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Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

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If you’re looking for an amazing and unique chicken curry, chicken and poppy seed curry needs to be on your ‘must try’ list!

Chicken and Poppy Seed Curry, also known as ‘Murgh Posto,’ has its origins in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, particularly the states of West Bengal and Bangladesh. This is a creamy and delicious curry that you can literally whip up in minutes.

I served it this time simply with onion fried rice which went down a treat! If you’d like to make this curry into a gourmet feast, serve it with samosas, naans or chapatis, a few good chutneys and don’t forget those homemade poppadoms.

Chicken and Poppy Seed Curry

So good! This is one you simply have to try.

About this recipe

The magic of this curry lies in the unique combination of succulent chicken pieces and a luxurious, creamy sauce that you can only get from the ground poppy seeds. The poppy seeds not only contribute amazing nutty flavour but also impart a luscious, velvety texture to the curry.

The recipe pre-dates the arrival of the chilli in the Indian subcontinent and it’s still often made without any chillies or chilli powder. That said, I added a couple of tablespoons of Kashmiri chilli powder to mine this time around. It’s therefore optional and if you do decide to leave out the chilli powder, this is a great curry for kids and those who don’t like fiery hot curries.

Can you work ahead?

Yes. You can make any part of this chicken curry with poppy seeds a good few days ahead of cooking. So if you just want to toast the ingredients for the poppy seed paste, go ahead and do that.

If you are serving a crowd and want to cook the whole curry, go ahead and do that too.

Place the finished curry, covered in the fridge for up to three days. The curry will actually get better as the flavours develop.

Do you have to use black poppy seeds?

No. You could also use white poppy seeds for this curry. I prefer using the darker poppy seeds because it gives the curry a darker colour.

How spicy is chicken curry with poppy seeds?

The majority of the times I’ve tried chicken curry with poppy seeds in India, it hasn’t been spicy.

This is a recipe that relies on the poppy seeds and warming spices for flavour.

That said, you will see that I decided to add chilli powder to my recipe. That is optional but I like it to have a bit of a kick to it.

Can you freeze chicken curry with poppy seeds?

Yes! No problem at all. In fact, some people prefer to do this as they think the flavour intensifies. I only recommend that you freeze it for 3 months tops though.

How do you reheat the curry?

If you are reheating from the fridge, you could just place it in your microwave, stirring every few minutes until it’s hot.

You will get the best results if you heat it up in a saucepan. Just place the curry over a medium heat and stir occasionally until it’s heated through.

You might need to add a little water if doing this and then just simmer it down until you have your preferred consistency.

Do you have to add the grated coconut?

Not at all. I know some people don’t like grated coconut in their curries. If that’s you, just leave it out.

You could also stir in a little coconut milk. If doing this, I recommend serving the curry within 3 days. 

Top tips for making Chicken curry with poppy seeds.

  1. Soaking the poppy seeds: If you don’t have a great spice grinder, you should soak the poppy seeds in water for at least 3 hours or overnight. Poppy seeds have a tough outer coating that can be challenging to grind if you don’t have a good grinder. After soaking, pat them dry with a towel and carry on with the recipe. This will give you a much creamier texture.
  2. Use the freshest ingredient: It goes without saying that freshness is key to a good curry. Chicken curry with poppy seeds does not have a lot of ingredients so make sure you use the best.
  3. Balance the flavours: You should always taste as you go. In my original recipe, I didn’t add any chilli powder or turmeric. That was added later because I thought the curry needed it. 


Step by step photographs

Ingredients for chicken curry with poppy seeds

Get all of your ingredients together before starting. It’s much easier that way.

Toasting poppy seeds and cumin seeds

Toast the poppy seeds and cumin seeds over a medium heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Then transfer to a plate to cool.

Toasting grated coconut.

Toast the grated coconut in the same way until fragrant and just beginning to turn a golden brown. Transfer to the plate with the poppy seeds and cumin.

Poppy seed, cumin and coconut paste.

Place all these toasted ingredients in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and add just enough water to grind to a paste.

Infusing the whole spices into the oil.

Heat the oil in a large pan and stir in the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods to infuse their flavour into the oil.

Frying the onions, garlic and ginger and adding the ground poppy seed paste and spice.

Add the chopped onions and fry for about 7 minutes or until just beginning to brown. The stir in the garlic and ginger paste followed by the ground coriander, cumin and the poppy seed paste.

Adding the chopped tomatoes to the pan

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well to combine. I added chilli powder at this stage but that is optional and you can add it to taste.

Stirring the chicken into the spices in the pan.

Stir in the chicken and ensure that you coat it well with the poppy paste and spice.

Adding water to the chicken in the pan.

Add just enough water to almost cover the chicken and bring it all to a simmer.

Simmering the curry, covered for 20 minutes.

Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Why have more spices been added at this point?

When I tasted the curry, I decided I wanted a bit more heat and a touch of ground turmeric.

These were not in my original recipe but both are spices you can add any time during cooking. In the recipe below, they are added with the other spices and are optional.

When adding ground chilli powder and turmeric at this late stage, just let it simmer into the sauce to cook out the rawness for about 5 minutes.

Simmering the sauce to thicken.

Then lift the lid and continue simmering until the sauce thickens.

Finished chicken and poppy seed curry.

Your chicken and poppy seed curry is ready!


Yield: 4

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

Chicken and Poppy Seed Curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (optional and more or less to taste)
  • 200g (3/4 cup) chopped tomatoes
  • 750g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped, to garnish


  1. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the poppy seeds and cumin seeds. Stir the seeds around in the pan until they become warm to the touch and fragrant. Then transfer them to a plate to cool some.
  2. Now add the grated coconut to the pan and toast it until it begins to turn a golden brown. Transfer the coconut to the plate with the poppy and cumin seeds.
  3. Once cooled for a couple of minutes, place everything in a spice grind and blend with just enough water to make a thick paste. Set aside. If you don't have a good spice grinder, please refer the notes.
  4. Heat the oil in the same pan and add the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Allow these to infuse their flavour into the oil over a medium-high heat for about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the chopped onion and fry for about 7 minutes or until the onions are soft, translucent and just turning a golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir well for about 30 seconds before add the poppy seeds paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder, if using.
  6. Stir well to combine and then add the chopped tomatoes and let it all come to a good simmer. Add the chicken and stir well so that the chicken is completely coated with the mixture in the pan.
  7. Pour in just enough water to almost cover the chicken and cover the pan to simmer for 20 minutes. Then lift the lid and continue simmering until you have a nice thick sauce that coats the chicken. At this stage it will smell amazing!
  8. Once you’re happy with the thickness of the sauce, season with salt to taste and garnish with the fresh coriander to serve.


The step by step photos and this recipe are slightly different as I decided rather late in cooking to add the chilli powder and ground turmeric.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 579Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 240mgSodium: 672mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 47g

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