Sylheti-style Chicken Curry

I really shouldn’t riff off The Curry Guy‘s recipes, since his are the best match for what you’ll find in a UK curry restaurant. But … I had chicken thighs, not beef; and grapefruit, not shatkora. So I’ve altered his Sylheti Beef recipe (p126).

This is a no-muss, no-fuss, no-marinading sweet ‘n sour curry which uses easily-available ingredients – and it’s totally awesome.

Serves: 4

For the curry:

  • 900g – 1kg chicken thighs, skin removed (approx 4-5); with or without bones as you prefer
  • Rapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 black, or 4 green, cardamom pods; lightly bashed until they open
  • 2 medium onions (red, brown, or mixed); chopped mid-way between finely and coarsely
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed with a large pinch of salt into a rough paste
  • 2″ fresh ginger root, grated (no need to peel)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 600ml stock (chicken stock is best, but veg or beef stock will work)
  • 1/8 grapefruit, chopped into small pieces (flesh and rind both);
    or, 1/4 unwaxed lime, chopped into small pieces (flesh and rind both)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced lengthwise then sliced into half-moons
  • 150g green beans, trimmed, and sliced into 2″ lengths
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar (or light muscavado / soft light brown sugar)

For serving:

  • Cooked rice
  • Garam masala
  • Fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped


  • Oven-safe plate
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • Grater
  • Small bowls for prepped ingredients
  • Large, heavy stockpot (10″ / 26cm width, and 4&1/2″ / 12cm deep or so), with lid
  • Tongs


  1. Preheat your oven to 50 C with an oven-safe plate in. Prep the cardamom, onion, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, carrot, and beans and put into small bowls.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot on a high heat. Put in the skinned chicken thighs, and turn regularly with tongs to allow them to brown evenly all over: about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the chicken thighs onto the warmed plate in the oven to rest.
  4. Add 2 more tablespoons oil to the pot. Put in the bashed cardamom pods, and let them sizzle for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the chopped onions, turn down the heat to medium, and let them cook for 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly.
  6. Add the crushed garlic and grated ginger to the pot, stirring for a minute or so. Add the tomato paste and the ground spices, and fry for another minute, stirring all the while.
  7. Put 1/3 (200ml) of the stock into the pot. Add the chicken thighs and any resting juices (turn off the oven), and turn the hob heat back up to high. Boil for 2-3 minutes, turning the meat regularly. Then add the remaining stock (400ml) plus the chopped grapefruit and carrot.
  8. Once back to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring and turning the meat occasionally. Remove the lid and continue simmering another 15 minutes.
  9. Add the greens beans and sugar, stir, and bring back to the boil; reduce the heat to low and leave simmering for another 10-15 minutes with the lid off to thicken the sauce.
  10. To serve, put cooked rice on plates / in bowls, and spoon the curry over. You could chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces if you prefer. Sprinkle each serving with garam masala and chopped fresh coriander to garnish.

Alternate Serving
You could also serve this delicious Sylheti-style curry with my Chickpea Curry.


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