Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry Recipe

Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry Recipe
Rajasthan is India’s largest state and is located in the northwestern part of the country. The cuisine of Rajasthan is as varied and distinct as its inhabitants. From the royal dishes of the kingly Rajputs to the strict vegetarian dishes of the Marwaris, Rajasthani cuisine offers an endless variety of dishes to please every palate.

Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry is a wonderful example of what Rajasthan’s vibrant & delicious cuisine has to offer. Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry is a subtle variation on the widely popular Rajasthani specialty known as “Lal Maas” (which directly translates into “red meat” referring usually to spicy lamb curry). These delicious Rajasthani non-vegetarian dishes were highly enjoyed by the Rajputs (Rajasthani royalty) & were a sign of prosperity. In general, this dish is usually rather on the spicy side – but you can adjust the amount of red chili powder to suit your family’s palate. The addition of freshly chopped garlic & garam masala at the end to finish the dish adds both a unique flavor & aroma.

Traditionally, whole spices are added to this dish. Now this practice is very commonly done throughout India, but you prefer – you can lightly toast & grind the whole spices into a fine powder. Now I am usually a big fan of using boneless chicken in most recipes, but for this particular recipe – I highly recommend using bone-in chicken legs & thighs.



2½ to 3 lbs bone-in, skinless chicken legs & thighs (score the pieces or make shallow slash marks)
1 large onion, finely sliced
5-6 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
1 cup thick yogurt
juice of ½ lemon
2-3 tsp red chili powder, to taste
1 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp ground cumin powder
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
1-2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (about 2” in length)
1 black cardamom, crushed
1-2 green cardamom pods, gently crushed
2-3 black cloves
1 tsp garam masala
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish


In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt with the lemon juice and about half of the minced garlic & half of the grated ginger. Then add 1 tsp of the red chili powder along with the salt & pepper. Now add the chicken pieces and mix well, making sure all of the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap & marinate for at least 4-6 hours, but overnight is best.

In a large wide pot (or Dutch oven) on medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions along with the remaining garlic & ginger, sauté until golden brown. This may take awhile (25-30 minutes), so be patient but adding a small pinch of salt helps the process along. At this point, add in all of the spices (both the dry & the whole spices): the remaining 1 tsp of red chili powder, smoked Spanish paprika, turmeric, ground coriander powder, ground cumin powder, ground allpsice, freshly grated nutmeg, salt, pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, green cardamom pods & black cloves). Stir well & let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding in the chicken pieces (reserve the extra marinade). Mix well, making sure the chicken pieces are well coated with all of the spices & aromatics. Let the chicken pieces brown on all sides (about 15-20 minutes), keeping cooking & stirring until the oil actually starts to separate. Now add in the remaining marinade along with about 4-5 cups or so of water (as needed). Bring the curry to a good boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked yet still moist & tender. Lastly, sprinkle the top with the garam masala & chopped garlic. Cover & let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, serve with fresh rotis & fragrant Basmati rice.

Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry photo Rajasthani Red Chicken Curry_1.jpg

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