Pakistani Potato Chicken Curry

Yield: 4 servings

Cook Time: 1 hour

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This recipe starts with a luscious sauce of onions, tomatoes, and whole spices.
A full-blown fragrance explosion! Goes well with rice, roti, or paratha.



½ cup oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, in quarters
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 to 3 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod
1 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaf
10 oz chicken
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups water
Fresh cilantro (for garnish at end)


1. Heat the ½ cup of oil in a medium saucepan. Add diced onions. Once onions are browning at the edges, turning translucent, and releasing fragrance, add the tomatoes.

2. On medium heat, let the tomatoes wilt with the onions. The tomato peels should start coming off. Keep stirring the onions and tomatoes until it starts looking like a thick sauce.

3. Add powdered and whole spices except the bay leaves: all of the cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, and half of your minced garlic and ginger. Stir and cook the spices with the onions and tomatoes. You should be experiencing a full-blown fragrance explosion.

4. Once the mix turns reddish-brown and the oil starts separating from the sauce, add the chicken and the remaining garlic and ginger. Stir and coat the chicken with the sauce on high flame. Once the chicken begins to brown, add 1 cup water and continue stirring. 

5. Once the water begins to boil, turn down the heat and continue stirring 4-5 minutes. 

6. Then, add diced potatoes and and the rest of the water. Continue stirring for 5-6 minutes on medium heat. 

7. Add bay leaves, turn heat to low and cover. Let the pot simmer for 12-14 minutes or until potatoes achieve desired consistency.

8. It’s ready when the chicken is fully cooked through and falling apart. The salan (sauce) should be a reddish brown and medium-thick consistency – not a thick stew but also not a thin soup.

9. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with rice, roti, or paratha.

Recipe by Tehmina Brohi

“Inspired by the shared histories and fusion of our respective cultures, my Jamaican American friend Zach and I collaborated to make two different versions of the same classic household recipe we both grew up with. Both recipes evoke memories of our mothers’ & grandmothers’ heartwarming home-cooking. We were excited to explore these recipes together and traverse time and space by sharing our memories and stories of the dish and the ingredients used.

The funny (and at times, highly annoying) thing about South Asian food in the West is that everything is a curry. The Pakistani dish presented here is called Salan in Urdu—which basically means any dish with meat or veggies with a runny onion-tomato based sauce. The closest and most relatable translation to it in English is…curry. The Pakistani dish presented here, however, is technically not a curry because it does not make use of the curry leaf or curry powder. The Jamaican recipe, on the other hand, is indeed a curry because it starts with a curry powder fry as its base. We thought it important to point that out.” Editor’s note: For the Jamaican variation on the same dish, see Curry Chicken.

TEHMINA BROHI is a Pakistani-born, NYC-cultivated citizen of the world. She is also the founder of Istani, a handcrafted apparel and lifestyle brand inspired by her Pakisani heritage and designed for people of hyphenated and multicultural identities. As an entrepreneur and artist, Tehmina is most excited to work on projects that weave together cultures, traditions, and stories—across time and across the planet.

Jan 22, 2021. Photo by Tehmina Brohi.

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