Indian Receipe: Ma’s Chicken Curry

Bengali chicken curry always looks like this, irrespective of who makes it. My mother, your granny, your cook.


I learnt mine from Ma.

Ma left us at 65, untimely and unexpectedly. But I had time to gather some of her receipes, time to strengthen on her lifes’s philosophies and a life span between my childhood and adulthood of understanding some of her ways, her thinking and the appreciation of her strong fearless spirit. She was afraid of nothing !

mammy in her roomcropped

Ma didn’t enjoy cooking and  only learnt to cook after she got married. Not from my father who didn’t even know how to boil water ( I am not kidding I caught him trying to make tea one day) but from my her father-in-law. Papa’s father.

Ma cooked for nourishment. So we always had home cooked hot meals. She made sure every meal had the adequate requirements of vegetables, protein, pulses and lentils and carbs. Food for her was nourishment. And ‘desert’ to end the meal was usually yogurt with either jaggery or sugar.

For a person who didn’t like cooking and was always hesitant of her skills, its amazing how many people still remember her by saying “I used to love her chocolate pudding” or “chicken crepes” or something else that she made.

Anyway I digress, the receipe ! here you go


  • Bay leaf, dry chilli, diced onions, diced tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, yogurt, chilli powder.
  • Chicken legs work best, I remove the skin


  1. Marinade chicken with yogurt, ginger-garlic paste,salt, turmeric, use half diced onions, chilli powder, use half diced tomato.
  2. I keep mine overnight in ziplock bags
  3. Bring to room temperature and braise the legs. Set aside.
  4. Fry: bay leaf, dry chilli,
  5. Add half diced onion, ginger-garlic paste. Fry  till oil separates or till its light brown
  6.  Add braised chicken and marinade, and the remaining tomatoes. Fry till water from chicken evaporates,
  7. Add water for gravy
  8. Cover and sim for 30 mins
  9. Add Bengali garam masala. ( Bengali garam masala – cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn and cardamom. Dry roasted to release the aroma and the  ground to fine powder.)
  10. stir.
  11. Remove from heat and enjoy with Rice.

Curry ideally should be a bit runny. Bengalis are rice eaters so our currys tend to be more runny.


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