Chicken Masala Recipe | Restaurant style Chicken Masala curry
Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Santosh Allada
Who does not like a restaurant-style creamy and moreish chicken curry? It’s a curry that is loved by all age groups. With this restaurant-style chicken masala recipe, indulge in a rich and creamy curry consisting of tender chicken pieces braised with 3 ingredients paste, and a few aromatic spices.
Whenever I visit a restaurant or dhaba, the chicken curry served on the table brings a certain glow to my face. I’m sure, it’s the same with every foodie. Well, the reasons are obvious. Tender chicken pieces covered with creamy, buttery, lustrous, thick, and velvety gravy.
About Chicken Masala recipe
This classic Indian chicken masala curry is also called Murgh Masala in Hindi. It is a common dish you will find on the menu of most North Indian restaurants and Dhabas.
The chicken masala recipe is easy and simple. Chicken pieces are cooked in a delicious base gravy of onion and tomato. Next, a three ingredients paste is added to thicken the gravy and make it creamy.
The chicken masala recipe I’m sharing today is a cross between the famous restaurant-style, most loved dhabas, prominent and acclaimed catering or curry point style. The recipe has gone through a few trials and errors before deciding on this specific recipe.
My personal twist on the classic chicken masala recipe to make the gravy taste incredible is, I added a paste of three ingredients – cashews, yogurt, and coconut powder. The chicken masala curry turned out super creamy.
In restaurants, chicken is pre-cooked. When an order is placed, the cooked chicken pieces are mixed with pre-made gravies and served.
On the other hand, in my recipe, the chicken pieces are simmered in the gravy which makes the chicken pieces absorb all the flavors from the ingredients added. So, it won’t be wrong to say that this recipe is better than the restaurants near you.
Coconut powder is a common ingredient added in catering-style dishes for cost-effective reasons. The consistency of the catering-style dishes is a bit thin compared to restaurants.
There is no standard recipe to make chicken masala. There are many variations in making chicken masala and the recipe also varies from region to region.
Most of the time I make chicken curry in a heavy bottom pan to sear the chicken well. You can make this chicken masala curry in a pressure cooker, but the taste may change a bit.
The first bite with a piece of hot Indian flatbread or rice is ecstasy. Tender and juicy meat around the bone coated with a rich and creamy masala gravy will satiate your taste buds.
I follow this recipe when there are guests at home.
Reasons to try this recipe
Easy and simple for even a novice or a bachelor.
Rich and creamy gravy.
Restaurant-style chicken masala curry has exotic flavors.
No overnight marination
More flavorful than homestyle chicken curry.
Ideal for lunch or dinner on weekdays or weeknights.
Ingredients to make Chicken Masala curry
Chicken: I prefer to use chicken with bone, as it tastes better than boneless breast pieces.
Why use chicken with the bone for curry?
The flavor from the fat, and juices from the bone and marrow enhance the flavor of the curry.
I buy a whole chicken and get it cut to medium and equal sizes. So the curry has all the pieces – drumsticks, thighs, boneless/breast, wings.
The traditional chicken masala recipe uses bone-in chicken pieces but this recipe also works well with thighs, boneless breasts, or drumsticks.
Oil: I make this curry in sunflower oil. You can use any cooking oil of your choice – mustard oil, coconut oil, or peanut oil.
Whole spices: Bay leaf and cumin seeds. In this recipe, I have limited to only these two spices. However, you can add other whole spices of your choice.
Onion and Tomato: These two ingredients form the base in most restaurant curries. Only the quantity differs according to the dish.
Use ripe red Bangalore tomatoes. They are less sour compared to local tomatoes. Or use canned tomato puree. If you are using local tomatoes which are sour, add sugar while grinding them or add in the curry to balance the sourness.
A secret to making restaurant-style food at home is to use tomatoes in abundance. I follow a ratio of 1:2, that is tomatoes should be twice the quantity of onion.
The duo provides deep base flavors to most North Indian curries.
3 ingredients paste: Curd, cashews, and coconut powder or dry coconut.
Better to use full-fat or thick curd for a creamier texture. You can replace curd and coconut powder with cream, and add it towards the end.
Spice powders: Turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder (for vibrant color), red chili powder (for spice), coriander powder, cumin powder, chicken masala.
Adjust the red chili powder as per your spice preference.
Kasuri methi: A key ingredient in restaurant-style Punjabi dishes. It’s an aroma enhancer. So, do not skip it.
Herbs & seasoning: Coriander leaves to garnish and salt to taste.
How to make Chicken Masala?
Make the paste: In a blender jar, add curd, coconut powder, and cashews. Grind to a smooth paste, by adding little water. Keep aside.
Grinding curd with coconut powder and cashews will prevent curd from curdling when added to the gravy. For authentic restaurant style, you can skip coconut powder and replace it with 3-4 tbsp muskmelon seeds.
Making the Chicken Masala curry:
1. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add bay leaf and cumin seeds. Let them crackle.
2, 3, & 4. Add finely chopped onions and saute on medium flame till they turn light brown in color.
5. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
6 & 7. Add washed chicken pieces and saute on high flame till the color changes to white.
8 & 9. Add tomato puree and salt. Continue to cook till the moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides of the pan.
11 & 12. Turn the flame to medium and add the spice powders red chili powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and chicken masala. Mix well and saute till oil separates.
