I grew up on this Kenyan jeera chicken curry. Kenya has a very large Indian population and they have modified some of the Indian curry recipes to make them their very own. I was lucky enough to have had the pleasure of enjoying and learning all about these recipes and flavours. This jeera chicken is an example of just such a recipe.
Jeera chicken got its name because of the “jeera”(cumin seeds) that are sprinkled on top of the curry once it’s cooked. The recipe uses whole cumin seeds that are toasted / roasted and sprinkled on top of the curry which gives it a delicious crunch.
The Ingredients for Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry
The difference between this curry and any other Indian curry is that it does not use onions or tomatoes. Jeera chicken is made with a special ingredient – yogurt.
The Ingredients List for Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (or oil of choice)
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 jalapeno pepper (or chili of choice)
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (divided)
- 8 boneless skinless breast (or chicken thighs if preferable)
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 whole green cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version)
- 4 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup water
- We start by finely chopping the garlic, ginger, and chili. You can seed the chili if you prefer it to be milder or you can skip it completely. It will not make much of a difference in the flavour.
- Chop the chicken thighs into bite size pieces and place them in a separate bowl. Set everything aside.
Other Chicken Recipes you will Like:
Roasting the Cumin Seeds
Let’s start the cooking process:
- Heat a large pan and bring it to medium heat. Do not add anything to it.
- Once it’s heated, add half of the cumin seeds (1 teaspoon) to the pan and toast them. You will be able to smell an earthy flavour as soon as they start to toast.
- Toss the cumin seeds around in the pan and allow them to toast for about 2-3 minutes.
- Once toasted, remove them from the pan and set them aside. They will be used later in the recipe.
- Be sure to store the toasted cumin seeds in a dry bowl or plate, so they don’t get soggy. The idea is to have them crunchy when we use them in the end.
Cooking the Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry
To start the cooking process:
- Add the olive oil to the pan. Let it heat up and once it’s ready, add one tablespoon of whole cumin seeds, 6 whole black pepper, and 2 whole cardamom pods to the pan and allow them to pop. Again you will smell that earthy flavour as the spices pop.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and chili to the pan and cook them for about 3-4 minutes or until the moisture has disappeared and they have browned.
- Add the chicken thighs to the pan and toss them in so that they are coated with the garlic mix.
- Add salt to taste and cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes allowing the rawness of the chicken to disappear.
- Once the chicken has started to turn whitish, we know it’s cooked enough and we can move on to the next step.
Flavouring the Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry
Let’s add the spices:
- Add the garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric, and chili powder to the chicken.
- Mix everything well and coat the meat with the dry spices.
- In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and the water and add that to the pan. Again, toss well to coat everything with the yogurty liquid.
- As soon as you mix the yogurt in, you will see the colour change and turn into a deep reddish-yellow.
- Now, we can turn the heat down to low on the stove and allow the jeera chicken curry to simmer on low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
- Mix it often to prevent it from burning.
- Allow it to cook until most of the liquid to evaporate and enjoy the curry.
Just before serving, sprinkle some fresh coriander and the dry roasted cumin seeds onto the Kenyan jeera chicken curry.:
- Flatbread – there are so many varieties of flatbread that can be enjoyed with this recipe. Try naan, roti, paratha, or plain tortilla wraps.
- Rice – there are so many rice dishes that can be enjoyed with this recipe as well. Try plain basmati rice, pilau, rice, and peas.
- Salad – salads are a great combo when it comes to curries. They offer a freshness that goes very well with the spice combo.
- Yogurt – I love having a side of yogurt raita, or tzatziki with my curries. they too offer a freshness that goes really well with all the spices.
How can I store my Jeera Chicken?
I tend to make extra every time I make jeera chicken and store it in the fridge in an air tight container. It can last for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the chicken in a pan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Heat it until it comes to a near boil. Enjoy it as if it were fresh.
Tried and Liked the Recipe?
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Kenyan Style Jeera Chicken CurryCourse: EntreeCuisine: KenyanDifficulty: Easy
This scrumptious Kenyan jeera chicken curry is made with fresh garlic, ginger, and a bunch of whole and ground aromatic spices.
4 tablespoons olive oil (or oil of choice)
6 whole black peppercorns
2 whole green cardamom pods
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
1 red chili (or green)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (divided)
8 boneless skinless chicken breast
salt to taste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version)
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
- Finely chop the garlic, ginger, and chili and set aside.
- Chop the chicken thighs into bite size pieces and set them aside in a separate bowl.
- Heat a large pan and once it’s heated enough, add one teaspoon of whole cumin seeds to the pan and dry roast them for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to smell earthy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Pour the oil into the same pan and allow it to heat up. Add the remaining cumin seeds, whole black pepper, and whole cardamom pods to the pan and allow them to pop – about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic, ginger, and chili to the pan and allow them to cook for 2-3 minutes or until they brown.
- Add the chicken and toss so that it’s well coated.
- Add salt to taste and toss the chicken, so the salt is evenly distributed.
- Cook the chicken until most of the rawness is gone and it’s mostly white looking.
- Add the remaining spices – garam masala, turmeric, red chili powder, and ground coriander to the pan. Toss to coat the chicken.
- Mix the water and yogurt together and add that liquid to the pan. Toss the chicken again to ensure that all of the chicken is coated with the liquid.
- Turn the heat down and allow the chicken to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or so. Stir from time to time to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once the liquid has mostly dried up, it’s ready to be enjoyed.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves and the dry roasted cumin seeds you had set aside.
- Enjoy with a side of roti, naan, or rice.
Yes, you can use breast, or even drum sticks. I have even bought a whole bird and chopped it into pieces and used that. In fact, bone in meat always tends to taste better and doesn’t dry out. If using breast, do not overcook it, or it will dry out.
You can marinate the chicken in yogurt, salt, and pepper to ensure it stays moist. Remove it from the yogurt and cook it and then add the yogurt as the recipe suggests. If you do this, use 1/2 yogurt instead of just 4 tablespoons.
Generally chicken cooks very fast. If you are using breast, once it turns whitish, it’s almost cooked. Cook it for a little longer and if you can stick a toothpick into it without too much trouble, it’s cooked enough.
If you are cooking bone in meat, the meat will start to fall off or separate from the bone and you know it’s cooked.