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. Having grown up in Kenya, I was lucky enough to have had the pleasure of enjoying and learning all about these recipes and flavours. This 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. This recipe calls for whole cumin seeds that are toasted / roasted and sprinkled on top of the curry to give it a delicious crunch.
The Ingredients for Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry
No need for onions, or tomatoes. This curry 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 chicken thighs (or bone in if preferable)
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 whole green cardamom pods (or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version)
- 4 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup water
The difference between this curry and any other Indian curry is that it does not use onions or tomatoes. 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
Heat a large pan and bring it to medium heat. Do not add anything to it. Add half the whole 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 them around in the pan and allow them to toast for about 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set them aside. They will be used later in the recipe. Be sure to store them in a dry bowl or plate, so they don’t get soggy. The idea is to have the crunchy when we use them in the end.
Cooking the Kenyan Jeera Chicken Curry
Now we can add the olive oil to the pan. Let it heat up and once it’s ready, add the remaining whole cumin seeds, whole black pepper, and whole cardamom pods to the pan and allow them to pop. Again you will smell that earthy flavour, but a slightly more pungent smell as they 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.
Next, 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 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
Add the garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric, and chili powder to the pan. Mix everything well and coat the meat with the dry spices. Mix the yogurt into the water and add that to the pan. Again, toss well to coat everything with the yogurty liquid. Immediately, you will see the colour change and turn into a deep reddish-yellow colour. Turn the heat down 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 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. Enjoy with a side of roti, naan, or rice.
Here is a list of my favourite accompaniments for this 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.
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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 (or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder)
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
1 jalapeno pepper (or chili of choice)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (divided)
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
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 tablespoon butter
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. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?
How do you ensure the chicken is moist in curry?
How do you know the chicken is cooked?
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.
Check out other Entree recipes here.