Punjabi Chicken Masala recipe

Masala curries come in many varieties but this recipe is as authentic as you can get for a real tasty home-made Punjabi style Chicken Masala dish, which does not take very long to make.

Chicken Masala

the 'masala' is made dry compared to it being tomato based

Chicken masala or masala chicken is a dish many people see on an Indian restaurant menu. However, the real chicken masala is actually a home-made Punjabi dish, originating from North India and varies in technique.

Many traditional curry recipes vary from region to region but the overall concept is the same and tend to use core spices and ingredients to create the ‘masala’ which is sauce aspect of the dish.

Chicken masala, therefore. has the masala at its core.

Naturally, the chicken can be substituted for any other meat but cooking times may vary especially for lamb, which can take longer to cook properly.

The most important attribute of this Punjabi dish is that the ‘masala’ is made dry compared to it being tomato based masala which is commonly used to create full-bodied curries.

Full curry dishes are made usually with the addition of water and those curries are not ‘masala’ but known as ‘tari’ (sauce) dishes i.e. with a more watery consistency.

Therefore, the important thing to remember when cooking this dish is that the gas mark or electric hob setting is not to high such that it will ‘burn’ the masala.

Onions are a very important ingredient for the masala and these maybe Spanish, cooking or even red onions.

The chicken used in this recipe is in ‘niblets’ form which is on the bone and easily obtainable from a local Desi butcher or market.

But diced chicken breast, drumsticks or a whole medium sized chicken skinned and chopped, may be used as an alternative.

This dish will serve 2-3 people.

1kg or 2.5lbs of chicken niblets
1 large Spanish onion or 2.5 medium cooking or red onions
1 Garlic bulb with about 6 cloves
1 medium size Ginger root
1 green chilli (or more if you like more heat)
1 teaspoon of Jeera (Cumin seeds)
1 teaspoon of Cloves (about 5-6)
2 teaspoons of Paprika
1.5 teaspoons of Garam Masala
1 teaspoon of Haldi (Tumeric)
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground Black Pepper
Rapeseed or Olive oil
Small bunch of Fresh Coriander
Optional: for more flavour 1/2 Chicken Stock cube e.g. Maggi


  1. Pour oil into cooking pan so that it just about covers the base of the pan and is about 50mm high.
  2. Put the pan on medium heat to the cooker.
  3. Add the Cumin seeds and let them brown – they should sizzle and crack.
  4. Peel and chop the onions into small dices and add them to the pan.
  5. Peel and chop the Garlic and Ginger into fine pieces and add to the pan.
  6. Chop the Green Chilli and add to the pan.
  7. Add the Cloves to the pan.
  8. Stir and cook the mixture until it is light brown.
  9. Wash the Chicken niblets, drain off any excess water, and add to the pan.
  10. Mix in the mixture with the Chicken and cook the meat until it becomes creamy white and moist.
  11. Add the Paprika and mix into the pan covering as much of the Chicken.
  12. A few minutes later and the Garam Masala to the pan and mix in.
  13. Then, add the Haldi to the pan, again mixing it into the Chicken.
  14. Cook the meat in the pan until the masala (sauce) fully covers the meat.
  15. Optional – Add the 1/2 stock cube.
  16. Stir it occasionally making sure it’s not sticking to the pan at the bottom.
  17. Now turn the cooker heat lower and add the Salt and Black Pepper. Taste the dish for Salt or Pepper and add more if desired.
  18. Move the dish to a smaller hob. Lowest heat.
  19. Cover the the dish with a lid and let it simmer and cook for about 50 minutes with intermittent stirring, to the point when the meat is rich with the masala and easily comes off the bone.
  20. Garnish the dish with fresh Coriander and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Serve the dish accompanied by naan or fresh roti (chappati). Enjoy!

Nazhat is an ambitious 'Desi' woman with interests in news and lifestyle. As a writer with a determined journalistic flair, she firmly believes in the motto "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," by Benjamin Franklin.

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