bengali chicken curry – restaurant style

Indian restaurant Bengali chicken curry takes the flavors of the family kitchen and turns them into something your favourite Indian restaurant should be serving.


The spice mix

  • 1 tsp panch phoran – Bengali spice mix available at Indian grocers
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix recipe link below
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon powder – just a pinch really. Use 1/2 your 1/8 tsp measuring spoon to be precise.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

The curry ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp neutral oil or use a 50/50 mix neutral and mustard oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste Diluted in about 3 tbsp water
  • 15 oz curry base – recipe link below
  • 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken see note
  • 1 small to medium potato cut into 8 bite size chunks and pre-cooked in well salted water


Do your prep

  • Pre-cook your chicken. Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces. Put them in a pan with enough chicken stock or water to cover. Add a bit of spice mix or curry powder and a pinch of salt. Simmer until just barely done. The chicken cooks again briefly in the gravy.
  • Pre-cook your potatoes. Cut them into pieces about the same size as the chicken. Add them to a small sauce pan and cover with well salted water. Bring to a simmer. The potatoes are done when a fork slides into them easily.
  • Make the spice mixes. Combine the restaurant spice mix, kashmiri chili powder, cinnamon and salt in one small bowl. This is your powdered spice mix. Combine the mustard seeds and panch phoran in another small bowl.
  • Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste with about 3 tablespoons of water. 

Make the Bengali chicken curry

  • Heat your frying pan (don’t use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil.
  • Once the oil starts to shimmer add the panch phoran and mustard seed mix. You should see little bubbles forming around the spices. Cook 15-20 seconds.
  • Now add the garlic ginger paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering. This should take 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the powdered spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn. You can go a little longer if you want. Really cook out the spices. Just be careful. Burnt spices are not tasty.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. This is important. The heat is what drives Indian restaurant flavour. The Maillard reaction kicks in and magic happens. As you become more comfortable with this technique try pushing it. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
  • Add around 3 oz of curry base (you don’t need to be super precise here). Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Think lively boil. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here. Sticking is OK. Just scrape it back into the base. Burning is bad.
  • Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked chicken and potatoes.
  • Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don’t add water.
  • Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro if you like. Serve with rice or Indian flatbread (or both!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *