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Jeera Chicken Curry

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If you like cumin, you are going to love this jeera chicken curry!

I absolutely love this authentic jeera chicken curry recipe! Cumin ‘jeera’ is the second most popular spice in the world, second only to black pepper. Don’t be scared off by how much cumin is used in an authentic jeera chicken curry as it mellows as it cooks and is out of this world delicious.

This jeera chicken curry is so good served simply over fluffy Basmati rice or pilau rice. In fact, it’s pretty amazing with any of these flavoured rice dishes. You might also like to serve it with Bombay potatoes or homemade naans and chapatis.

  Jeera chicken curry

About this jeera chicken curry recipe

This is a recipe I learned while traveling through New Delhi. I wasn’t there long but was able to try a good homemade jeera chicken at a little food stall near our hotel. It was amazing and I simply had to get the recipe.

Unfortunately, the chefs didn’t speak English but they did let me watch what was going on and this is my interpretation of that amazing feast.

How do you make authentic tasting jeera chicken?

As the name implies, this jeera chicken recipe is all about the cumin. Four tablespoons in all! Half of the cumin is toasted until fragrant and warm to the touch before grinding. The rest is infused into oil giving it a different and equally as delicious.

Another important step is browning the onions which are used both in the jeera chicken curry and as a garnish. You are going to love this jeera chicken!

Can you work ahead?

Yes. Go ahead and prepare this jeera chicken curry a couple of days ahead of cooking. The flavours will develop and it will be even better.

How long does jeera chicken last in the fridge?

It will keep, covered in the fridge for at least three days. 

Can you freeze jeera chicken curry?

Yes. It freezes really well. If you are freezing leftovers, just place it in a suitable container and freeze. On the other hand, if you are making it for later and wish to freeze your jeera chicken curry, leave out the yoghurt.

Yoghurt and other dairy products don’t freeze well but your curry will still be delicious if you have to freeze it with the yoghurt in the sauce. 

How do you reheat this curry?

If you are taking it out of the fridge, you could just microwave it until hot. Better would be to place it in a saucepan and heat it up slowly. If doing this, you might need to add a drop of water.

If reheating from frozen, let it defrost completely. Then reheat using one of the above mentioned methods.


  1. Be sure to follow the recipe exactly. It is important to toast the cumin seeds before grinding them.
  2. Make this jeera chicken a couple of days ahead of serving and it will be even better.
  3. Be careful not to burn the spices. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the ground spices to ensure they don’t burn.

Step by step photos.

Ingredients for jeera chicken.

Gather all of your ingredients before you start cooking. It’s easier that way.

Toasting the cumin seeds

Toast 2 tbsp of the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat until warm to the touch and fragrant.

Ground cumin with whole cumin seeds also in view.

Transfer the cumin seeds to a plate to cool and then grind them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

What does toasting the cumin seeds do?

By toasting the cumin seeds, you are bringing out their natural oils and in doing so, giving the cumin an amazing flavour. In the photo above, you see whole untoasted cumin seeds and the ground, toasted cumin seeds.

As you can see, just a few seconds of toasting also darkens the seeds and gives the curry a darker colour too. 

Frying the onions.

Fry the onions until golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Adding cumin seeds and garlic and ginger paste to the pan.

Pour out all but 2 – 3 tablespoons of the oil and add the untoasted cumin seeds. Fry for about 30 seconds to flavour the oil and then stir in the garlic and ginger paste.

Stirring in the chopped chillies.

Stir in the chopped chillies.

Adding ground spices and water to the pan.

Then pour in all the ground spices including the cumin you toasted and ground. Add a couple of tablespoons water so that the spices don’t burn.

Stirring the chicken into the pan.

Stir in the chicken and ensure that the chicken is coated with the spices.

Adding fried onions to the pan.

Return all but a couple tablespoons of the browned onions to the pan and stir them in too.

Simmering the chicken, onions and spices in the pan.

Cover with water and bring to a simmer, covered for about 10 minutes. The oil will rise to the top as the curry is almost ready.

Adding yoghurt to the pan.

Cook it down to thicken to your liking and then stir in the yoghurt.

Jeera chicken curry

Enjoy! Garnish with the fried onions and coriander (cilantro) to serve.

Want to try some more chicken curry favourites? You’ve simply got to try some of these!

Shahi Chicken Korma
White Shahi Chicken Korma
Chicken Karahi
Chicken Keema Karahi
Authentic Chicken Haleem
Chicken Biryani
Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds
Goan Chicken Vindaloo
Chicken Keema Pav
Chicken Changezi
One Pan Chicken Rezala
10 of the Best Chicken Karahi Recipes

Yield: 4

Easy Cumin Chicken Curry

Jeera chicken curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 700g (1 1/2 lbs.) chicken cut into bit sized pieces
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 onion - thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 generous tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 green bird's eye chillies - finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 - 3 generous tbsp natural plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander - finely chopped (optional)


  1. Toast 2 tbsp of cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Be careful not to burn the cumin or it will become bitter. Grind the cumin in a mortar or spice grinder into a powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the sliced onions and fry for about 10 min until golden brown in colour but not burnt. Transfer the fried onions with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to soak up excess oil. You only need 2 tbsp of oil for the curry. If you want, you can transfer the rest to a jar to use as seasoned oil in other recipes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tbsp of cumin seeds to the oil and fry for about 20 seconds to infuse their flavour into the oil. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds, just to cook off the rawness. Add the chopped chillies and the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and ground cumin and stir well to combine. Your pan will look quite dry from the spices so add a couple tablespoons of water so that they don't burn.
  4. Now stir in the chicken and fry for about five minutes to brown in the oil and spice mixture. Return all but a couple tablespoons of the fried onions to the pan and the remaining water to the pan and stir well. Cover the pan and simmer for another five minutes.
    Add the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time and continue cooking until you are happy with the sauce consistency. You can always add more yoghurt or water/stock if you prefer more sauce. Season with salt to taste and garnish with fresh coriander and the remaining fried onions to serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 236mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g

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Pete Hadfield

Wednesday 22nd of November 2023

Hi, the whole family really enjoyed this curry tonight which makes it a real winner ! Is it from the new one pot book? I wondered about adding a touch of tomato paste for sweetness ? Thank you for all the great recipes Pete

Dan Toombs

Monday 27th of November 2023

This recipe is going to be in a book that I have coming out next year. I think you could definitely add a little tomato paste. Thanks very much. Dan


Monday 13th of November 2023

Can you use ground cumin instead of grinding your own? How much should you use?

Dan Toombs

Sunday 19th of November 2023

You could do but ground seeds would be better. Use a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin then more if required to taste. Thanks - Dan


Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Yet again, another outstanding recipe, so quick and easy to create. Will only use one birds eye chilli next time as MrsG likes things a bit less tongue tingling let’s say. Serving it with saffron rice and naan which is just sitting in the sun growing!

Dan Toombs

Friday 9th of June 2023

Thanks very much and good call to tone down the chillies if your wife doesn’t like much hot spice. Thanks Dan

Paul Hogan

Sunday 14th of March 2021

Would it be a good idea to add your easy base curry sauce to this recipe to make it a bit more saucy

Dan Toombs

Monday 15th of March 2021

Yes, you could certainly do that. Dan


Tuesday 5th of January 2021

Hi Dan, I love your recipes and have a couple of your books but I really wish you could spend more time on the fonts and colours of the text on your site - the font under the photos is so small I have to enlarge the fonts 2-3 times to see it. And in the comments box you've used italic in a pale grey which is practically unreadable - I'm sitting here squinting like crazy just to see what I'm typing! I'm using the latest Firefox on Windows 10 if you need to check but it would be nice if you could fix this for future recipes so it's more readable for those of us that don't have 20/20 vision!

Anyway, on a cooking note, when you say whisk in the yoghurt one tbsp at a time do you mean actually use a whisk or do you just mean stir in it? I find that my yoghurt is always curdling when I add it to a hot curry so how exactly do you avoid that? And what is the best yoghurt to use to avoid the curdling - I've tried full fat and low fat Greek and normal yoghurt and it always seem to curdle - even if only a little bit, but it often affects the taste, o I'd be keen to know how you stop this from happening.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 7th of January 2021

You could just use a fork to add the yoghurt, this should lessen the risk of it curdling as opposed to simply stirring it in. Reduce the temperature of the curry a bit too if you have having a problem with it curdling. I generally use full fat yoghurt.

I have never had a complaint about the legibility of the text before but will look into it.

Thanks Dan

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