| my dad chicken curry

June 2, 2009

This is an old family recipe, one that was brought back from India by a friend in the late 70s before I was born. I make no claims to the recipe’s authenticity – it has had a long journey over oceans and time – but I do make claims to its deliciousness. And for some reason it’s become known to my friends as My Dad Chicken Curry, perhaps because it’s one the few recipes my dad loves and always made for my friends and I when we’d come and stay and go swimming and surfing for the weekend.

After a long drive in Friday afternoon traffic in my brother’s white 1970 Holden Kingswood, windows down, the air heavy with petrol fumes and asphalt heat, we’d arrive at my dad’s to a late afternoon swim and this curry bubbling on the stove top. The house smelling of the popped mustard seeds and spices. The spices have a summery vibe for me. The curry is perfect with a beer on an afternoon that seems to stretch on forever, but in winter they’re rich and warming.

I think the secret to this recipe, which is really very simple, is the mustard seeds. They speckle the curry, giving it that nutty taste. Listening to them hiss and pop is a pretty exciting way to start a recipe too. I think the other factor in how delicious this turns out is time. I like to cook it for at least 50 minutes, and it’s even more delicious the next day after the flavours have had a chance to infuse. When my dad cooks this he uses chicken thighs. I like to use free range chicken legs and just before serving, when the meat is tender and separating from the bones, I remove them. But it’s up to you really, serve with the bones if you like. But don’t forget the lemon juice right at the end, it’s essential, the bright tang of the lemon allows all the other flavours to shine.

My Dad Chicken Curry

(serves 4)

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 thumb sized lump of ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of crushed chilli (or to taste)
500g of free range chicken pieces
1 can of coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, when hot put in the mustard seeds and cover with a lid and moderate heat. The mustard seeds will pop here. When they’ve finished popping add onion and fry gently until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant. Add spices and stir for a moment. Add a little more oil, then sauté the chicken pieces in the spice mixture until the chicken is brown and covered in the spices. Cover chicken with a can of coconut milk and bring to the boil. Don’t be tempted to add water here. Simmer on a low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Right before serving add the juice of one lemon.

Serve with pappadums, banana and coconut, cucumber raita, green mango chutney, and Basmati rice.

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my dad chicken curry: 15 comments

  1. Dad Says:

    I am not going to enter the authenticity debate but I have a feeling a certain Swiss lady had something to do with the recipe’s arrival in Oz.
    I tried adding a 1/4 of a preserved lemon to small curry last night and it was delicious. Make sure you remove it before serving.
    Next time I do it I am going to try both the preserved lemon and the fresh one too with the quantity cut back to say half.

  2. mum Says:

    this is very delicious and found its way to our kitchen via my very close friend from Goa,India, it is relentlessly rewarding.

  3. Dano Says:

    I think that maybe you should change your name, Trotski, because he was a vegetarian and a pacifist, you know, he would never eat this…

  4. sarah Says:


  5. sarah Says:

    Well, Dano. Trotski is my nickname, as my last name is Trotter. I was hoping the ‘i’ instead of the ‘y’ would negate any pacifist/vegetarian allusion.
    Alas. I am a meaty meany! Ha-ha.

  6. ahmarnya Says:

    i had this at your house once – mmm. now i have it FOREVER!

  7. Lara Says:

    Yum yum yum! i love curry and this one is a keeper!
    I couldnt be bothered to find/make the mango chutney so i cut up strips of fresh young mango and use that instead but the tangyness went perfectly.

  8. Annabel Says:

    I stumbled upon your website from a link of another one. Just made this curry for dinner. It was very delicious! Thank you for sharing all these recipes. I can’t wait to make honey joys!

  9. Kiri Says:

    I have not even finished cooking this curry and I have licked the spoon so many times there may not be enough sauce left! DIVINE! thanks heaps ladies 🙂

  10. Week 3: What we ate | Kitchen Butterfly Says:

    […] gnocchi with steamed spinach and chicken curry, adapted from Trotski & […]

  11. Geneva Ace Says:

    Tried this a couple of nights ago – nice! Tossing up between making your apple pie or chicken pie tonight…

  12. Heather Says:

    I made this last night. It was easy and SO good. I can’t wait for left-overs tonight. Thanks ladies!

  13. Michelle Says:

    Wow – YUM! I love the mustard seeds swimming through this devine concoction. Again another easy and tasty recipe. Thanks!

  14. Lucy Says:

    I love your site, all the food looks amazingly tasty, and it’s presented in such a lovely way! The writing, the photos, the layout, it’s wonderful. I made this the other night and it was AMAZING! Thank you!



  15. Dad Says:

    What 14 lovely comments, next the world. Was just looking for a yogurt and passionfruit syrup cake recipe.

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