Instant Pot Indian Chicken Curry (Easy, Traditional)

Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are so many things you can do with chicken, but lately, we’ve been loving this simple and traditional North Indian-style chicken curry. Made with everyday pantry ingredients, this quick and easy Indian curry chicken recipe is one more reason you’ll love cooking in your Instant Pot. 

An overhead shot of Indian chicken curry served with naan, rice, lemon wedges and Mango lassi
Indian Chicken Curry made in Instant Pot

Chicken curry, though it finds its origins in India, is a commonly found entree in many parts of the world. That is why there is no standard recipe to make it. Even in India, there are so many variations to this recipe because of cultural/regional influence that no two recipes are alike. 

I grew up in a south Indian household where chicken curries were made with coconut milk like this Mangalorean chicken curry recipe (Kori gassi). They were spicy and creamy and paired well with rutti (rice flakes), rice, or neer dosa

This recipe is different, though. It has a North Indian influence. What I mean by that is marinated chicken is added to a spice-infused onion-tomato gravy and then pressure-cooked together. This results in a soft and moist curry chicken that is bursting with flavors. 

How to make chicken curry Indian style

This authentic Indian chicken curry post will teach you how to create a flavorful and easy chicken curry that rivals any dish you’d find in a high-end Indian restaurant. Ready to get started?

Let’s begin with going through the ingredient list.

Ingredient notes/swaps

  • Chicken drumsticks or skinless chicken thighs – These cuts are more flavorful than chicken breasts.

For the marinade

  • Yogurt – Acts as a tenderizer for the chicken. Use thick yogurt. Greek yogurt will work, too.
  • Lime juice – for a hint of tang and flavor
  • Kashmiri chili powder – Gives a vibrant color and a mild heat. For a spicier kick, you can use regular chili powder or cayenne pepper.
  • Salt – for seasoning
  • Garam masala – This spice blend adds depth and warmth to the dish.
  • Oil –  Use any oil of your choice. I use either avocado oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil.
  • Dried fenugreek leaves, optional – for its aroma

Curry base

  • Oil – Use any oil of your choice. I use either avocado oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil.
  • Whole spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, green cardamom, black peppercorns, whole cloves, fennel seeds
  • Onions and tomatoes – make the base of the curry.
  • Ginger – grated, minced, or in a paste form.
  • Garlic – grated, minced, or in a paste form. Alternatively, you can use ginger garlic paste.
  • Salt – for seasoning
  • Water as needed
  • Fresh cilantro – for garnishing
  • Garam masala – is used as a finishing spice here.

Note: Typically, in Indian cooking, curry powder is not used, but if you don’t have garam masala, you can use it as a substitute.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below.

If you think Indian chicken dishes end up bland when cooked in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker, I have two tips for you. 

  • Saute the chicken before adding any liquid. This gives the meat a chance to brown and add flavor. 
  • Or marinate the chicken for at least 20-30 minutes before pressure cooking it. 

Here are the steps to make this simple chicken curry recipe with yogurt

Chicken curry marinade

  1. Mix yogurt, lime juice, oil, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and fenugreek leaves to prepare the marinade.
  2. Make 3-4 incisions on both sides of the chicken drumstick. These incisions allow the marinade to seep in, making the chicken even more flavorful. 
  3. Coat the chicken drumsticks with the marinade till all pieces are evenly covered. Set it aside for about 20 minutes till you get the curry ready.
A collage of images showing how to marinate chicken

Making chicken curry sauce

  1. Select the Saute setting in the Instant Pot and adjust it to normal.
  2. Add oil, and once it is hot, add all the spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, green cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, and fennel seeds (if using).
  3. Let the spices sizzle in the oil for about 20 seconds or so. Add the chopped onions and let it cook till it is evenly browned (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the minced ginger and garlic. Let them saute for about a minute.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cook till the tomatoes are soft and mushy (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add salt and Kashmiri chili powder and mix well.
  7. Add the marinated chicken to this curry and stir it in. Let it cook in the sauce for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add 1/4 cup water and mix well. Deglaze – use a spatula to dislodge any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  9. Cover the Instant Pot, set the vent to sealing, and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  10. When the cooking cycle is complete, move the vent carefully to the venting position.
  11. Open the lid, add garam masala and mix well.
  12. Garnish the chicken with cilantro leaves and serve hot with plain rice, roti, or naan.
A collage of images depicting how to make Indian chicken curry in Instant Pot

