Recipe: Tibetan Famous Chicken Curry




What could be better with winter coming on than a collection of delicious family recipes from the Himalayas? This cookbook  by Oxford-based husband and wife restaurateurs, Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa,  Taste Tibet (Murdoch Books) is a collection of over 80 Himalayan recipes. Their book offers everything from comforting soups and stews, to hand-pulled noodles and momo dumplings. Why not try whipping up this delicious  Taste Tibet Famous Chicken Curry to get an idea of what awaits in the pages of this fine book. 

If you take momos out of the equation, then Taste Tibet’s famous chicken curry is definitely our biggest seller. Its name did not come about without the wild appreciation for all the joy it provides to starving festivalgoers across the land and to the fi ne, curry-loving people of Oxford. So here we are – the great reveal. We’ve kept nothing back, and we hope you’ll enjoy making it as much as we enjoy serving it.

Serves 4-6


2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, washed but not peeled, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Bassar curry masala (or hot chilli powder)
1½ teaspoons Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons coconut milk powder
6–8 fresh curry leaves, or 10–12 dried
1 x 400 ml (14 fl oz) tin of coconut milk
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped coriander (cilantro), to garnish – optional


Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic and ginger and let it brown for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and stir for a further 2 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric, curry masala and curry powder. Mix together and cook for 10–15 minutes, turning the heat down a little and adding about 50 ml (2½ tablespoons) of water if anything starts to catch, then add the coconut milk powder, curry leaves and coconut milk and mix thoroughly. Take your time here: you are making a curry paste, and it needs to be cooked through completely before you can add the chicken.

Now add the chicken and salt. Turn the heat back up to high, stir the chicken through the sauce and cook for 8–10 minutes, adding a little boiling water – but only a little – if anything sticks. The pan should be quite dry to begin with, before the juices from the chicken start to be released, so wait a while before adding any water.

After the chicken has been in for 8 minutes, check to make sure it is fully cooked. To do this, take a piece out and cut it through the middle – it should be white all the way through. If the sauce looks too thick, add a little more boiling water and stir briskly for 2 minutes. Garnish with coriander, if you like, then serve.

(For the full Taste Tibet experience, pair this curry with basmati rice, flatbread or dal. Recipes for these can also be found in Taste Tibet). 



Images and text from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa, food photography by Ola O. Smith. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.