Top chicken dishes of India

India is not only a great holiday destination but also has mouth watering dishes to offer. Apart from a large number of vegetarian dishes, India has large number of chicken dishes that can be considered the best in the world. No wonder, more Indian restaurants than ever before are coming up all over the world. Although, many people in India are vegetarians, there is significant appetite for chicken dishes. In fact, some of the best chicken preparations are from India.

It is thought that the domesticated chicken came to India around 2000 BC ago from the South East supposedly from Malaysia where it was first domesticated from the fusion of 2 varieties of foul. It is from India where the chicken was then exported to Africa and Europe. It then went to the Americas with the Spanish adventurers. Thanks to the British colonialism, the great culinary traditions of India, chicken dishes in particular were then exported to the rest of the world that still continues to rule the world.

Popular Indian chicken dishes that you must try;

Butter Chicken

This dish first originated in Delhi, the capital of India. It is thought that the chef who created this dish forgot to buy enough ingredients and ended up creating the dish with lots of butter, tomato and spices. The dish is traditionally served with naan, chapattis or steamed rice.

Chicken Tandoori

Chicken Tandoori
Chicken Tandoori

The dish is prepared by marinating chicken in yogurt, lemon juice, spices and cooked in a tandoor (a clay oven) at temperatures that can reach up to 500 degree Celsius. Visually, it’s similar to kebabs and barbecues. The origin of the Chicken Tandoori is in Peshawar which is now in Pakistan. It is often eaten as side dish or as a starter. Nowadays, you’ll find them on pizza toppings.

Chicken Tikka Masala

This dish is perhaps the most popular of all Indian chicken preparations. Most Indian restaurants serving meat would have this dish. The dish is so popular in Britain that it has become the unofficial “national dish”. It consists of small pieces of marinated chicken cooked in a coconut based sauce with tomato and coriander. The dish has its origins in the Punjab and today it’s has been dubbed as the most popular Indian dish in the world.

Mughlai Chicken

The word Mughlai represents a style of cooking with origins dating from the invasion of India by the Mughals in 1526 (direct descendants of Genghis Khan). Hence, when you encounter the dishes such as Mughlai Chicken, Mughlai Parathas, Mughlai Pulao and so on; think of the imperial dishes of the Mughal rulers of India. This dish is cooked in thick double cream sauce and goes well with rice.

Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh
Rogan Josh

Traditionally this is a lamb dish with origins in Persia but its extremely popular in Kashmir in Northern India. It was originally brought to India by the Mughal invaders. But many restaurants now serve chicken version of this dish too. It is cooked in high heat where chicken or lamb is mixed with gravy of onions, yoghurt, garlic, ginger and other spices. The reason for its “red” colour is because of large quantities of chillies in it. Hence, this dish is not for those who cannot tolerate hot food.

Chicken Dhansak

This Indian dish has its origins in Persia where either chicken or lamb is used for its preparation. It’s traditionally cooked in lentils and goes well with rice.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani
Chicken Biryani

This is perhaps one of the most popular chicken dish in India. Biryani’s are cooked in rice with pieces of chicken. The dish in particular is famous in many parts of the world. It is interesting to note that there are international varieties of this dish for instance there is Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Malaysian, Mauritian and Indonesian Biryanis. You’ll be surprised to know that there is a Filipino version as well called the “Nasing Biringyi”.

Chilli Chicken

This Indo-Chinese dish is a popular dish in India. As most Indians like chillies it appeals to the Indian palate. As the name suggests, this is an extremely hot dish cooked with plenty of chillies. There’s a vegetarian version of this dish cooked from paneer (Indian cottage cheese) that’s as good as the chicken version. Chilli chicken is well complemented with chowmein noodles.

Chicken Do Pyaza

If you like onions then you are going to love this exotic chicken dish. An authentic Punjabi dish by origin; chunks of preferably boneless chicken are cooked with lot of fried onions. An ideal do payza dish would contain equal amounts or even more of onions then chicken hence the name “chicken do pyaza”.

Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma
Chicken Korma

This is another popular of all chicken dishes of India of Turkish origin. Great thing is about this dish is that it’s a lot milder in taste compared to other dishes. Another interesting point is that vegetables can also be prepared in the Korma style. This dish happens to be extremely popular in British restaurants as it goes well with beer and British palate.

Murgh Musallam

This is the most popular chicken dish in North West India and Pakistan. The word “mugh” here means chicken and “musallam” means masala (spices). It could also mean Musalman (Muslim) but that’s pure speculative on my behalf. Large chunks or whole chicken is cooked with dry fruits stuffed inside it. Stuffed chicken is marinated overnight in yogurt and then cooked with cumin seeds and cream in the traditional Indian way. The dish goes well with naan bread and rice. Lahore in Pakistan would be the best place to try this dish.

Saag Chicken

This dish is a combination of chicken and lots of “saag” or spinach. It’s a nutritious dish especially for those children who are fussy about vegetables. I prefer this dish with chapattis or parathas. Another variation of this dish is its vegetarian counterpart the “saag paneer”.

Chicken Vindaloo

Although the British Bangladeshi restaurants likes to claim fame for this dish, the reality is that this dish has its origins in Goa of Anglo-Indian Portuguese origin. Traditionally vindaloo was made in lamb but chicken was introduced to cater for those who did not eat lamb. Meat is marinated overnight in palm vinegar, chillies, sugar, ginger and Indian spices and then cooked the following day with further spices. The dish is famed for its hot and fiery taste that goes well with beer.

Indian Chicken Curry

Tradition Chicken Curry
Tradition Chicken Curry

We can’t really complete the list with this amazing evergreen dish. Basically I like to think of the rest of the other curried chicken dishes as one big family of dishes under this banner. However some chefs like to call it a dish in its own right. Here’s a brief method on making this dish. First, fry onions with cumin seeds until golden brown, and then add the pieces of chicken and further fry till they have become brown. Add curry spices, chopped tomatoes, salt, garlic, ginger, and coriander and fry till water is released from the chicken, then add water and heat until cooked.

Remember Indians do not beef due to religious purposes hence most Indian restaurants would not serve them if they happen to be run by Hindus. Similarly, if the restaurant is run by a Muslim, you’re not going to find pork. This does not mean that you cannot get beef or pork in India; it’s not as openly sold as chicken and other meat.

My personal belief is that out of all the meat dishes of India has to offer, chicken dishes are perhaps the best. My personal favourite dish out of the ones mentioned is the Chicken Tikka Masala. I have been to several countries on holiday and I have been able to find this dish on most menus in Indian restaurants. Chicken Briyani is another one of my favourites, it’s easy to cook at home and children love it. Feel free to try all of them, they are equally good.

Out of all these Indian chicken dishes, which ones have your tried and which ones you liked the most? If you have not tried them, which one would you like to try?

Make Chicken Tikka Masala at home

Top 10 foods to try when in India

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