Indian Chicken Curry – step by step

Tips to make the best chicken curry

  1. Marinating chicken: Essential for ensuring the chicken remains moist and infuses it with rich flavors. The marination process allows the spices and yogurt to penetrate deeply into the meat.
  2. Browning onions: Take the time to brown the onions until they are caramelized evenly. This step is crucial as caramelized onions lend a sweet, deep flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dish.
  3. Sautéing chicken: Before pressure cooking, sauté the chicken in the gravy. This technique helps the chicken to soak up the flavors of the spices and base, ensuring a more aromatic and tasty curry.
  4. Choosing the right cut: Opt for bone-in chicken pieces or chicken thighs, as these cuts are more flavorful and tender compared to chicken breasts, enriching the curry with a deeper taste.
  5. Water addition in Instant Pot: Be mindful to add no more than 1/4 cup of water when using an Instant Pot. The moisture from the yogurt and tomatoes will be sufficient. This is important because the Instant Pot doesn’t allow for much evaporation.
  6. Deglazing process: Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom after browning the onions or sautéing the chicken. This will prevent the burn signal from turning on during the pressure cooking process.

Variations

  • Creamy coconut chicken curry – Add about 1/4 cup of coconut milk along with water to make this chicken curry both creamy and south-Indian style. 
  • Prefer it really spicy? Add 1-2 finely chopped green chilies along with minced ginger and garlic to amp up the spice levels in this traditional Indian chicken curry recipe. 
  • Heavy cream – You can add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream before serving, as they do in Indian restaurants.

Serving suggestions

Serve this simple chicken curry with any Indian flatbread, steamed Basmati rice, and cucumber raita for the best results.

Meal prep and storage tips

Meal prepping chicken curry can be both time-saving and convenient. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your meal prep:

  1. Bulk cooking: Make a larger batch of chicken curry than you need for a single meal. This way, you can have multiple servings ready for the week ahead.
  2. Marinate in advance: Prepare your chicken marinade the night before and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight. This deepens the flavors and makes the cooking process quicker.
  3. Prep veggies and spices: Chop all your vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and ginger-garlic in advance. Also, measure out and mix your spices beforehand. Store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
  4. Portion control: Divide the cooked curry into individual serving sizes. This makes it easier to grab a meal on the go and helps with portion control.
  5. Refrigeration: Store the portioned curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, chicken curry can last 3-4 days.
  6. Freezing option: For longer storage, chicken curry freezes well for up to 3 months. Use freezer-safe containers or bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  7. Reheating: Reheat only the portion you plan to eat, either in a microwave or on the stove. Ensure it’s heated thoroughly before consuming.
  8. Serve with pre-cooked grains: Pair your curry with pre-cooked rice. You can cook a batch of grains and store them in the fridge for easy access during the week.
  9. Garnish fresh: If you like your curry with fresh herbs like cilantro, chop these fresh for each meal rather than storing them pre-chopped to maintain their flavor and freshness.
  10. Label your meals: If you’re freezing them, label the containers with the date of cooking. This helps in tracking and utilizing older meals first.

More traditional curry recipes

Craving for some more easy and spicy chicken curry recipes? Here are a few of my favorite ones.

  • Chicken ghee roast – a spicy and tangy chicken curry from Karnataka
  • Chicken Vindaloo – A spicy chicken curry from Goa. 
  • Chettinad chicken curry spicy and aromatic chicken curry from central Tamil Nadu (a state in the Southern part of India)
  • Chicken tikka masala – Making restaurant-style chicken tikka masala at home is easier than you think. Learn how to make this iconic dish in an Instant Pot or stovetop quickly and effortlessly. You’ll never do takeout again!

And don’t forget to check out this extensive list of 30+ Indian curry recipes.

A close up shot of Indian curry chicken served in a gray bowl accompanied with naan and lassi

Whether you’re a seasoned curry lover or new to Indian food, this recipe for an easy chicken curry is a delightful way to explore the rich flavors of Indian curries. So grab your spices from the grocery store and make this recipe!

