Popular Indian Chicken Dish Recipes

Due to religious reasons, a lot of people in India do not eat beef or pork. That is why chicken is the most common meat in Indian cuisine. Some of India's most famous dishes use chicken, including many that are enjoyed worldwide at Indian restaurants. You can enjoy the authentic taste of your favorite spiced chicken dishes at home with these recipes.

  • 01 of 10

    Butter Chicken

    Authentic Murg Makhani (Butter Chicken)

    The Spruce

    Butter chicken is an iconic Indian dish. It's also known as chicken makkhani and tastes great with kaali daal (black lentils) and naan (leavened tandoor-baked Indian flatbread).

    Butter chicken came to be in the 1950s in Delhi, at the Mohi Mahal hotel. Legend has it that it was named to sound "different" from other Indian dishes. The fact that it does have a little butter mixed with the gravy ingredients helps too. This recipe is the real deal, unlike some of the "butter chicken" dishes on restaurant menus that include raisins, food coloring, and ketchup.

  • 02 of 10

    Tandoori Chicken

    A table laid with dips and chicken tandoori
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    Among the most famous Indian foods, tandoori chicken is loved by people the world over. The nicest thing about this dish is that it's really easy to make. It gets its name from the way it is cooked—in a tandoor, or clay oven. After the chicken is marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture, the pieces are threaded onto skewers, and then placed in the tandoor to cook.

    This recipe calls for tandoori masala, an Indian spice mix you can make ahead of time to always have on hand. It includes turmeric powder and red chilis, which give the tandoori chicken its signature orange hue.

  • 03 of 10

    Chicken Tikka Masala

    Chiken Tikka Masala
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    Tikka means pieces, chunks, or bits. Chicken tikka masala is a delicious dish in which pre-marinated pieces of chicken are grilled and then added to a thick, creamy gravy. The marinade consists of yogurt and spices. The gravy is a traditional mixture of Indian spices, onion, and tomato, with a bit of cream added to create a smooth and rich finish.​

  • 04 of 10

    Chettinad Chicken Curry

    Naan bread with chicken chettinad
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    From Tamilnadu in South India, this curry is quite fiery. There's no reason why you can't reduce the chilies to suit your own palate, though.

    Typical of many Indian recipes, the whole spices are toasted and then ground. Those are mixed with ginger and garlic pastes to create a spice paste. Combined with curry leaves and tomatoes, the chicken simmers until tender to create a delicious and spicy Chettinad chicken dish.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Chicken Curry

    Chicken curry
    Pamela Lao/Getty Images

    This most basic of chicken recipes is also one of the tastiest. Although many chicken curries include yogurt or cream, this recipe creates a thickening agent by grinding fried onions into a paste and processing the tomatoes with garlic and ginger pastes. Serve chicken curry with hot chapatis (Indian flatbread) or plain boiled rice.

  • 06 of 10

    Mughlai Chicken

    Indian Mughlai Chicken
    EzumeImages / Getty Images

    The thick, creamy gravy of Mughlai chicken is inspired by the food of Central Asia. It is an ideal dish for special occasions because it is so rich and decadent tasting. Surprisingly, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare and requires no special ingredients.

  • 07 of 10

    Chicken Dhansak Parsi

    Chicken dhansak closeup
    PaulCowan / Getty Images

    A great make-ahead dish, chicken dhansak parsi tastes even better the next day. You can make it with chicken, lamb, or goat and it's always delicious. It is a Persian and Gujarati (western India) recipe combining lentils, vegetables, meat, and spices. Don't be deterred by the number of ingredients—most are spices to make the masala powder.

  • 08 of 10

    Chicken Saagwala

    Indian food
    steauarosie / Getty Images

    A light curry dish common in northern India, chicken saagwala consists of pan-fried chicken combined with spinach and a flavorful sauce. It is one of the healthier choices on Indian menus. Pair it with hot chapatis or plain rice and you have a complete meal the whole family will love. It's great to make ahead, too.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Chicken Cafreal

    Murgh Cafreal - Goan chicken dish
    Peter Williams / Getty Images

    Reminiscent of the famous Portuguese peri-peri sauce, this delicious, tangy, hot dish is the Indian equivalent of Portuguese-style grilled chicken. It is a spicy dish and the chicken is traditionally deep-fried, but you can grill it if you prefer. With only a few ingredients—chicken, lemon, chilies, garlic, and ginger—this chicken cafreal is ideal for a busy weeknight.

  • 10 of 10

    Mughlai Chicken Biryani

    Mughlai Biryani
    Gagandeepsapra/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    A regal dish, Mughlai chicken biryani is fit for a king (and was probably eaten by many of them). This recipe makes the perfect one-dish meal to cook up when you have company. Consisting of chicken (or lamb), rice, yogurt, and many spices, it is a filling and flavorful layered dish.