Lahori Chicken Curry with Whole Spices and Potatoes

Finger Hot is the commercial name for this asian-type pepper that is actually very similar to fresh cayenne and can be used in any recipe to add heat without changing the flavor. It is a good chile to chop and use in stir fry.

They are thin-walled and measure about 1/2″ wide and 5″ to 8″ long. These chiles also dry very nicely.

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one 4 pound chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces and skinned
3 medium red boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-1/2 medium onions, roughly diced
5 garlic cloves
2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half crosswise
1″ pice of cinnamon stick
12 green cardamom pods
9 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
3 whole dried red Thai chiles
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 fresh finger-hot green chile, cut in half
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lemon


Combine the chicken, potatoes, 1/2 tsp. of the turmeric, 1/4 tsp. of the cayenne and 1/4 tsp. of salt in a bowl and stir to coat the chicken and potato with the spices. Let stand while you make the sauce.

Finely mince the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and set aside.

Combine 2 Tbsp. of the oil, with the cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, red chiles, coriander and cumin in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the cinnamon unfurls, about 1-2 minutes. Add the minced onion mixture, the green finger-hot chile and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, until the vegetables brown around the edges, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon and green chile, and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp. of turmeric and 1/4 tsp. of cayenne. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Set the mixture aside.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and potatoes and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time and stir well after each addition. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, to evaporate some of the moisture.

Add the pureed tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the water and eturn to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Stir every 5-8 minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from sticking. Then uncover and cook 5 more minutes to reduce and thicken. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice. Taste for salt and serve hot.

Recipe by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness from Indian Home Cooking (Clarkson Potter, 2004).