Chicken Kalya

Chicken kalya
Chicken Kalya

Chicken Kalya is a Pakistani chicken curry that has the most gorgeous deep, rich flavour that comes from the caramelized onions but is actually very light and surprisingly easy to prepare.

The first time I had ever tasted or even heard of this dish was on a sunny Sunday out at the beach in Durban, South Africa. My mon’s friend had come fully prepared with a picnic basket that contained this amazing curry and I have been wanting to recreate it ever since.

It’s taken me a few years to actually get started but I’ve finally come up with a version that is so moreish and satisfying, it will have you hooked.

Let’s get cooking…

The process seems to be a bit arduous but it’s a lot of idle time in between. The key here is to marinade the chicken for as long as possible so that the flavour is really infused and the meat is meltingly tender. First up, fry your sliced onions until golden and crisp. You’ll know that you’re on the right track with the onions because the smell that permeates throughout the kitchen is heavenly. While the onions are frying you can start to mix together the other ingredients for the marinade. Add in the onions when they are ready and toss everything together to coat all the pieces of chicken with the herbs, spices and yoghurt. Pop into the fridge and forget about it for at least 4 hours or overnight if you can.

 When you’re ready to cook, begin by peeling and halving the potatoes. Toss them with oil and salt and roast until tender. This step usually requires frying but I find that roasting is a lot healthier, less messy and time consuming and it produces the same results as oven roasting. You’re after a crisp exterior and fluffy, soft interior. Next boil a few eggs.

While these are roasting, start braising the kalya. Add whole spices to the oil that you fried the onions in, this adds even more flavour to the dish. Then add in the marinated chicken with all of the marinade. Cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly and adding a little water if the sauce dries out too much before the meat is cooked, the marinade should create a lovely thick sauce. Once the chicken is cooked add in the boiled eggs and roasted potatoes, toss to coat in the sauce and remove from the heat. This should be served with saffron rice or roti’s to mop up all the luscious gravy.

Alternatives, can be cooked using lamb, or soya pieces for a vegetarian option. The addition of lentils to the sauce would bump up the heartiness and stretch this meal further.

Chicken Kalya

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Rich and deeply satisfying Chicken Kalya


• 1 kg chicken, about 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks
• 1tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp chilli powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp garam masala
• 2 tsp ginger and garlic paste
• 1 tblsp chopped mint
• 1 tblsp chopped coriander
• ½ cup yoghurt
• Salt to taste
• 2 tblsp lemon juice
• 3 tomatoes, grated/pureed
• 1 green chilli
• 2 large onions, thinly sliced and fried then added to the meat mix

• 2 large potatoes, quartered
• 3 boiled eggs
• 3 cardomom pods
• 3 cloves
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. Marinade the chicken with the above ingredients and the onions for a few hours or overnight
  2. Toss the potatoes in 1 tblsp oil and salt and roast for 40-50 minutes until cooked and golden
  3. Add whole spices to the oil that you fried the onion in then add the meat mixture
  4. Cook on a low heat until fully cooked but not dry. There should be a lovely thick sauce
  5. Add in the roasted potatoes and boiled eggs and toss with the gravy
  6. Serve with saffron rice or rotis

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