Lemon coriander chicken curry is one of the very first curries I ever learned to cook. I cook dozens of curries now but this one is special to me. It’s different. Not a run of the mill curry. The sauce is on the runny side. No onion at all. It’s homestyle Indian cooking. Like somebody’s mom used to make. It makes me smile every time I make it.
This recipe is a spin on Madhur Jaffrey’s lemon coriander chicken curry. More green chili and a heavier hand on the spices are the big differences. I’ve also added a bit of cinnamon stick – adds a nice haunting background flavour. This recipe definitely works better with dark meat. And it’s best with chicken on the bone.
The spices are straight forward. Coriander and cumin powder, turmeric and chili powder. I use Kashmiri mild chili powder. It’s well worth seeking out if you cook a lot of Indian. You can substitute cayenne but be sure to use half as much. Cayenne is a lot hotter than Kashmiri mild.
When you start cooking the curry it will seem a bit dry. Don’t flinch. The chicken releases natural juices. Too much liquid up front and the curry will be too thin. Keep the pot covered and have faith. It works. And it’s delicious.
- 3 lbs chicken, on the bone, skinned
- 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 4 green finger hot chilies, seeded and diced (or 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced)
- 1 Tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp kashmiri chili powder or ¼ tsp cayenne
- 2" piece of cinnamon bark
- 2 cups chopped cilantro leaves and stems (no roots)
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup chicken stock or water
- Heat the oil in a pot large enough to hold all the chicken. Dry the chicken with paper towel. Working in batches, brown all the chicken over moderately high heat. Don't over crowd the pan and let the chicken cook long enough to release naturally. This helps avoid sticking problems.
- Remove the chicken and drain off all but 3 Tbsp of oil.
- Over medium heat, cook the garlic ginger paste until it stops sizzling, about 30 seconds.
- Now add the green chilies and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add the spices (coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, chili powder and salt) and cook 15-20 seconds
- Mix in the chopped cilantro. Cook, stirring constantly for another 30-45 seconds.
- Add the lemon juice and the chicken stock or water.
- Return the chicken and accumulated juices, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through - about 15 minutes.
Measure out your dry spices before you start cooking so you can add them all at once. Prep all the ingredients while the chicken browns. The French call this mise en place and it's a great habit to get into when you have to move quickly.