Chicken Curry in a Hurry

A quick, tasty, and filling recipe for chicken curry. From Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp corn, grapeseed, or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder, or to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)*
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

*Some chicken breasts are bigger than others. We had two huge breast halves that added up to 1 1/2 pounds. To make them more serving sized, we sliced each half in half, horizontally, to make 4 breast pieces.

Method

1 Put the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions (and optional raisins), sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, sprinkle with half of the curry powder, and continue to cook a minute or two.

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2 Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle it with the remaining curry powder. Move the onion to one side of the skillet and add the chicken in one layer. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

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3 Add the sour cream and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is nice and thick. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for a couple more minutes, or until cooked through, turning once.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve with rice.

Serves 4.

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Comments

  1. Renee

    Thanks for this recipe! I’m always looking for good chicken recipes, and anything with sour cream is good!!!!

  2. Lydia Sugarman

    Love Mark Bittman! And, this recipe is about as easy as it gets. Looks really good.

    I wonder if you could easily replace the sour cream, part or all, with coconut milk and the cilantro w/ basil, add some steamed green beans to turn it into more of a Thai curry.

  3. Kylene

    Elise I can’t wait to try this curry chicken recipe! My husband’s family has made a simple curry for years using cream of chicken soup. I’ve been trying to find a recipe similar in simplicity but with fresh ingredients for years. I think this may be it! Also, your Dad’s pot roast recipe (cooked on the stovetop with red wine) is one of our favorites, we make it often and guests always love it!

  4. Suzanne

    We make a very similar recipe and then serve with toppings for everyone to choose from. These are usually green onion, shredded coconut, raisins, and mandarin oranges. Yummy!

  5. Madeline Miller

    I always eye his cookbooks in the store because I love the concept of his recipes. I don’t think I’ll be able to pass up a quick and easy version of them. Thanks for the heads up that this one will be published soon.

    Will I actually try a recipe that isn’t from Rachael Ray? Shocking!

  6. SK

    This may be a dumb question, but when you added the sour cream, the photo looks like it’s runny. Does the heat thin it out or does it really stay as thick as sour cream is in the container?

  7. Elise

    Hi SK – initially the heat and the oil in the pan do make the sour cream a little runny. The instructions call for cooking until the mixture is “nice and thick”, so you just need to cook it a bit so it thickens up more.

  8. Dawn

    This would be fabulous with your recent recipe for mango chutney! Curry and rice with a dollop of chutney on the side used to sweeten each mouthful – heaven… :)
    That decides it, I am going shopping this week to get the ingredients, especially as mangoes are in season right now. Thanks Elise!

  9. Paul

    Guess I’m in the monority, but having used many of Bittman’s recipes, I’ll only do so when I can’t find a better one in a pinch. I realize the emphasis here is on “in a hurry,” but this “curry” has nothing in common–and I mean nothing–except the chicken with anything that passes for curry in India or anywhere else. Much better to wait for the weekend and make a decent curry. Also, yoghurt is not only more authentic than sour cream, but will save you some calories and won’t taste like curry stroganoff.

    Making this with coconut milk will not make it into anything like Thai curry, since Thai curry doesn’t use most of the spices found in “curry powder,” which is usually mostly turmeric with some cumin and floor sweepings. You can make a passable Thai curry using a packaged Thai curry paste and coconut milk, though–it’s just as fast.

  10. Elise

    Hi Paul, did you know that most of what passes for curry in the UK would not be recognizable in India? Same for “kare rice” from Japan. Just because a recipe is called by someone “curry” doesn’t mean that it has to conform to a particular region’s definition of what curry is.

    To all – For more information on curry, see the Wikipedia entry on curry. For some really interesting history of curry, check out Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by historian Lizzy Collingham.

  11. Elise

    Hi Pam – you return the chicken to the pan and cook it longer. Bittman’s recipe calls for 2 more minutes, but depending on how thick your breast pieces are, it could be longer than that.

  12. Lisa

    I made this recipe, adding a few of my own ingredients…and I loved the results. I tossed some garlic in with the onion, I also put some cream into the sauce to stretch it a little further. It paired well with Quinoa, I made rice last night so I needed something new. Everyone enjoyed eating this, even our young kids.

  13. Piegirl

    The Singapore girl in me likes curry with coconut milk. But anything with “curry powder” flavor in it is always a welcome flavor, too.

  14. Shauna

    I’m sure the sour cream makes it very tasty, but that’s not an ingredient found in South Asian kitchens. Cream or coconut milk make more sense in a curry.

