Chicken pasanda is a mild and creamy chicken curry made with tangy yogurt and fragrant with warming spices. On the table in 30 minutes, this delicious and easy Indian chicken curry recipe is loved by both kids and adults!
What is pasanda?
Originating in the Indian subcontinent, the urde word ‘pasande’ means favourite, which refers to the use of prime cuts of meat from either lamb or goat originally used in this curry. The meat is marinated in yogurt and various spices before being cooked with onions and cinnamon, and varying other spices. It is mild, creamy with a slight tang from the yogurt. The addition of ground almonds /almond meal makes a ‘Badaam Pasanda’ as Badaam means almonds. Cream is often used in a pasanda curry, but we prefer making chicken curry with coconut milk instead to add the creaminess. Making pasanda with chicken breast cuts down the time and cost of making the curry, but the process and flavourings are the same.
Why we love this recipe
- Dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
- This mild curry is kid friendly – my 4 year old son loves pasanda chicken!
- It’s not just a hit with kids, this chicken curry is popular with people who prefer milder curries (as well as those who do like spice!)
- Making homemade curry from scratch is a great way to control the heat and spices and make it exactly to your tastes! The list of spices may look long but they are all common spices you will use in a variety of recipes.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Vegetable oil – or another neutral flavoured oil such as canola oil is best for this recipe. You can substitute with traditional ghee instead if you prefer.
- Onion – brown onion or red onion (I love the sweetness from red onion)
- Chicken breast – I also like to make this recipe with skinned chicken thighs chopped in to bite size pieces.
- Yogurt – plain natural yogurt, use full fat yogurt otherwise the sauce will split.
- Spices – apart from the optional chilli powder, none of the spices in this recipe is hot and ‘spicy’ they are more fragrant: ground cumin and ground coriander, turmeric and black pepper. Garam masala is added after cooking.
- Coconut milk – use full fat coconut milk otherwise your sauce can split.
- Tomato puree – if you are in the UK or Australia use tomato puree. If you are in America, use tomato paste.
- Ground almonds – almond flour / almond meal. I use blanched almond meal.
How to make this recipe
- Cut the chicken breast in to thin bite size pieces, then mix with yogurt, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, black pepper and salt. Leave to marinade for 15 minutes.
- Fry the onion in the oil with the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves.
- When the onion is soft add tomato puree, ginger and garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add the marinaded chicken and any extra marinade and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
- Mix in the ground almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes then it’s ready to serve!
Chicken pasanda is tangier than a korma thanks to the addition of yogurt. Pasanda is milder than a korma, but that shouldn’t mean it’s any less packed with flavour.
No, a pasanda is warm and fragrant rather than spicy.
My recipe tips
- Serving this curry to kids: I take the whole cardamom pods and cloves out just before adding the chicken breast pieces. Once the chicken and marinade is added to the pan it can make it more difficult to see these spices and fish them out. Biting in to a whole spice is a sure fire way of putting a kid off their dinner! Extra tip: as this curry contains turmeric, if your child is young make sure to wear dark or old clothes as turmeric can stain cloth yellow!
- This recipe is mild to cater for younger kids. If you want a little more spice then increase the chilli powder amount slightly.
- Steamed rice and homemade chapatis (this chapati recipe is so easy!) or naan bread.
- Mango chutney, coriander chutney and raita.
- Sprinkle with fresh coriander and toasted flaked almonds, or cubes of fresh tomato.
- Fridge – cool the chicken curry then store in the fridge for up to a day. Gently reheat in a pan until piping hot all the way through. The sauce can thicken in the fridge, so you may need to add a little more coconut milk or add a splash of chicken stock.
- Freeze – yogurt can become grainy in the freezer, but if you do want to freeze this pasanda recipe (and I often do) then cool the curry and freeze as soon as possible. Defrost in the fridge overnight then cook in a pan on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot all the way through. You may need to add a little more coconut milk or stock to thin the curry.
- Nut free curry – you can leave the ground almonds out if you prefer, just be aware that your curry won’t be quite as thick.
- Mild curry – leave out the chilli powder altogether.
- Make a vegetarian pasanda by using cauliflower instead of chicken
- Extra veggies – add a few lightly blanched cauliflower florets to the chicken curry when you add the coconut milk, or stir through a handful of baby spinach leaves with the ground almonds.
More chicken dinner recipes for you
- 500g (17.5 oz) chicken breast cut into bite size pieces or strips (approx 3 small-medium chicken breasts)
- 5 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon mild chilli powder optional, use less or more depending on spice level you want
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- 3 cm (1.2 inches) fresh ginger finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon tomato puree
- 125 ml (½ c) coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Finely chop the chicken and place in a medium bowl.
- Add the yogurt, ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder (if using), turmeric, ground black pepper and salt. Stir well to combine and leave to marinade for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile cook the onion. Fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat with the cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves until soft.
- Add ginger, garlic and tomato puree and stir then cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken and the marinade and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
- Stir though the ground almonds and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle with garam masala and serve with rice or chapati.