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Kalya/Murghi ka Salan or Pakistani Chicken Curry

A curry that gets its deep but light flavours from caramelized onions and mild spices

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Keyword Curry, Salan, Chicken, Murghi, Kalya
Servings 4
Author Sarah - Flour & Spice


  • 1 Pound Chicken Breast Meat cut into 2 inch pieces
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp garlic or 5 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 Whole green chillies optional
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder


  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot

  2. Add the cumin seeds and whole black pepper

  3. When the cumin seeds start to sizzle then add the onions

  4. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until the onions are mostly a rich brown

  5. Now add the garlic paste, saute for a minute then add the red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt.

  6. If at any time during the process the spices or onions start to burn add a splash of hot water.

  7. Cook stirring frequently for about a minute then add the chicken pieces, stirring them at regular intervals until the look cooked/white from all sides.

  8. Pour 1.5-2 cups of hot water into the pot, bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 30 minutes. The chicken should be nice and tender.

  9. Increase the heat and dry up the masala, as you do so the onions will break down and form a beautiful cohesive paste. You can skip this step if you're pressed for time and simply adjust the consistency of the curry to your liking.

  10. Once the masalas become a paste and the oil rises to the top (bhunn) then add hot water as per your preference along with the green chilies and bring the mixture to a boil.

  11. Turn the heat off, add the garam masala, adjust the seasoning, top with cilantro and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • If you are using pre fried onions then skip frying the onions, cook the garlic paste, spices, chicken, and when the chicken is sealed then add the pre fried onions. Remember to buy onions without any coating!