  15. L

    I will always be endebted to Mark Bittman for the No KNead Bread :)

    And Elise, you are right about the curry. It’s like eating takeaway Chinese. At least in Belgium, this has NOTHING to do with the “real” Chinese kitchen, if there even exists a “Chinese” kitchen. But there’s no point in despising it for that reason…

  16. merd

    My buddy Faisal would be offended by the quick natured solution of this dish, but flattered that Americans are trying to westernize the dish with speed without sacrificing flavor. There is something to be said for chicken thigh meat (the way he’s made it for us before) that completely falls off the bone with no effort… but there’s also something to be said for a tasty dish that doesn’t require that you spend all day making it. This would be served with a special (saffron maybe with a few peas in it) rice and that killer flatbread stuff (I dunno what it’s called really, but man it rocks)! I know also that there are subtleties as others have noted such as a garlic bud with the onion… the fresh basil, and maybe subbing yogurt for the sour cream that he would possibly add… all good mods for this recipe. I will give it a try… good stuff!

  17. Michele

    Merd, I think the “flatbread” youy’re referring toiscalled ‘Nan’(short ‘a’). You’re right, I bet it would be great w/that.

  18. Preeta

    Hi Elise and readers,

    The last time I posted a comment here it was also about some curry-related controversy — really, curry seems to be quite the powder keg of a topic, not just on this blog but in general :-) . The use of the word arouses some strong feelings, eh?

    What I have to say, as an Indian cook, is this: relax, you curry activists. Elise never claimed this was an “authentic” Indian recipe, and anyway, there’s no such thing as authenticity in cooking. Recipes change and are constantly being adapted. An Indian curry is not a Thai curry is not a Caribbean curry is not a Japanese curry is not a British curry, but they’re all pretty delicious.

    This recipe looks very much like a classic pre-1960 British curry, so all claims that it doesn’t resemble anything that passes for curry anywhere in the world are, frankly, wrong. You’ll find basically the same thing in cookbooks from the British Raj. It has its own place in culinary history and its own unique flavour, which some may like and others not — if you don’t like it, go find another recipe, but no need to get your knickers all in a bunch about how you would never find this in India. What makes a British curry less “authentic” than a curry you’d eat in India (which would probably not be called a curry)? Aren’t they *both* authentic representatives of their respective cultures?

  19. consumable Joy

    I’ve made this recipe tons of times, assuming it’s the same one from The Minimalist Cooks Dinner (good chance because a lot of Bittman’s books recycle his columns). It’s fabulous and easy, but I always use quite a bit more curry powder than he calls for. I suppose it’s my taste buds! Too jaded from all the powerful curry I’ve been used to eating…

  20. Paul

    OK, OK, I get it. My bad for my prickly post.

    Lydia, to make a quick Thai curry, try one of the Mae Ploy Thai curry pastes. I get them at my supermarket, but if you can’t, try Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Mae-Ploy-Thai-Curry-Paste/dp/B000EI2LLO/ref=pd_sbs_gf_5/104-0096854-7129530. (They all taste fairly similar.) For super-fast, just stir-fry some vegetables and/or meat, stir-fry the paste, and add coconut milk–dinner in 10 minutes. For almost as fast, pre-mix the paste with the coconut milk, some fish sauce (nam pla), hot sauce (sriracha), lime juice, and sugar. Throw in some basil and lemon grass if you have it.

  21. PRC

    I was dissappointed with the sour cream as the base for the sauce. It seemed to be very grainy on the palate. Do you have an suggestions for mitigating this texture?

  22. Sameer

    Im new to this blog so forgive me if this has already been covered..

    One trick that’s useful with curry/Indian dishes is that if you don’t like using Raisins, you can kick up the sweetness by carefully browning the onions instead of stopping at its translucent stage.

  23. Dawn

    I made this recipe last night, with a few adaptations… I got additional inspiration from Madhur Jaffrey’s recipes for Chicken with Cream, Chicken Mughlai and Chicken Korma. As I am currently in France, I was unable to get all of the individual spices, so I had to simplify Madhur’s ingredients. Also, the French do not seem to like ordinary cream or slivered almonds, so this dish was made with crème fraiche and cashews. It took about double the time of Elise’s recipe, but it was fabulously delicious!

  24. me

    I made this recipe last night and thought that it was great. Instead of sour cream, I used 2% Greek yoghourt from Trader Joe’s (as it was all I had on hand) and was very pleased with the result. I also put the almonds in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes to get them toasty. Lovely, simple week night recipe!

  25. Wes

    Yay! Another excellent recipe that even a full time father can make right the first time! You R-O-C-K Elise :-) I made this in my wok and cubed the chicken. I don’t think I’ll use my wok next time, but cutting the chicken into cubes worked out marvelously.

