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Simple Staff Chicken Curry

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This simple and authentic chicken curry is one you need to make! So good.

Restaurant staff curries are awesome. Try this simple chicken curry! 

A few years after I started writing this blog, I was invited to Punjabi restaurant, Sachins in Newcastle to learn some of their recipes.

One of the recipes that I learned was this simple chicken curry which also happens to be one of their staff curries.

Since then, I have seen Punjabi staff curries like this made on numerous occasions at different restaurants. Now I would like to show you how it’s done. 

Simple chicken curry

This simple chicken curry is so good. You can do so much with it too.

What is a staff curry?

Most restaurants will have a lamb, seafood or something like this simple chicken curry cooking in the kitchen for staff.

In Sachin’s case, I think this Punjabi chicken curry was also on their menu.

Usually, however curries like this are served to staff as they are much more like the curries they eat at home.

It might be the chicken tikka masalas, lamb madrases and vindaloos that get people in the doors of a restaurant but that is not what the staff want on their plates. 

Make this simple chicken curry your own…

This simple chicken curry is delicious as it is. There is so much you can do with it though.

If you like spicy curries, you might like to add some Mr Naga pickle to it to taste. This makes an amazing naga chicken curry.

You could also add black mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut milk to the mix for a more south Indian flavour.

Like saag curries? Why not blend up some spinach and fresh chillies and pour it in with a little cream?

I often add chicken tikka to this simple chicken curry along with the bone in thighs. Then I take the tikka out with some of the broth and use it in my BIR (British Indian Restaurant) style curries. 

Other ideas…

In the winter months I like to cook this simple chicken curry but with mild flavoured game birds such as pheasants and partridges. When I do, I cook the whole birds cut into about three or four pieces.

There really is no reason why you couldn’t use other meats too. Lamb leg cut into small chunks on the bone is always a big hit at my house. This is also a popular staff curry at some restaurants. 

Just in case you like cooking with step by step photos, I have photographed the method for this simple chicken curry for you…

Infusing spices in ghe

Infuse the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon stick in the oil or ghee.

added onions and garlic ginger paste

Fry the onions until soft and light brown. Then stir in the garlic and ginger paste.

Added ground spices

Add the ground spices and stir them into the onion mixture.

added tomato and chicken

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the chicken.

covered chicken with water

Add just enough water to cover the chicken.

simmering curry

Simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

Simmering curry

Continue simmering until you are happy with the sauce consistency.


What makes this curry so easy?

One thing I really like about this authentic Punjabi chicken curry recipe is its simplicity! You only need one pot. Get your ingredients prepared before starting and the recipe is so easy.

The flavours are out of this world too. Just let the curry simmer slowly and you will be in for a real treat.

Working ahead…

Just like most curries, this Punjabi chicken curry is even better the next day.

I thought I should point this out. If you are having friends over or a curry feast, cook everything the day before and then just heat it up to serve. Your friends will be amazed at the flavours in this easy curry and you won’t be left standing in front of the oven. Get your curries cooked and then enjoy the party!

Like this simple chicken curry? You might like to try some of these too…

Cumin chicken curry
Railway lamb curry
Chicken lababdar
Authentic monkfish curry
Punjabi onion bhaji curry

Simple chicken curry

I like this with a nice thick sauce. You could have a runnier sauce. Just don’t simmer as long.

simple chicken curry

Dig in!

Yield: 4 - 6

Easy Punjabi Chicken Curry

Simple chicken curry staff chicken curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 12 chicken thighs - skinned and on the bone
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 3 onions - finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 tennis ball sized tomatoes - finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large saucepan that has a lid, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds, coriander and cinnamon stick and infuse for around 30 seconds. Pour in the chopped onions. Stir continuously so that the onions become soft and translucent. Fry for about 15 minutes ensuring that the onions do not brown or stick to the pan.
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste, chilli powder and turmeric followed by the chopped tomatoes and allow to sizzle over medium heat for about five minutes. Add about a teaspoon of salt. This will help the onion release moisture into the sauce.
  3. The onions and tomatoes will begin to break down, turning into a thick sauce. This is a sauce you can use for any restaurant style curry. You may want to leave the chilli powder out though if you’re making mild curries.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and tomato paste.
  5. Stir it all up nicely and pour in just enough water or spice stock to cover the chicken.
  6. Cover the curry and let it simmer for about ten minutes. The sauce will become nice and thick and will stick to the chicken pieces as they cook.
  7. Remove the lid and stir adding a drop more water if you prefer a thinner sauce or turn up the heat if it is too runny.
  8. You’ll know when the curry is ready when the oil comes to the top. Simply skim it off.
  9. Stir in one tablespoon of the garam masala and taste. Add more if needed. I usually use about two tablespoons of garam masala.

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I hope you enjoy the authentic and simple chicken curry recipe. If you do get a chance to try it, please let me know what you thought in the comments. I would love to hear from you.



Saturday 9th of September 2023

Total aroma and flavour envelop! I used chicken pieces - some wings some legs and some thighs - about 2.2 kgs and adjusted the rest for the added meat. At writing this I haven't yet tasted but I can smell the result will be fabulous. I use fresh chillies - 2 large and chicken salt because it was there.

Dan Toombs

Monday 11th of September 2023

Hi Mick

Thank you for trying the recipe. I'm happy you enjoyed it!

Cheers, Dan


Friday 14th of July 2023

Hi Dan, you had another recipe which used coconut milk, double cream, mustard seeds etc.. it was my favourite chicken curry recipe that i've been following for years. I can't find it anymore unfortunately, has it been removed?

Dan Toombs

Friday 14th of July 2023

Thanks but I can’t think off the top of my head which one you mean. I don’t think any have been removed. Dan

Clive Jones

Tuesday 30th of August 2022

Tasty and easy to make - I will definitely be cooking this again👍

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Thanks very much, glad you enjoyed it. Dan


Friday 5th of August 2022

I noticed you use veg oil now not rapeseed in this recipe. Which one tastes the best?

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Just use whatever one you have, vegetable oil tends to be made with rapeseed oil Thanks Dan


Sunday 9th of May 2021

Hi Dan,

If I wanted to scale this curry up to cook for 12 people what would be the ratios of the ingredients to keep it balanced.

I have cooked many BIR style recipes from your books already but would like to make this one in bulk as it sounds delicious.

Any help be much appreciated.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

I would more or less just scale everything up except for the hot spices that you would have to be a bit more careful with, add those to taste. Thanks Dan

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