This Instant Pot Chicken Curry recipe is a family favorite! Made with a base of onions, tomatoes, yogurt and cashews. This curry can be made in the pressure cooker and on the stovetop.
Indian households are incomplete without a stove-top pressure cooker. The kind that lets off steam with a shrill whistle. We are conditioned to check for done-ness of meat or lentils or rice not by the amount of cooking time, but by the number of whistles let off by the cooker.
As a kid, that whistle meant one thing – my mom’s chicken curry was getting done. Modern pressure cooking has come a long way from the traditional stove-top pressure cooker. I’m equal parts nostalgic about the sound of the whistle, and at the same time, glad that my cooker doesn’t whistle and shatter the peace in my Swiss neighborhood.
Over the years, I’ve eaten my way through, and cooked up countless chicken curries. And there are so many versions, that a lifetime most definitely isn’t enough to attempt every single one.
I love a good butter chicken, kadhai chicken, chicken tikka masala, chicken chettinad – these are timeless classic recipes. Then there are the lesser known regional versions of chicken curry, each version highlighting the spices and flavors of the region that they originate from, and each dish a masterpiece in its own right. But, this post isn’t about those curries, it is about my family’s favorite chicken curry.
This recipe doesn’t really claim to be authentic to any region in India. It is literally a medley of flavors that I enjoy from different regional cuisines, and I find that it makes for a fantastic meal. It has become our family’s favorite go-to recipe for chicken curry.
I use a combination of yogurt, ground cashews, tomatoes, onions, and my favorite spice mix – my home-made garam masala to make this recipe. This Instant Pot chicken curry is ideally made in the Instant Pot but can also be made on the stove top, although the stove-top version will require more monitoring.
How to cook chicken in a pressure cooker:
Chicken curry is perfectly suitable for cooking in the pressure cooker. Using an electric pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot is ideal, you can control the pressure level and make chicken curry in lesser time than on the stovetop.
We start by making the curry base of onions, ginger-garlic paste and tomatoes. For this step, heat ghee in the Instant Pot, and once it is hot, add the onions. I blend the onions together to form a paste. You could use chopped onions as well. Add the ginger-garlic paste, followed by the tomatoes.
After cooking the onions and tomatoes, add the spice powders and combine. An important step here is to ensure that there is no residue left at the bottom of the Instant Pot. If there are any bits sticking to the base, use a spatula to remove them. Not doing so can lead to the ‘Food Burn’ message being triggered. Add the chicken and yogurt and cook on Pressure Cook mode for 6 minutes.
Once pressure cooked, add in cashew paste, tomato paste, salt to season and stir. At the end, you can add a little cream – this adds to the richness of the curry and balances the flavors well.
How long to pressure cook chicken
You can use fresh or frozen, boneless or bone-in chicken for this recipe. The pressure-cooking time will vary with the type of meat you are using here.
- Boneless fresh chicken: Pressure Cook 6 minutes, Natural Pressure release for 5 minutes, followed by quick release
- Boneless frozen chicken: Pressure Cook 9 minutes, Natural Pressure release for 5 minutes, followed by quick release
- Bone-in fresh chicken: Pressure cook 9 minutes, Natural Pressure release for 5 minutes, followed by quick release
Tips for cooking chicken curry:
Follow these tips to make sure your chicken curry comes out perfect:
- Make your own ginger-garlic paste by blending together 1/3 cup of garlic and 1/2 cup of ginger along with 1 teaspoon oil in a spice grinder or blender. Keep a jar of the paste in the fridge and use as needed.
- Make your own garam masala: Try to use fresh, whole spices and grind them to make your preferred spice mix. This is my go-to recipe for garam masala: In a pan on the stove-top, heat the following spices: 2 tablespoons cup fennel seeds, 5-6 cardamoms, 6-7 cloves, a 2 inch piece cinnamon, 2-3 pieces of mace. Once the spices are heated and begin releasing their aromas, grind them in a high power blender, or coffee grinder. Store the ground spice mix in an air-tight jar and use as needed.
- Make the curry ahead: If you are planning to make this curry for a party, make this ahead at least a day in advance, exercise a bit of restraint and refrigerate the curry. Chicken curry always tastes better the next day, when the spices get time to settle and the meat has matured and developed a deeper flavor.
If you like this recipe, you would also like these easy curry recipes :
Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- 8 chicken legs and thighs skinless, bone-in
- 2 teaspoons ghee
- 2 red onions blended to a paste
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- 1 cup yogurt full fat
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1.5 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust this as per your taste
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts blended to a paste
- 1/3 cup cream (optional)
- 1/4 cup Coriander leaves to garnish
- Turn the IP to ‘Saute’ mode in the ‘More’ setting.
- To the IP, add the ghee and the onion paste. Saute the onion paste until the moisture escapes and the paste turns begins to brown slightly. This will take around 7-10 minutes.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, and continue to saute the mixture for two minutes. Ensure that the paste doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and brown.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to saute for an additional 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Once the tomatoes and the onion paste are cooked down, add the garam masala, turmeric powder, red chili powder and stir it to combine well.
- Add the chicken pieces and mix well, until the chicken is well coated in the spiced tomato-onion mixture.
- Add the yogurt and stir to combine.
- Put on the lid of the IP, and with the vent in 'sealing' position, switch to 'Manual' mode, in 'High' setting. Set the time for 9 minutes. Let the chicken pressure cook, and let the steam release naturally for 5 minutes. After this, perform a quick release of pressure
- Once the steam has released, open the lid of the IP and gently stir the chicken.
- Switch to 'Saute' mode (in the 'More' setting), add the tomato paste, cashew nut paste, salt and stir to combine.
- Finally, add the cream if you want to make your gravy thicker and cut through the tangy taste of the tomatoes. Stir to combine, and turn off the IP.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice or rotis (wholewheat flatbread).
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