    Oh, and to settle this whole issue about what is and isn’t curry…

    The little bottle I used to sprinkle stuff onto my food said “Curry”. Therefore, it was Curry Chicken. I don’t need to know anything more than that :-)

  26. Connie

    This was delicious!! My husband and I are bodybuilders and eat ALOT of chicken so always looking for new recipes. I substituted fat free sour cream and it was super good!!!

  27. Erin

    I tried this yesterday evening, and found it to be really quick to prepare (as the name suggests), easy, and pretty tasty. We thought it was a little bland so may experiment with added ingredients in the future, but all-in-all really enjoyed this. It’s a great week-night meal. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  28. Amy K

    I make something similar, I add hot pepper flakes and use Yogurt instead of sour cream. My husband is British and loves his curry, allthough this is different from the take-aways.

  29. ollie-robbit

    I’ve made this twice now–really tasty. The first time I used half coconut milk and half sour cream. I undercooked the chicken (oops!) so it kinda ruined it for me when I noticed. Tonight I made it again and used all sour cream. It was a bit sour so I got in touch with one of my Indian friends and he said he always throws a few heaping spoonfuls of honey in it. PERFECTO!!! :D I highly recommend adding a little honey. I also nearly doubled the curry, hehehe!

    Great recipe! Thanks for sharing :D

  30. Jeremy

    Thanks for the recipe!

    I made this last night and it was easy to make and tasted pretty good. The next time I make this it will be much better though.

    A word of caution on using the yoghurt, when I put it in the yoghurt instantly turned into water and curds, really watered down my sauce. I had to put in corn starch to get it to thicken up :(. I did use Non-Fat yoghurt, maybe that was part of the problem… or maybe I need to let everything cool off a bit before adding the yoghurt?

    Also 1 1/2 Teaspoons of curry powder? I nearly quadrupled that and still was not satisfied with the taste. I suppose I’m used to curry’s that make you sweat all the way through the meal! :)

  31. 50yearcook

    I found this recipe on your blog and made it last night. Just wonderful. I had Nancy’s Honey Yogurt on hand so used 3/4 cup of it plus 1/4 cup cream. being very careful not to boil. Instead of chili pepper flakes I used a bit of cayenne. Forgot the sliced almonds, but it was so delicious we didn’t need them. Thanks for this one and Many others.

  32. Chanda

    I made this recipe this week. My family enjoyed it very much. There was not enough for seconds so we were all disappointed! My husband said that I need to TRIPLE the recipe next time. Anyhow, like another reader she said that it turned out a little grainy. I think that I might try creme fraiche or yogart like some of the others next time. Thanks again. Keep these great recipes coming!!

  33. Diane B

    If you want to use yogurt instead of sour cream, use a full-fat one. Yogurts with a higher fat content don’t curdle the way low or non-fat ones do, as long as you just simmer lightly.

    Another trick which an Indian friend told me of is to stir a bit of flour into the yogurt before adding – the yogurt is apparently less likely to curdle this way.

  34. Kim

    Elise,

    This was great! I live in Japan, and have truly enjoyed all the recipes I’ve tried. Thanks for having this website available. It truly does feel like a family website.

  35. Mom2Schnauzers

    Made this for the first time tonight…easy, fast, and GOOOOOOD! It’s a keeper! Finally…I feel like I know where to find recipes for real food (not something out of a box/can) that is convenient to make and tastes great! Thank you!

  36. jamie

    I made this dish last night and it was well received. I added ground red pepper to the chicken for a spicy kick. I also used Tofutti’s Better than Sour Creme for a dish with less fat. I used much more curry than recommended because it was tasting rather bland. I’m going to try coconut milk next time after reading the suggestions. Great easy dish! It took only 30 mins to cook and prep. Thanks!!

  37. Jen

    Made this last night for a quickie dinner and we loved it! I didn’t have enough sour cream, so I used half sour cream and half lite coconut milk. Also I threw in some chopped up asparagus at the end. Very tasty! Thanks for the great recipe, especially one so quick and easy.

