Darshanie: Chicken Curry Adds the Spice

Chef, writer and activist Joshna Maharaj says that growing up her mom Darshanie’s Chicken Curry was “like everyone else’s Kraft Dinner”–a meal that was simple to prepare and so became a family dinner staple.  While the two diverge on aspects of how this curry should be prepared, they exemplify how recipes evolve from generation to generation–family to family.

Check out the video and watch some family magic unfold


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 4-5 fresh (or dried) curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
2 yellow cooking onions, finely chopped 
2 tbsp minced garlic 
1 tsp minced ginger  
1 ½ tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken, such as breasts and thighs
  • 1½ cups pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • Finely chopped fresh coriander to garnish


  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil or ghee to high.  Add cumin, chili and curry leaves and stand back!  Once the spluttering has subsided, reduce heat to medium high, add the onions and fry for about 4 minutes, until they turn a rich golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté to cook. Mix in the cayenne, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper. Sauté briefly to cook and combine.
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat with onions and spices, and fry for about 5 minutes or till the chicken is well coated in the masala and lightly browned.
  4. Add the tomatoes and mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until chicken is well cooked.  Sprinkle in the garam masala, cover again, and continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes to allow the aroma to blend well in the curry.  The longer this simmers on low, the better the flavour will be.   Taste and adjust salt and chilies as necessary.

Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves and lime wedges.

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