How to Cook An Amazing Authentic Chicken Handi
If you love Indian food you’ll be head over heels for this authentic Chicken Handi. I’ve adapted a recipe from the excellent Curry Guy with a few adaptions and additions.
If you want a curry that’s as authentic as anything you’ll find in the best British Indian Restaurants and is easy to make, this Chicken Handi recipe is for you.
Serve with chapatis (recipe below).
The name Handi comes from the cooking pot that is used to cook this curry, often on an open fire. However, you can use a large, deep frying pan or, as I do, a Le Creuset style “Dutch Oven” pot.
Chicken Handi Recipe Ingredients
These ingredients should make enough Handi for about 2 or 3 people. I usually double up and freeze half of the resulting curry for another day.
You can add more chilli powder or chillis depending on how spicy you like your curry.
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 black cardamom (crushed, optional)
- 1 king pepper corn (optional)
- 1 large onion (sliced, red adds a little more colour)
- 2 medium tomatoes (heritage have more flavour)
- 1/2 red or green bell pepper
- 1 green chilli (add more if you prefer more heat)
- 1/2 cup of spice stock (see below) or vegetable stock
- 3 boneless, skinned chicken thighs or 2 breasts (thighs add more flavour)
- A splash of Henderson’s relish (optional, use Worcestershire sauce if you must)
- 1 tbsp ghee (use rape seed oil or olive oil with some butter if you don’t have ghee)
- 3-4 tbsp plain or Greek yoghurt (whisked, which will help it blend with the curry without lumps)
- 1 tbsp thick cream (optional, sour cream is great for this or just use double cream).
- Salt & Pepper to season
- Fresh coriander and Garam Masala to garnish
Preparing the Chicken
Cut the chicken into sizeable chunks.
Marinade the chicken over night or at least for a few hours with some ginger, garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder and garam masala.
Heat about a tablespoon of ghee, butter and/or oil and quickly fry the chicken to brown it in the pan or pot. Remove the chicken once it starts to brown.
Create the Handi Curry BAse
In the same pan, with the hot chicken juices (add and heat a little more ghee or oil if needed), turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and fry for about 15 minutes until slightly crispy but not burnt.
Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir then add the cumin seeds and stir again. Fry for 30 seconds being careful not to burn the garlic as it will turn bitter. The cumin seeds will smell wonderful.
Now add the chopped tomatoes, chilli and bell pepper. Add the dry spices, mix it all together and then let them gently cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from burning. You should end up with a mushy, deliciously smelling curry base.
Now add the browned chicken and stir. Then add the spice stock or vegetable stock. Add a splash of Henderson’s relish or similar (e.g. Worcestershire sauce). Give it a good stir then bring the mixture back to a simmer and cover the pot or pan. Adjust the heat so the mixture is gently bubbling and not drying out. Cook for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and still tender. Stir occasionally. If the mixture starts to stick to the bottom, add a little wine which will de glaze the pan and add flavour.
Whilst the curry cooks, you can prepare the Chapattis (see below).
Getting Ready to Serve
When the chicken is cooked through, turn down the heat to its lowest setting.
Carefully add the whisked yoghurt a little at a time, stirring it into the curry base. If you add too much it may form into lumps, in which case give it an enthusiastic stir before adding more.
If you want a creamier curry, add a little cream, again add a little at a time to stop it curdling in the hot sauce.
Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.
Sprinkle fresh coriander on the top, and a teaspoon of Garam Masala to garnish then you’re ready to serve with the warm chapattis.
You can serve this Chicken Handi with rice if you prefer, but personally I think it lends itself to being scooped from the plate with a flat bread and Chapattis are perfect for this and so easy to make.
In a large mixing bowl add a cup of plain flour and a cup of wholemeal flour. Add a pinch of baking powder (optional but I think it makes for better breads), and a pinch of salt.
Mix the flour together and make a well in the middle. Now add about 1/2 cup of cold water a bit at a time and mix everything together with your hands. Keep adding a little water until the mixture comes together into a ball that isn’t sticky but is elasticated.
Cover with some cling film or a cloth and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes (if you need to leave it longer, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge, letting it get to room temperature again before you use it later).
When you’re ready to cook the Chapattis, heat a large, heavy bottomed frying pan so it is very hot. There’s a bit of am art to getting the heat right, so experiment. If the breads are burning, turn the heat down a little. If they’re not browning within a minute or so, turn the heat up a little.
When the dough has rested, break off a small ball and flatten it with the palm of your hand onto a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out so that it is no more than a few millimetres thick.
Put the rolled Chappati into the hot frying pan and move it around with your fingers a little (if the pan is hot enough it won’t stick). Let it cook for about 2 minutes then lift an edge with tongs and if it’s starting to brown flip it over and repeat.
I get a real thrill cooking Chapattis, especially when the trapped air expands and the rise out of the pan as if alive. This means they will be light and fluffy when cooked, with a nice burnt edge where the air bubbles have burst.
HINT: the first Chapatti is often not great and I find preparing the hot frying pan with a small, dummy Chapatti helps. Just make a very small one, place it in the hot pan and using your fingers move it around to ensure the pan is coated. Cook this one then eat it as you work as your reward.
When the Chapatti is cooked, place it on some foil and fold over the foil to keep it warm, then make another.
Making the Spice Stock
Another tip I got from the Curry Guy, which has revolutionised the quality of my homemade curries, is to prepare and freeze batches of spice stock.
If you make a chicken (or lamb) biriyani, or tikka masala, you can cook the meat in boiling water, with some sautéed onions, garlic, ginger, ground cumin, ground turmeric, ground coriander and garam masala. Not only does this make the meat fantastically tender and a wonderful colour, you can then whizz the stock in a blender and freeze it in 1/2 cup batches.
You then add one of these to any curry you make in the future to take its flavour up to the next level.
If you don’t have any spice stock, just substitute with vegetable stock or chicken stock, but believe me once you’ve made a batch of spice stock, there’ll be no turning back!
Authentic Chicken Handi Recipe
As I said at the beginning, I can’t take the credit for this recipe as it’s originally from the wonderful Curry Guy. However, like all good recipes I’ve adapted and added to it slightly. Let me know how you get on and what enhancements you make.
I hope you enjoy it. If so, please read some of my other recipes and travel posts below.