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chicken curry – regional differences?

I have eaten a lot of chicken curry, and can follow a recipe, but don’t know how to identify recipes of different states, or how to improvise within a regional recipe without breaking it.

Is there a set of guidelines (spices and preparation techniques) that obviously identifies a Punjabi chicken curry versus Bengali versus Andhra versus Kashmiri?

[Edit: what are the essential “must haves” and “must not haves” of different regional chicken curries?]

2 thoughts on “chicken curry – regional differences?

  1. I suppose it all comes down the the garam masala — the base spice mix of the dish, that is. Every Indian house will make their own, and no two houses’ garam masala will be exactly the same, but there are some regional typicalities to look out for, I guess.

    For instance, the main staples in a garam masala are cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, and bay leaves (NB: bay leaves Indians use are the leaves of the cinnamon tree, not the leaves of the Mediterranean bay tree — you can find the real deal online), but in the south you might find star anise or black cardamom added.

    Plus, there are other ingredients that different regions’ food will be characterized by. In Kashmir, of course, they use Kashmiri chillies: they can be found online, and are used for colour and flavour more than heat. Kashmir is also where a lot of saffron comes from so that may well inform their dishes (perhaps not just a regular chicken curry, though). In fact, a Kashmiri curry may not contain tomatoes, since they can be hard to grow in Kashmir, so that’s a pretty defining feature.

    South Indian curries are defined by a lot of grated coconut mainly, but also curry leaves and fresh green chillies.

    My dad’s from Kolkata, and the big Bengali obsession (apart from fish, which is the biggest) is mustard. Mustard seeds are used quite a bit, but mustard oil is what really announces a dish as Bengali. Apart from online, you can usually only find bottles of it in the hair care aisle, where it will be labelled “for external use only” — you can ignore that, it’s fine for cooking.

    White poppy seeds as well, the Bengalis love them; aloo posto is something you can’t go back from. Errrm what else…Punjabis use a lot of methi (fenugreek) leaves, I think? Apart from all that, I’d suggest checking out recipes online ( and are good places to start — use vahchef’s YouTube channel rather than his site) and get a feel for what’s what.

    Good luck, and share what you find!

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