Fragrant Rice and Chicken Curry Recipe

From the 2019 January | February Issue

Serves 6-8

A combination of spicy, salty and savoury with just a touch of sweet, a good curry is one of my favourite things. I grew up on a version that my Grandmother used to make, remembering it as great comfort food when the family gathered for a special occasion. My grandparents were missionaries in the Rajasthan area of India in the thirties and forties and brought home some incredible recipes and flavours when they returned to Canada in the 1950s. Typically, my grandmother’s curry was a thin but very flavourful broth with lots of onions, chicken, and sometimes potatoes. It was served over basmati rice that was studded with peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and currants. On top was a simple chutney of sweet onion and tomatoes with white vinegar. Peanuts were sprinkled over top, and a banana was served on the side to counter the heat. It is a meal that I crave to this day.

The curries of India are vast in terms of flavour and regional ingredients. This curry is a combination of some of my favourite recipes that I’ve cooked over the years. It is not traditional to any particular part of India but does include all of the defining elements. You can use your favourite curry powder or paste, though I highly recommend making your own from scratch, which will last in the pantry for about 6 months.


Curry powder 

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat.
Add to the pan:
3 Tbsp coriander seed
2 Tbsp cumin seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp whole peppercorn
1 tsp fenugreek
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut

Toast over dry heat, shaking constantly until fragrant and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely. Grind to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle.

Add to spice mixture and mix thoroughly:
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander

Store in a clean, dry jar for up to 4 months.


10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
4 Tbsp ghee or olive oil, divided
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt
2 medium onions, julienned
6 Tbsp homemade curry powder (or your favourite store-bought powder or paste, such as Patak’s, if preferred)
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 lb baby white potatoes, halved
1 796ml can diced tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach
juice of one lime
fresh cilantro and roasted peanuts to serve


1 medium white onion, diced
1 ½ cups tomatoes, diced (about 2 large tomatoes)
4 Tbsp white vinegar
salt and pepper


1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
½ cup currants
2 cups jasmine rice


In a large bowl, combine garam masala, coriander, 1 Tbsp of the grated fresh ginger, 3 cloves of the minced garlic, white vinegar, salt, pepper, 2 Tbsp of the ghee or olive oil, tomato paste, and yogurt. Add chicken thighs and coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp ghee or olive oil. Stir in onions, allowing to cook and brown for about 15 minutes. Add remaining 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger and cook for another minute, stirring. Add curry powder, stir in, and let it sit for about 30 seconds, letting it cook in the oil. Give the mixture a stir, and then add the chicken with the yogurt mixture, stirring well to combine. Add chicken stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and let cook at a low simmer for another hour or so, letting all of the flavours combine. Just before serving, add the spinach and the lime juice. Heat until spinach is wilted.

While the curry simmers, make the chutney. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the rice, melt the coconut oil in a medium to large, heavy-bottomed pot. (do not let it smoke). Add the cardamom, salt and currants, giving it a swirl to cook for about 30 seconds. Add the rice, stirring to coat it well in the oil mixture. Add 3 ¾ cup water (be careful, it will steam aggressively!) Stir once. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. When the rice is cooked, take off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes before removing the lid, then fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice and curry with the chutney and top with fresh cilantro and peanuts.


Written By:

Having lived on the West Coast all her life, Rebecca made the move from Vancouver to Vancouver Island in 2004 to pursue her love of fine food and expressive portraiture. A food and lifestyle photographer, her work can be defined ...

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