Did you enjoy this recipe or have a question?Please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to rate!
A close up shot of Indian curry chicken served in a gray bowl accompanied with naan and lassi
Click on the stars to rate!
4.50 from 18 votes

Indian Chicken Curry (Murgh Kari) Recipe

Looking for a simple and authentic chicken curry to make in your Instant Pot? This North Indian-style Chicken curry recipe won’t disappoint. Simple, easy, and flavorful, this chicken dish is a crowd-pleaser. 
Pin Print Save
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 32 minutes
Pressure building time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb chicken drumsticks

For the marinade

For the curry

Instructions
 

  • Mix all the ingredients in the marinade section (yogurt, lime juice, oil, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and fenugreek leaves) to prepare the marinade.
  • Make 3-4 incisions on the chicken drumstick on both sides. These incisions allow the marinade to seep in making the chicken even more flavorful. 
  • Coat the chicken drumsticks with the marinade till all pieces are evenly covered. Set it aside for about 20 minutes till you get the curry ready.

Making the curry

  • Select the Saute setting in the Instant Pot and adjust it to normal.
  • Add oil and once it is hot, add all the spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, green cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves and fennel seeds (if using).
  • Let the spices sizzle in the oil for about 20 seconds or so. Add the chopped onions and let it cook till it is evenly browned (about 10 minutes).
  • Add the minced ginger and garlic. Let them saute for about a minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cook till the tomatoes are soft and mushy (about 10 minutes).
  • Add salt, Kashmiri chili powder and mix well.
  • Add the marinated chicken to this curry and stir it in. Let it cook in the sauce for about 2 minutes.
  • Add 1/4 cup water and mix well. Deglaze – use a spatula to dislodge any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover the Instant Pot, set the vent to sealing and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  • When the cooking cycle is complete, move the vent carefully to the venting position.
  • Open the lid and add garam masala and mix it in.
  • Garnish the chicken with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice, roti or naan.

Notes

Tips for Indian chicken curry recipe

    1. Marinating chicken: Essential for ensuring the chicken remains moist and infuses it with rich flavors. The marination process allows the spices and yogurt to penetrate deeply into the meat.
    2. Browning onions: Take the time to brown the onions until they are caramelized evenly. This step is crucial as caramelized onions lend a sweet, deep flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dish.
    3. Sautéing chicken: Before pressure cooking, sauté the chicken in the gravy. This technique helps the chicken to soak up the flavors of the spices and base, ensuring a more aromatic and tasty curry.
    4. Choosing the right cut: Opt for bone-in chicken pieces or chicken thighs, as these cuts are more flavorful and tender compared to chicken breasts, enriching the curry with a deeper taste.
    5. Water addition in Instant Pot: Be mindful to add no more than 1/4 cup of water when using an Instant Pot. The moisture from the yogurt and tomatoes will be sufficient. This is important because the Instant Pot doesn’t allow for much evaporation.
    6. Deglazing process: Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom after browning the onions or sautéing the chicken. This will prevent the burn signal from turning on during the pressure cooking process. 
Read the post…For helpful information on ingredient swaps, storage tips, meal prep ideas, and variations!

Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Nutrition

Calories: 344kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 16gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 818mgPotassium: 509mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 519IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 94mgIron: 2mg
Diet: Gluten-free, Nut-free
Course: Main Course
Method: Instant Pot
Keywords: easy, Simple, spicy
Cuisine: Indian

This post was originally written on December 30, 2019, and was republished with additional information on Jan 19, 2024.

Get dinner on the table faster!

Learn my meal planning + prepping secrets to make fresh Indian food without spending hours in the kitchen.

An overhead shot of Gujarathi kadhi along with rice, rotis and a side of lemon

FREE EMAIL COURSE

Simmer to slimmer logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. I prepared this on the stove top tonight, it takes a bit longer to cook, but it won’t be eaten till the next day. I left it on a very low heat whilst I went to the gym and when I got back the aroma was gorgeous. We tasted the gravy, and all I can say is WOW. This is the best tasting home made Indian food I think I have ever made. Thank you.

  2. This looks delicious! How do the timings change if I want to use chicken breasts instead of bone in?

    1. Hi Shetal – Chicken breasts should cook in 5 minutes. Release pressure immediately once the cooking cycle is complete.

  3. Hello! I’m really excited to try some of your recipes and I’d like to start with this one 🙂 Under “making the curry” #2 “add all the spices” does that mean I grind them all together and add them? or just add them as they are? Thanks for the the help!

    1. Hi Paul,

      Just add them without grinding. Let me know if you have any other questions. Welcome to my blog 🙂

      Thanks,
      Anushree

  4. The marinade says lemon juice, but then in the description of what to do with marinade in parentheses says “lime” so I’m wondering if people found a difference in taste when all said and done cooking.

    1. Hi Jarita – Thanks for pointing it out. It should be lime juice. I’ll fix the typo. Sorry about the confusion.