is made with just 5 basic ingredients and cooked within 30 minutes. An easy healthy chicken gravy that even beginners can cook!
Why you’ll love this curry without coconut milk
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.
With just about 280 calories, this low-fat, low-calorie curry is so easy to cook and amazingly delicious. Tender juicy chicken pieces are simmered in velvety smooth gravy that has no coconut milk or cream as a thickener.
This recipe is the ultimate proof that you don’t need saturated fat to make curry taste good. Exactly like the healthy chicken kofta curry, baked palak kofta and mutton curry recipe. Or the moong sprouts curry. You’ll have to try it to believe!
Like chole masala and spinach dal, this beginner-friendly chicken curry can be done within 30 minutes (or less if pressure cooked) and needs just five simple ingredients for the gravy. How? Read on to find out!
We can never say no to easy chicken recipes for dinner with a few basic ingredients, can we? Like the baked chicken breasts and sheet pan lemon garlic chicken legs, this 5-ingredient chicken curry is yet another of my easy & healthy dinner recipes.
What’s more, it can be made ahead and frozen, which makes it a perfect curry for meal planning.
Is this chicken curry recipe actually made of only 5 ingredients?
I used to make this recipe 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!) like the pepper chicken masala or varutha kozhi curry.
I resort to adding coconut milk to thicken a curry, only if a recipe absolutely requires it, as in recipes like Mangalore fish curry, Thai green curry or 7-ingredient Kerala fish curry.
Since making it a couple of times, it has become my family’s favorite. Now I cook this low-calorie curry at least once a week and more importantly, 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 wants to add the salt, water and chicken, which make it eight.
Still not bad, right? This is almost like my jeera chicken recipe, which is a dry version (and with cumin flavor).
What are the mysterious 5 ingredients?
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
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 small shallots aka pearl onions, 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 pearl onions at home. That is, if you want to enjoy this chicken curry as often as I do.
This is a recipe that depends on the flavor of pearl onions like the Kerala chicken curry and parippu curry recipe, in which we use roasted onions for tempering the curry.
As for the other ingredients, I presume you will already have them 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. Ensure that you brown them well before you make the paste.
What is the best cut of chicken for the curry?
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. That being said, bone-in chicken will naturally have more flavor from the bones and also turn out softer.
If you want melt-in-your-mouth boneless chicken breasts, use the tenderizing method I mentioned in the sesame chicken stir-fry recipe. (Yes, it works for Indian recipes, too! I use it for chicken tikka and kabab recipes.)
How to make chicken curry without coconut milk- step by step
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
Heat oil in a pan. Stir in the shallots, dry red chilies, ginger, garlic, and cumin seeds.
Sauté 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 and chicken thighs.
After 5-10 minutes of stirring add 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 breasts, chop them into bite-sized pieces before cooking. The simmering time is 10 minutes.
For chicken drumsticks, the simmering time is 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.
Tips to make the best chicken curry
- Sauté the shallots/onions on medium heat until well browned. More browning equals more tasty curry (like the Kerala egg roast recipe).
- After blending the onions, sauté the paste again before adding chicken.
- If you have the time, sauté chicken for a good 10 minutes on medium heat before adding water.
- If you like your curry with a more brownish tint, add 2 additional teaspoons of oil while you sauté chicken.
- The curry tastes great as is. But you may add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala if you like more of “Indian curry” flavors. (It will no longer be a 5-ingredient curry, but this would take no extra effort from your side:)
Since this chicken curry has no dairy or coconut milk, it keeps well for about 4 days in the fridge and a month in the freezer.
Store in an airtight container. If freezing, thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
What to serve with chicken curry
Have this easy curry with naan or plain boiled rice and a side dish like mango chutney, microwave-fried okra or tandoori cauliflower. You get a healthy, delicious and wholesome meal in no time.
For a low-carb option, pair it with coconut cauliflower rice. And it’s a must-have recipe when trying to lose weight.
Common questions about chicken curry without coconut milk
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?
This 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 curry so it becomes flavorful.
Can I cook 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).
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! You would love how easy it is to make Thai chicken curry with the Thai green curry paste.
Are you in the mood for one-pan street noodles with chicken? Try this Singapore fried bee hoon!
If you like another quick healthy chicken recipe, lemon coriander chicken with yogurt sauce and lemon balsamic 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 and Indian spices? You might like these:
More curry recipes
Printable Curry Paste Recipe
Grab a printable copy of the curry paste that helps home cooks like you cook different curries in 30 minutes or less:
More chicken recipes
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Hi! I’m Sheeba, welcome to Go Healthy ever after!
I have a passion for cooking delicious nourishing food that’s easy to cook with fresh natural ingredients free from additives or preservatives. The easy healthy recipes you find here will inspire you to cook with creativity.
11 thoughts on “5 Ingredient Easy Chicken Curry without coconut milk”
Hi. I love your recipes! So thanks for sharing. Your
recipes generally say to blend a lot of dry Ingredients. My blender never seems to manage to do this unless I add lots of water. Can you recommend a blender that can do this? Not sure if you can legally do this. But thought I’d ask anyway. Tia
Hello Geraldine, thanks for stopping by! I use a food processor that has a small spice blender as one of the accessories. You can use a mortar and pestle, too to pound dry spices. If your blender is not powerful enough, you can use a couple of hacks: if your recipe uses onions, garlic or tomatoes (like curries), you can blend them with the spices. Or grind a large batch of spices and store for future use. (Sometimes the spices may be too less for the blender to work.) Hope these tips help 🙂
Hi Sheeba. Thank you for your reply about the blender. Very useful tips. x
Look like a curry soup.
Hi Ken, thanks for visiting! I don’t use any high-calorie thickeners in this curry recipe, so you feel that way. If you follow the exact instructions, the curry will turn out creamy and delicious 🙂
Can i prep the night before and marinate the chicken in the past?
Of course, you can! You can also prep and freeze. Thanks for pointing out. I will include that in the post😊
Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.
Thank you Hema, that means so much to me. I’m sure your friends will love it, too. Thanks for sharing!
it show that is so tasty
Glad you liked it! ?