Pre-cooked chicken not only makes curry better but tastier too.
Why pre-cook your chicken?
Pre-cooked chicken, meat and veggies play in the preparation of British Indian restaurant style meals. Pre-cooking the chicken until tender not only makes cooking in Indian restaurants faster but tastier too.
This is very important with tougher cuts of meat like lamb, goat, beef and pork but chicken and other meats benefit too.
I like to vary my recipes for pre-cooked chicken and meat. I change them often but at the end of the day it’s all done to give the meat that famous British Indian restaurant flavour.
This is done not only for flavour but speed. If you have your pre-cooked chicken and its stock ready, you can whip up curry house style curries in minutes!
Think about it… A delicious chicken curry whenever you want it for much less than the local takeaway!
About this recipe.
I pre-cook chicken in several different ways. So if one of my curry house recipes calls for pre-cooked chicken, you could use any of these methods.
For tandoori style chicken, I marinate the chicken pieces in a yogurt marinade for up to 48 hours and then cook it fast in my tandoor oven, home oven or on the barbecue.
The yogurt works as a tenderiser for the chicken meat. The end result can served as is or it can be added to curries such as tandoori chicken tikka masala. You can check out my ‘go-to’ tandoori style chicken tikka recipe here.
The other way I prepare chicken is to simmer it in a fragrant broth for about 30 minutes until cooked through. This is the following recipe. Cooking chicken like this gives the chicken a much lighter flavour and softer texture.
It’s a good way to cook chicken for curries such as chicken korma where I lighter look and flavour is usually preferred.
You could use either method for your curries. Use the marinated tandoori chicken tikka to make tandoori chicken tikka masala.
Use the stewing method with small bite sized chicken pieces (tikka) to make chicken tikka masala. I think you get the idea… Do you want chicken korma or tandoori chicken tikka korma? The choice is all yours.
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British Indian Restaurant Style Pre-Cooked Chicken
You can cook any cut of chicken this way but the most popular way is to cook chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces. I like to cook chicken thighs on the bone for even more awesome flavour.
- 1 kilo (2 lbs.) skinned chicken pieces
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 cardamom pods
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 large onions - finely chopped
- 400ml chopped tomatoes
- 3 bayleaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Heat the oil over medium high heat until very quite hot but not yet smoking.
- Add the whole spices and the bay leaves and stir continuously so that the spices don't burn. Watch carefully, you want the oil to take on the flavour of the spices but you don't want them to brown.
- Add the chopped onions and stir to combine.
- Continue stirring from time to time for about ten minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add just a bit of salt. This will release some of the excess water from the onions.
- Now add the turmeric and mix it in.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes and cover the pot to let all the flavours get to know each other.
- After about ten more minutes, add the chicken pieces and just enough water to cover the chicken.
- Cover again and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove from the heat to cool for use in your curries.
The cooled chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or frozen.
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Wednesday 18th of January 2023
Hi Don,I have done your base gravy and chicken Balti recipe, absolutely great thanks for sharing your tasty tips.
Tuesday 7th of February 2023
Thanks very much, Martin. Really good to hear. Dan
Saturday 2nd of July 2022
Hi Dan, I've not used Kardomon pods before and am wondering if they need to be grinded or cooked whole. I assume that the black peppercorns and cinnamon are cooked whole. Is that correct?
Looking forward to the Madras once I have the ingredients.
Monday 4th of July 2022
Cook the cardomon pods whole that take them out before serving. Yes, the peppercorns and cinnamon are whole too. If you are worried about fishing them all out use a tied muslin cloth to put them all in as the dish cooked and this will still impart the flavour. Thanks Dan
Saturday 30th of April 2022
When you want to double or triple recipes, do you just double or triple ingredients?
Sunday 8th of May 2022
Yes, that is what I do but be a bit careful with any hot spices. Maybe add those to taste. Thanks Dan
Sunday 13th of March 2022
Hi! I made another batch, this time with double quantities - turned out great. I'm planning on making six times the quantity in my largest stock pot so that I can freeze it in individual servings and defrost as needed. But here's a question: when I make the chicken it takes ages to fish it out separately from the tomatoes, onion, cardamom etc. Is there some kind of way to keep the chicken separate, in a basket or something, that you can recommend? I suppose I could leave the chicken thighs whole but then the broth wouldn't penetrate the meat as well as it does. So I'm thinking of suspending a sieve basket in the broth with just the chicken in it then pulling it out, a bit like a fryer basket. Any advice?
Thursday 17th of March 2022
If you don't like the whole spices I would recommend tying them in a muslin cloth and then you can take it out at the end. The tomatoes should just break down and the onions are fine to eat with the chicken. Thanks Dan
Saturday 5th of March 2022
I've made the chicken jalfrezi off this site several times - and last time I'd run out of this, so I just used plain, diced, precooked chicken. It was still good, but nowhere near as good as this. So if you're on the fence about the extra effort: do it at least once. This adds another layer of flavor that just can't be matched, even if you up the amount of seasoning in your curry sauce.
I grew up in Scotland but moved to the US long ago. We have Indian restaurants here but they're not the same as BIR. I can say without hesitation - the base curry sauce, the precooked chicken, and the mixed powder are the building blocks for that taste of home. If you shortcut it, it'll still be good, but you won't make it all the way there. Do it once and you'll know.
Thursday 10th of March 2022
Thanks for the post and I am glad you are able to enjoy Indian food in the US. Dan