13. Turn the flame to low and add the paste. Give a good mix. Prevents curd from curdling.
14 & 15. Turn the flame to medium and saute till the oil separates.
16. Turn the flame to high and add hot water to the level of the chicken pieces. Give a good mix.
17. Let the water come to a boil.
18. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame till the chicken pieces are cooked tender.
19. At this stage, catering-style chicken curry is ready. Can add garam masala and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
20. For restaurant style, add kasuri methi (rub the dried leaves between palms before adding) and garam masala. Give a good mix, cook without covering the pan till the gravy thickens and the oil separates. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
Over the years of cooking at home, I realized that just cooking onion-tomato and adding spices is not enough. While making any dish, following the correct procedure makes the food tastier. Mentioned a few tips below which I follow:
If you are a bachelor and do not have a mixer or grinder at home, you can add store-bought tomato puree or finely chopped tomatoes and cook them till they turn soft and mushy. Add little water and continue to cook till onion-tomato forms a thick masala. You can substitute cashews with cream or full cream/fat milk.
Fry every ingredient well: The main trick which any professional does is to cook the ingredients well to get rid of the raw smell and bring out the best flavors.
Fry the onions well: Most Indian curries start with frying the onions. Saute the finely chopped onions till light brown color. Later while cooking the curry, the onion almost melts in the gravy.
If you do not fry the onion well, there will be pieces of onions in the gravy and affect the taste of your curry.
Cook the tomatoes till moisture reduces and oil separates.
Use a little more oil than usual: It is mainly to saute the onion and the base gravy.
Sear the chicken pieces well till the color changes to white before adding any liquid. This step helps in getting rid of the meat smell.
Do not overcook the chicken: It would fall off the bone and mix with the gravy.
Do not add more water: If you add more water, the gravy consistency will be thin. To thicken the gravy, you will have to cook for more time and the chicken pieces will overcook.
Without chicken, the thick, spicy, and creamy sauce is a multi-purpose gravy. You can cool it to room temperature and store it in the fridge or freezer. Make scrumptious veg or nonveg dishes by simply stir-frying par-boiled or pan-fried meat or vegetables of your choice in the gravy. Add little water to help the meat or veggies cook completely. Garnish with some coriander leaves.
Can add some heavy cream at the end to make the gravy richer and creamier.
So you can add paneer cubes to make paneer masala.
Can add par-boiled veggies or follow the same process and replace chicken with vegetables.
Saute mushrooms and add to the gravy and restaurant-style mushroom masala is ready.
Can add boiled eggs. Make slits on the boiled eggs and simmer in the gray for 5-10 minutes.
What to serve with Chicken Masala?
You can serve this restaurant-style chicken masala with bread such as naan, phulka, tawa paratha, rumali roti, parotta, tortillas, pita, or any other bread of your choice.
How to store Chicken masala curry?
You can store the chicken curry in the fridge. In fact, the chicken curry tastes better the next day.
Before storing the curry, wait for it to cool down to room temperature. Transfer the curry to an air-tight container and refrigerate for 2-4 days.
To store beyond, freeze the curry for about 2 months. You can make a big batch and store it in small portions. The chicken curry will be handy when you do not have enough time to cook or crave something exotic after a busy day at work.
Make sure to defrost, transfer the frozen pack to the fridge a day in advance or place it on the kitchen counter for a few hours.
Before serving, reheat in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop or an oven, until warm.
Microwave and oven: Transfer the curry to a microwave-safe container and cook the curry for 3-5 minutes. Stir in between for even heating.
On the stovetop: Transfer the curry to a pan and cook on medium flame till hot. Stir in between for even heating. Add little water if the gravy is thick.
More chicken recipes
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Chicken Masala recipe | Restaurant style Chicken Masala curry
3 Ingredients paste
- 1/2 cup Curd
- 8-10 Cashews
- 1/4 cup Desiccated coconut powder (or dry coconut)
For the Curry
- 1 kg Chicken
- 4-5 tbsp Oil
- 2 Bay leaf
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 large Onion
- 1 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp Red chili powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tbsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1-2 tsp Chicken masala powder or Kitchen king masala
- 2 large Tomatoes (grind to puree)
- 1/2-1 tsp Garama masala
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves to garnish
- Hot water as required
For making the paste
- In a blender jar, add curd, coconut powder, and cashews. Grind to a smooth paste, by adding little water. Keep aside.
For making the curry
- Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add bay leaf and cumin seeds.
- Add finely chopped onions and saute on medium flame till they turn light brown in color.
- Next, add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
- Add washed chicken pieces and saute on high flame till the color changes to white.
- Add tomato puree and salt. Continue to cook till the moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides of the pan.
- Turn the flame to medium and add the spice powders red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, chicken masala. Mix well and saute till oil separates.
- Turn the flame to low and add the paste. Give a good mix. Turn the flame to medium and saute till oil separates.
- Turn the flame to high and add hot water to the level of chicken pieces. Give a good mix and let the water come to a boil. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Cover the pan and simmer on low flame till the chicken pieces are cooked tender. At this stage, catering-style chicken curry is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
- For restaurant-style, add kasuri methi and garam masala. Give a good mix, cook without covering the pan till the gravy thickens and the oil separates. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.