Guyanese Style Chicken Curry is a constant in our home and in most Guyanese and Caribbean households. It is the description of comfort food for my children. When they are not feeling so great, they ask for chicken curry and roti. In Kindergarten when everyone shared that their favorite food was pizza, my little Andrew said his favorite food is chicken curry and roti. This dish is near to my heart and it was one of the first things I learned to cook.
I remember watching my mother make masala by toasting spices in a frying pan then taking her belnah (rolling pin) and crushing them with a back and forth rolling motion. Her firm constant pressure creating a smooth powder like consistency that today can easily be achieved with a spice grinder. The smell of geera, coriander and mustard seeds toasting takes me back to these days every time.
Why use a Whole Chicken?
When I make Chicken Curry I prefer to use a whole chicken versus just the thighs or drumsticks. Although if I don’t have a whole chicken and I have thighs and drumsticks I will choose those over chicken breasts. Unless I am making Bunjal Chicken which is a different recipe all together. Click here to check it out.
The flavor from using the bones, some of the skin and all the different parts of a whole chicken is simply delicious. The best curry I have ever made is when I am using an entire chicken. And don’t worry about leftovers, if there are any it stores well in the refrigerator and can be easily reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Making the Masala
There are two ways to make masala. You can make your masala by roasting and grinding whole spices or you can use a combination of store bought ground spices. The flavor is richer when you use whole spices however, it is not so significantly richer that I must use whole spices every time. I believe that it is okay to evolve some recipes over time and store bought ground spices are good enough.
Making the curry paste
Using fresh herbs to make this curry paste is often the difference between a thick curry and a watery curry. When I was a little girl I watched my grandmother grind her herbs with a lorah and sill, a flat and a round stone used for grinding herbs and spices much like a mortar and pestle. She had a kind of rhythm that crushed garlic, cropped onions, peppers and thyme into a smooth paste in what seemed like seconds to me. When these two items came out you knew “grandmother” (as we called her) was about to get down in the kitchen. And you knew it was about to be amazing. Back then she cooked over a fireside (a mud oven/stove used in traditional Guyanese cooking). The flavor of a fireside Chicken Curry is unmatched.
When the fresh herbs, combine with the ground spices and some water you create an aromatic curry paste. Uncooked or cooked, this curry paste can last up to a week in the refrigerator. Sometimes I make it ahead and freeze it for quick meals during the week. Don’t tell my mom I’m freezing my curry paste and may my grandmother in heaven look the other way as I write this!
Bringing this dish together
The secret to a great Chicken Curry is absolutely in the curry paste. How you make it is key but also how you cook it. Tips for cooking perfect curry paste:
- Always start with a hot pot. Let your pot come up to temperature before adding your oil. This prevents your curry paste from sticking
- Use a lot of oil. Yes, I know I said a lot of oil. Don’t skim on the oil or the curry paste will burn.
- Fry/Cook your curry paste on high heat but watch it like a hawk. If it burns it will significantly alter the taste of your dish. Burnt curry is not tasty.
- Don’t cook the paste until it is completely dry. Leave a little bit of sauciness to coat the chicken pieces.
As I mention before you can cook your curry paste ahead and stick it in the refrigerator or freeze it for future use. Sorry mom.
Making this dish Whole30
This recipe is naturally Whole30 compatible, but be careful when choosing your curry powder as some brands have fillers that are not Whole30 compatible. Most Caribbean people eat Chicken Curry with roti or rice which would make their meal not Whole30 compatible. When I’m on a Whole30 round I love eating my Chicken Curry with coconut cauliflower rice or cauliflower rice and split peas.
Save it for later
The Printable Chicken Curry Recipe:
- 1 Whole Chicken (about 5 lbs), cleaned and chopped into 2 inch pieces
- 1½ cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of oil for cooking
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 lb)
- 1 tablespoons of onion powder
- Salt to taste or 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 green onions
- ¼ cup of cilantro or coriander leaves
- ¼ cup of parsley
- 1-2 shallots or 1 yellow onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 wiri wiri pepper or ½ habanero pepper
- 3 tablespoon of yellow curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons of roasted ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 1 bay leaf
- Add the onion powder, granulated garlic and salt to the chopped chicken.
- Then mix together well and set aside
- Combine all of the fresh herbs and ½ cup of water in a food processor or a blender cup and process/blend until a smooth paste forms
- Then add to a mixing bowl and combine with all of the spices and mix together to form a thick curry paste
- Add a large pot to high heat and bring up to temperature. When the pot is hot add oil and allow the oil to come up to temperature
- Then when the oil is hot add the curry paste and cook for about 5 minutes or until the paste becomes some what dry, stirring often to prevent the paste from burning
- Next add the seasoned chicken and mix until it is fully combined with the cooked curry paste
- Continue to sauté on high heat, stirring often to prevent the chicken from burning or becoming too brown.
- Then reduce the heat to medium, cover and let the chicken cook in it's natural juices
- After 10 minutes stir the chicken and continue to cook covered until the juices thicken
- Next add the diced potatoes and continue to sauté uncovered
- Then when the natural juices from the chicken cook down add 1 cup of water then increase the heat to high, cover and continue to cook, stirring often until the chicken cooks and the curry thickens.This should take about 20 minutes. If necessary you may add more water about ½ cup at a time
- Once the potatoes are fork tender, the chicken is fully cooked and the curry sauce is thick remove from the heat and enjoy
The manage the spice in curry dishes, choose a curry powder that doesn't have chili listed as one of it's ingredients. A mild yellow curry is perfect. Then you can increase the heat to your liking by adding fresh peppers like wiri wiri, habanero and chilis or you can add chili powder.
Follow me on Instagram
Do you follow me on instragram (@metemgee)? I recently demonstrated how to break down a whole chicken into sizable pieces for curries and stews. It’s saved to my highlight if you are on instagram and want to check it out.