  38. Kristy P

    This was my very first of your recipes to try. My husband is definitely NOT an adventurous eater but I always try to expand on our menus now and then. Curry was a new thing for him so I was treading carefully! I’ve eaten curries but have never made one before so this seemed like a nice simple way to start. I used dried cranberries since I had no golden raisins. I did not return the onions and cranberries to the skillet at the end since my husband won’t eat onions but just mixed them back in after he got his food plated. Instead of sour cream I used about 3/4 can coconut milk (my first time cooking with it–yum, but I think I will try light next time due to the high calories and fat!). I added some crushed pepper flakes, a little chili powder, and some garlic salt to the sauce (fresh garlic might have been nice but I didn’t have any and it needed a bit of salt IMO). I did garnish with cilantro and it added a nice touch. I served it along with some lemon basil rice. My hubby gave it two thumbs up! I am going to try some other curries now that I see it will be eaten! Thanks for the great dinner!

  39. amy

    I like this recipe but I’m going to try it with either yogurt next time as my husband had a reaction to the sour cream. I found it very tasty with naan.

  40. Tatiana

    I tried this recipe because it looked simple, I like to make curry once in a while and I usually make curry with a bunch of other ingrediants especially with apples, anyway I liked it, very simple and quick. I added some slivered almonds to it for some crunch. Thanks for a yummy dinner!

  41. Sarah

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been making this recipe practically weekly since the first time I found it on your website about 5 months ago. Your blog always makes me happy and gives me hope when I need to come up with a great dish, so thank you!

  42. Mindy

    Was looking for a chicken curry recipe the other day and came across this one. I already had coconut milk, so I used that instead of sour cream and added some sweet potatoes, bell pepper, and potatoes to stretch it out a bit. I also added a smidge of garlic and basil and lemon juice. To go with it I made some of your apple chutney and cucumber salad, and then added nuts, raisins, and chopped apple. According to my husband it was “very good”.

  43. Lindsey

    We love this recipe. When you don’t want spicey curry, it really hits the spot. I omit the raisins and use a little extra curry powder.

  44. Rebecca

    Sorry, but this was just not very good. There was nowhere near enough curry, and the sour cream completely dominated. It was more like a flavorless chicken stroganoff than a curry.

  45. trish

    I thought this curry chicken was great. I was so surprised to taste it and it was slightly sweet! Then I realized it must be the onions carmelizing. Since I am ‘low-carbing’ it, it made me think for a minute that it was something I shouldn’t be eating…Thanks for the recipe.

    The onions have no more sugar in them at the end of the cooking than they do at the beginning, it’s just that the sugars have basically cooked, or caramelized, to bring out more flavor. ~Elise

  46. Kirsten

    I almost always cook vegetarian, but thought I’d give this curry a go. I added quite a bit of coconut milk to the yogurt mixture, as well as red chili powder to add some spice. It turned out fairly well with a side of steamed spinach, but it took MUCH longer than advertised to cook the chicken all the way through. In the end I had to resort to cutting the chicken into chunks.

    Next time I think I might marinate the chicken in the curry sauce rather than doing it this way. The flavor was good but it just didn’t soak into the chicken very well.

  47. Danielle

    This recipe is good, I sliced the chicken into thin bite size pieces and added peas. For an authentic curry taste you will need to add ALOT more curry. Using sour cream as a base is fine but the tartness of it cancels out the curry, so you must add alot more. I add to taste.

  48. Hali

    My husband whipped this up for dinner on a Saturday night, and it was delicious! Our 17 month old couldn’t stop eating it. Thanks!

  49. Zac

    I love bitty! His blog is great.
    Somehow, I don’t think he would make this recipe anymore. His new book is totally healthy, and is a “take” on M. Pollan’s book. quite excellent as a whole. I would put a link here, but am too lazy to find it on amazon!

  50. roxyhenise

    I couldn’t believe how easy and delicious this recipe is, thank you very very much.
    It only took me less than 20 minutes to make it, I had Basmati rice ready; what a plate
    thanks again
    PS: IT’s GLUTEN FREE AWESOME

  51. Bee

    I decided to experiment a little with this recipe. I didn’t have sour cream, so instead of a creamy sauce I made a tomato-y sauce. When the recipe called to add the sour cream, I added 1 cup of chicken broth, 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste and about a tablespoon of flour dissolved in a little cold water. The sauce thickened up nicely and was perfect. I received rave reviews from everyone at dinner that night. The only thing I regret is not doubling the sauce recipe.

  52. Rene

    I did this recipe last night and it was great. Quick, easy, yummy. One thing to note is I think cutting up the chicken into bite size pieces would have worked better. This recipe is a keeper. Added currants instead of the golden raisins and added tons of cilantro on top and sticky basmati rice.

  53. Meng Ning

    Thank you Elise! Very tasty and quick. I read the reviews and cut the chicken into bite size pieces and used yogurt instead of sour cream. It was very good and perfect for a working woman’s life!

