Mom’s Chicken Curry – Instant Pot

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Mom’s Chicken Curry – An unbelievably tasty chicken curry with onion-coconut based gravy and earthy, piquant flavors from the turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala!

This chicken curry is a family recipe that I grew up eating many Sundays. Our family mostly ate vegetarian meals while Sundays were special for non vegetarian meals. I might fall short of words trying to describe my mom’s chicken curry. This is not your usual restaurant curry. It is a perfectly spiced curry with earthy flavors from the spices, a comfort food and a treasured recipe packed with mom’s love! mom's chicken curry

Mom’s chicken curry is a THREE-part recipe:
  • First, cook the chicken in freshly grated ginger, garlic, turmeric, fresh herbs and salt.
  • Next, make the curry paste by roasting onions and dry coconut in oil.  then blended them to get a smooth curry paste. This paste is cooked again until the oil starts to separate. Then add in the dry spices like red chili powder, garam masala, cumin powder and coriander powder.
  • Last, stir the curry paste in cooked chicken and bring the curry to a full boil.

Note – The curry paste from step II above, has incredibly deep flavors, can be made-ahead and used as a base in many other curries. Here is a series of pictures that show sautéing of the onions and the coconut, until they turn golden brown: mom's chicken curry

After the onions and coconut have cooled down, add them to the blender and make a smooth paste using water as needed. Add oil to the pan and cook the paste until the oil starts to separate from the sides. Then add remaining spices and mix well. This recipe uses mom’s garam masala but I have made it using the simple 5-ingredient garam masala and it is equally good!mom's chicken curry

Once the chicken is cooked, this curry paste is added to the chicken and the chicken is cooked until all the flavors are blended together. I would not have tried making this recipe in my Instant Pot if not for my mom. Here is a video to show the process of this tasty mom’s chicken curry:

4 from 10 votes
chicken curry
Mom's Chicken Curry
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Home style chicken curry with complex flavors from onions, coconut and earthy flavors from the turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 10
Calories: 330 kcal
Author: Archana Mundhe
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 inch fresh ginger cut into 5-6 pieces
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 4 pounds whole bone-in skinless chicken pieces (3-4 inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 4 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for Curry Paste:
  • 2 tablespoon oil divided
  • 2 cups red onions diced
  • 3/4 th cup dry unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon red chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Directions for curry paste:
  1. In a large wok or pan add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add diced onions and cook for 10 minutes, on medium hight heat, stirring frequently until the onions turn golden brown. Add coconut and cook for another 5 minutes on medium low heat. Allow this to cool for 5 minutes. After it is cooled for few minutes add the mixture to a blender. Add half a cup of water and blend to make a smooth paste. Return the paste to the pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook this paste on medium high heat until the oil starts to separate from the sides. Add the remaining spices - turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt. Cook on low heat for a minute, stirring the curry paste frequently so it does not stick to the pan. Keep aside.
  2. In a small blender jar or food processor, make a fine paste of ginger, garlic, cilantro and mint by adding 2 tablespoon of water. Keep aside.
  3. Turn Instant Pot to Saute(more) mode. Once the “hot” sign displays, add oil, asafetida and turmeric powder.

  4. Carefully add the ginger-garlic-cilantro-mint paste to the oil. Be careful as the oil could splutter out. Saute for a minute.
  5. Add chicken, onions and salt. Mix well, coating the chicken with the spices. Add 1 cup of water and mix well.
  6. Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Set to Manual(Hi) for 8 minutes.
  7. Open the Instant Pot after 10 minutes of Natural Pressure Release. Add the Curry Paste and gently fold it in the cooked chicken.
  8. Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode and bring the chicken curry to a full boil. Turn Instant Pot off.
  9. Garnish with more cilantro. Enjoy hot with chapati, naan or rice!
Nutrition Facts
Mom's Chicken Curry
Amount Per Serving
Calories 330
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

18 thoughts on “Mom’s Chicken Curry – Instant Pot

    1. In a pinch yes you can replace it with frozen fresh coconut. Just make sure you roast it nicely to get rid of any extra moisture.

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Would you please clarify when to add the 2 Tbsp oil listed under “ingredients”? Should it be added prior to (or after) the asafetida and turmeric powder are added to the pot?

    Also, will this dish still taste right if I omit the asafetida?

    1. Hi Cinde, That was a good catch I forgot to mention adding oil in that step. So it should be “Turn Instant Pot to Saute(more) mode. Once the “hot” sign displays, add oil, asafetida and turmeric powder.” You can absolutely skip asafetida in this dish. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions and I can’t wait to hear how you like this delicious curry!

  2. Loved the flavors.. however, mine turned out to be a little salty .. next time will try with less salt and less curry paste

    1. Hi Swati! Thank you for your feedback. I am glad you tried this and I agree to reduce the salt for next time. I will review the recipe once again to make sure I have the salt accurate.

  3. This turned out amazing! Very delicious. I added the curry paste to the instant pot with my chicken by accident and realized it half way through cooking. It still turned out great! Next time I’ll be sure to add the paste after cooking in pressure.

    1. Hi Shelley! Thank you for the feedback. If your curry paste is ready by the time you start cooking the chicken you can def add that in. I usually cook the curry paste on stove top as the chicken cooks in IP. So glad you enjoyed the flavors!!

    1. Hi Bhargavi, reduce pressure cook time to 5 minutes. Following remaining recipe exactly. Let me know how you like it.

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