This 35-minute authentic Bengali chicken curry is a delicious stovetop chicken recipe with chicken pieces, whole spices, ground spices, onions, garlic paste, and ginger paste.
This Bangla chicken curry recipe is a common recipe in Bengali households with many different names. In Bengali, murgir jhol means chicken gravy, murgir gosto means chicken meat, and murgir lal jhol means red chicken gravy.
I was visiting my dear friend, Nazaha (of Bengali heritage), and she made me this simple chicken curry for dinner. What blew me away was how easy and flavorful it was!
Nazaha was kind enough to give me her mother's recipe and help me troubleshoot it until it was perfect (many messages back and forth). I give step-by-step instructions below for the best Bengali chicken curry recipe ever.
What You Will Love
Are you looking for ways to be adventurous in the kitchen but unsure how? A great way to try something new is to use unfamiliar spices. This healthy chicken recipe is perfect for dipping your toes into new flavors (like this chicken biryani rice). Say goodbye to bland chicken recipes!
Another great thing about this light chicken curry is the health benefits. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory benefits, preventing cancer and heart disease. The health benefits of ginger are attributed to gingerol, a bioactive compound known for its medicinal benefits.
- Chicken pieces: Curry dishes have chicken pieces cut into chunks. This recipe has bone-in chicken thighs with the skin removed and boneless skinless chicken tenders. Substitute all dark meat or all white meat. Trim the meat from the bone, but use the bone in the curry for extra flavor.
- Diced onion: Use any onion.
- Garlic paste and ginger paste: There are a few options. Use frozen garlic paste and ginger paste found at the grocery store. There is also bottled ginger paste. You can mince fresh garlic. Another option is to use a bottled ginger garlic paste. Make sure to use fresh ginger in paste form.
- Tomato paste (optional): Use any tomato paste.
- Whole curry spices: Whole spices are different from ground spices. These spices must be whole: bay leaves, cardamom pods, cassia bark (similar to cinnamon sticks), and whole cloves.
- Ground curry spices: Use turmeric powder, garam masala powder, ground cumin, and coriander powder. Garam masala is a common curry powder used in Indian and Bengali cuisine. You can find all the spices at an Indian grocer.
- Oil: You can use any fat preferred, like grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, ghee, butter, or olive oil. I prefer ghee because I like the taste.
- Salt to taste
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Bengali Chicken Curry
Prep the chicken. Remove the skin from the bone-in chicken thighs. Trim the meat around the bone. Cut the thighs and white meat into 1.5" (4 cm) small pieces.
Dice the onions and mince the fresh garlic cloves. On medium-high heat, fry the onion and minced garlic in ghee.
Once the onions soften, add the garam masala powder, turmeric powder, bay leaves, cassia bark, cardamom pods, whole cloves, coriander powder, cumin powder, and a little salt.
Add the chicken curry pieces.
Mix well. Add the tomato paste.
Let the chicken cook until the chicken juices start to come out (about 10 to 12 minutes). This is important! Don't add water until you see chicken juices forming a thick gravy.
Heat a little water in a kettle. Add the hot water. Turn the stove down to low heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. The cooking time might vary a little.
Garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) and red chilis. Serve with steamed white rice or vermicelli rice. Add some sauteed okra for extra veggies.
Tips and Tricks
- The most important tip for this recipe is adding water after the chicken juices come out. The chicken meat takes about 10 to 12 minutes to sweat the fat out on medium-high heat.
- Don't substitute ground spices for whole spices. Ground cinnamon or ground cardamom cannot be substituted for the whole spice.
- Use chicken with the bone for extra flavor! The bone adds flavor to the chicken gravy.
- Don't add too much water; otherwise, you will have runny curry.
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute a small piece of cinnamon stick for cassia bark. Cinnamon has a strong flavor, so you want just a small piece.
- Add red chili powder, cayenne pepper, or fresh chilis to make the delicious curry spicier.
- Add potato chunks to make this a chicken and potato curry recipe.
Store this Bengali chicken recipe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
Use ground spices and whole spices as detailed in the recipe. Don't use too much water. Make sure the ratio of spices to meat is accurate.
Serve sauteed okra, white rice, and lentil dal with chicken curry.
Chicken thighs with the bone are great for a flavorful chicken gravy broth.
Recipes with Spice
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Authentic Bengali Chicken Curry
- 2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs remove the skin, see note 1
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast or chicken tenders see note 1
- 2 cups diced onions
- 1½ cups water
- 8 cloves minced garlic mince fresh or use garlic paste
- 2 tablespoon ginger paste use frozen or bottled
- 4 teaspoon ground garam masala
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 small cassia barks substitute a small piece of cinnamon stick
- salt to taste
- Prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the bone-in chicken thighs using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Cut around the bone and into small pieces about 1.5" (4 cm) in size.
- Dice the onion. Mince the garlic (if using fresh garlic). Measure out the spices. This makes things easier as you cook.
- In a large pot on medium-high heat, fry the diced onions and minced garlic in oil (or ghee). Once the onions soften, add the ground spices (garam masala, turmeric, coriander, and cumin), whole spices (cassia bark, cardamom pods, cloves), bay leaves, and salt. Cook for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces and tomato paste. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the chicken juices come out. Add water. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
- Serve with steamed rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and fresh chilis.
- This recipe mixes bone-in thigh meat and boneless chicken white meat. However, you can make this recipe with white meat or dark meat. I prefer a combination because the bone adds flavor to the curry, and I like chicken white meat.
- Nutrition facts don't include rice.