  54. Debora

    I cooked this dish for dinner yesterday and it is delicious. I used the golden raisin (couldn’t imagine to do it without) and the almonds in slices. I made few extra variations. I have cut the chicken in blocks, added some milk to loosen the sour cream and a little whisky. I had some rice with it (the rice i used is pre mixed with nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and papaya). And what makes even better is that is a fast to prepare meal. Will certainly prepare it again. Thx.

  55. Clea

    This was a pretty good base recipe. It was a bit dry for me so I added some chicken broth. Made a nice thick sauce. Put some leftover green pepper in with the onion and chopped garlic in after the onion was translucent(so the garlic won’t get burnt and bitter), and added way more curry than the recipe says for more curry flavor. Came out delicious!

  56. Via

    So I was looking for something quick and good to make. Im no chef but this seemed very easy. So I Took the chance. It was soooooo good! I loved it! Think I will make some again tonight! Thanks again :)

  57. Beth

    I just made this recipe but substituted 1/2 low fat sour cream and 1/2 non-fat plain yogurt for the sour cream. Fabulous! And almost guilt free. The sauce may be thinner than with the full fat, but luscious anyway. I also used dark raisins. Don’t leave out the raisins – they add such a nice counterpoint.

  58. Jane Herriot

    I’m home from grad school on a luxurious, generous winter recess, and my folks asked me to get dinner going one night last week when they had crazy schedules. Naturally, we are also in the post-holiday there’s-nothing-in-the-pantry-fridge-or-freezer stage. One chicken breast, a bit of sour cream, and Trader Joe’s 0% (non-fat) Greek-style yogurt, and luckily we have a well-stocked spice cabinet! I cut the chicken into pieces so it would cook faster, and ad-libbed on the Garam Masala I found in the cabinet. It was done when they got home, and GONE by the time I came back downstairs after changing to go out! This is a recipe I’m sure will get lots of time in my rotation when I go back to school!

  59. homechef

    This recipe was VERY disappointing. I have loved everything I have cooked from your blog (especially your mushroon, chicken, and rice dish) but this recipe is not good.

  60. Ashley

    INCREDIBLE! I love this recipe! The sour cream is fantastic. Although, I added ALOT more curry and bit of cinnamon and ginger. I didn’t have any onions so I added a few sprinkles of minced onion seasoning. One of my favorites! Thank you!

  61. Boston Kate

    Thank you, for this recipe. I’ve prepared this many times, since I first tried it last summer. Just made it last night. It is so quick and easy; most importantly it is dee-licious. I use chicken tenders.

  62. Shannon

    Thought this was a great recipe base. It is obviously meant to be tweaked according to personal tastes. After reading a few comments decided to cut sour cream with coconut milk. I did 16 ounces of sour cream (full fat) with about 6 ounces of coconut milk, but will do 1/1 next time. Doubled the sour cream as we like to have a lot of sauce. I also added quite a bit more curry powder than suggested and used black pepper. Re: the onions and raisins, OMG!, I was so leery about this part but it was so delicious. I cooked them exactly as the recipe suggested and could not believe the flavor! For the chicken I got chicken breast strips, as mentioned they do need to cook a bit longer than suggested, but by doubling the sour cream and adding the coconut milk, I was able to let the chicken do a medium boil in the sauce and cook thoroughly. Next time I will marinate the chicken in white wine as the chicken was a little bit tough. I am far from what anyone would call a “cook” but my husband raved about this. By the way, I used Mahatma’s premixed saffron rice on the side. So tasty together! Someone mentioned that they added peas to their rice, I will do that next time as well.

  63. Hstan

    My mother made chicken curry for me often – it was my favorite “welcome home” dish. (she had lived with her professor’s family while doing her graduate in music – they had lived in India for many years) My chicken is in small chunks, uses some chicken broth. She simmered and softened cut apples in the sauce — and lately, I have added small cubes of eggplant. Raisins definitely. Chutney and banana on the side. Juicy sauce marries with underlying rice. Next day leftovers have flavors really melded and delicious. Freezes well for future lunch portions.

  64. amanda

    thanks again, elise! loved this. i used some big bone-in breasts with skin on, so i did the onions and raisins first in the sautee pan, then removed them and seared the breasts that i had rubbed with garam masala and curry powder. put them in a 450 oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, and while those were in, i put the onions and raisins back in the pan with 1.5 tsp garam masala and 1.5 tsp curry powder and sea salt. cooked together for a few, dumped in the sour cream, and then added in the finished breasts to warm through all together. topped with cilantro and chopped raw cashews and it was fantastic! great easy dinner that will be in heavy rotation in our house, for sure.