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Chicken Salan is a Pakistani chicken curry stew dish which is known for its rich and spicy flavor. The chicken is simmered with tomatoes, onion, yogurt, and assorted spices, such as cumin, coriander and garam masala. The dish is often garnished with fresh coriander and served alongside rice or naan, offering a delightful and satisfying taste of traditional Pakistani cuisine.

Pakistani Chicken Curry called Chicken Salan garnished with coriander leaves on a plate bowl
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Pakistani food is one of my favorites since they are rich in flavors and spices. Their cuisine is similar to Indian food and they are both amazingly delicious. When I was living in Kuwait, I had a Pakistani friend who made me a chicken curry called Chicken Salan which I enjoyed so much.

In my experience, if you eaten Indian curries then I am sure you will love Pakistani curry dishes too. In this post, I have made my version of Chicken Salan which the flavor is milder and it is in the form of a stew that is not as thick as Indian curries.

Pakistani Chicken Curry called Chicken Salan garnished with coriander leaves on a plate bowlPakistani Chicken Curry called Chicken Salan garnished with coriander leaves on a plate bowl

Difference between Pakistani and Indian Curries

Although they are almost similar, you can notice there is a difference in terms of the ingredients and the way of cooking.

  1. The sauce of Indian curries is usually thicker and creamier since they are known to use coconut milk or butter. On the other hand, Pakistani curry uses water or ghee when making a stew and they don’t use much coconut milk in their dishes.
  2.  The Indian curry uses more complex and diverse spices that can be overwhelming if you are new to this type of food.
  3.  Indian cuisines are known to have varieties of vegetarian food, while Pakistani food contains mostly meat-based dishes.

Recipe Ingredients

Here are my ingredients to make Chicken Salan:

Chicken: I am using a mix of chicken thigh and drumstick since they are juicier and more flavorful compared to the breast.

Ground Spices: The spices I used to enhance the aromatic flavor of my Pakistani chicken curry include cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder for spiciness, garam masala, and fenugreek leaves.

Whole Spices: For whole spices, I am using cardamom, cloves, and cumin seeds.

Yogurt: The yogurt adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor to the curry, balancing the heat from the spices.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes create a flavorful base for the sauce.

Herbs: Garlic and ginger are crucial ingredients, adding a savory flavor to the curry. Additionally, red onions are caramelized in oil to provide a sweet and savory taste. Coriander leaves and Fenugreek Leaves (kasuri meth) are used to enhance the flavor of the stew and for garnish.

Other ingredients: Additionally, you will need vegetable oil for sautéing the onions and other ingredients, salt, black pepper & brown sugar (optional) for taste, and water to form the base of the stew.

Step by Step Instruction

Step 1: First, I heat the cooking pot on medium heat before adding ½ cup of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the sliced red onion and gently give a stir.

Step 2: Once the red onion turned golden brown, I added the whole spices such as cumin seeds, cloves, and cardamom. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Now add the chopped red tomatoes and gently stir. You want to make sure the tomatoes are sauteed longer till turn into a mushy texture.

Step 4: After that, I added cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chili powder.

Step 5-7: Add the chicken thigh and drumstick and give a quick stir before pouring water. Once it starts to boil, simmer in low heat for 30 minutes to cook the chicken.

Step 8: After 10 minutes of simmering, add the garam masala and mix to combine. Once you reach the 20-minute, add the plain yogurt and stir again. During the simmering process, add salt, black pepper, and brown sugar (optional) for taste.

Step 9-10: Once you reach 30 minutes of simmering, add chopped coriander leaves and fenugreek leaves, and gently stir to combine. Let it simmer for 5 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked and soft.

Final Step: Serve this delicious Pakistani Chicken Curry with rice or naan bread. Enjoy!

Tips and Hints

  • When you cook chicken salan, it will have a stronger flavor the next day.
  • Caramelizing the sliced red onion will enhance the flavor of the curry stew.
  • The Fenugreek leaves on the last step since it has a stronger aroma which will overwhelm the other spices. Additionally, it may become bitter if overcooked.
  • If you want to cook this Pakistani chicken curry faster, you can use boneless chicken breast. However, this type of meat is not as juicy as thigh & leg. Also, cooking longer is meant to enhance the flavor of the curry stew.
  • Add more water if the curry sauce is thick or if needed.

Substitution Suggestion

  • If you don’t have plain yogurt, you can use light cream or Greek yogurt.
  • For vegetarian eaters, you can use tofu instead of meat.
  • If you prefer a milder curry, you can substitute paprika powder to achieve the desired red color for the stew.
  • If you don’t have naan bread, you can switch with any flatbread like my Arabic kuboos bread or Greek flatbread.

Other curry recipes to try

Here are my other delicious Asian chicken curry recipes that you can cook at home:

  1. Filipino Chicken Curry
  2. Indian Spinach Chicken Curry

📋 Recipe Card

Chicken Salan (Pakistani Chicken Curry)

Saif Al Deen Odeh

Chicken Salan is a flavorful Pakistani chicken curry recipe, simmered with tomatoes, onions, yogurt, and a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Garnished with fresh coriander, this dish is best served with rice or naan bread.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 35 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Course Main Course

Cuisine Pakistani

Servings 4

Calories 513 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 6 large pieces of chicken thigh and drumstick

Herbs

  • 5 cloves of garlic grated
  • 2-inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 Large Red onion sliced
  • ½ Cup Coriander leaves For both garnish and cooking
  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)

Ground Spices

  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili powder adjust based on spice preference
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala

Whole Spices

  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

Other Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes chopped
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar optional, adjust to taste
  • 1.5-2 cups of water adjust based on desired consistency
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Begin by heating the cooking pot over medium heat and adding ½ cup of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced red onion and gently stir.

  • Once the red onion achieves a golden brown, add the whole spices such as 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 3 cloves, and 3 cardamom pods. Stir to blend.

  • Now add 3 medium-sized chopped red tomatoes and gently stir, make sure the tomatoes are sautéed until they attain a mushy texture.

  • Following that, add 1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chili powder.

  • Add 6 large pieces of chicken thigh and drumstick, giving a quick stir before pouring 1.5 of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes to thoroughly cook the chicken.

  • After 10 minutes of simmering, include 1 teaspoon of garam masala and mix to combine. Once you reach the 20-minute mark, add ½ cup of plain yogurt and stir again. Throughout the simmering process, season with salt, black pepper, and optional 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for taste.

  • Upon reaching 30 minutes of simmering, add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and a handful of chopped coriander leaves, gently stirring to combine. Allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

  • Serve this delicious Pakistani Chicken Curry with rice or naan bread. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use light cream or Greek yogurt if you don’t have plain yogurt, but do not add brown sugar.
  • Tofu can replace meat if you prefer a vegetarian option.
  • If you prefer a milder curry, you can substitute paprika powder to achieve the desired red color for the stew.
  • Adding fenugreek leaves must be done last, together with coriander leaves, to avoid bitterness or an overwhelming aroma.
  • Add more water if the curry sauce is thick or if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 4gCalories: 513kcalCarbohydrates: 51.6gProtein: 26.1gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5.7gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 700mgPotassium: 1264mgFiber: 8.3gSugar: 29.4gCalcium: 157mgIron: 15mg

Keyword Chicken Salan, Pakistani Chicken Curry

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