In what order, should I put the various masalas (en:spices) in my general Indian-style spicy chicken curry?

I have the following:

  1. Chicken masala
  2. Garam masala
  3. Jeera masala
  4. Chilli powder
  5. Dhaniya masala
  6. Ginger-garlic paste

I usually marinate everything (except Garam masala) together and fry the chicken pieces after the chopped onions get fried.

Extra details:

Oil: Mustard

Type: Thick greavy

I add the amount of onions equal to that of chicken. Chicken pieces are of the size 1.5 inch x 0.5-1 inch. Usually I take legs.

  • Hard to say, because we don't know exactly what you're making [chicken curry is waaaay too broad a description], nor the precise ingredients of your various masalas. Jeera & Dhaniya could simply be ground cumin & coriander, or a blend. Chicken masala could be just about anything. We need more detail.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:48
  • Ingredients are listed on the page - i.sstatic.net/xNdMg.png - basically it's a blend, with the bulkier aromatics excluded, hence cumin, coriander & the late bloom of garam masala. It still depends on what type of chicken curry you're making… spices need to be heated first, but whether that's by bhuna or bhogar depends on your required end result. btw, if you can get frozen ginger/garlic use that instead, unless you're making Vindaloo, which can use the vinegar taste of canned/jarred paste.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 16:01
  • bhuna is a dry fry, bhogar is a 'wet fry'. You could consider adding spices to sweated-down onions as a bhogar-type method. See cooking.stackexchange.com/a/109268/42066 for a breakdown of some of the methodology. It kind of covers two basic methods; there's a third which starts by boiling the onions & spices in water & ghee until all the water boils off., then that result is fried in the remaining ghee. Tastes great, needs patience;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 16:09
  • You have too many spice mixes in your recipe. Normal curries use one maybe two different spice mixes. Not four!
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 21:53
  • @FuzzyChef I think you are right. As pointed out by Tetsujin , I might have been using some spices twice. Chicken masala contains some ingredients which I am using again. I think I need to discard Coriander and Cumin because these are ingredients of Chicken masala packets found in stores. Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you are on the right track. Most spices are meant to be added towards the beginning of the cooking process because frying the spice helps release the flavorful oils and keeps it from being gritty. Pastes like garlic and ginger paste likewise should be fried off before adding liquids. The only exception to your list is garam masala, which is a finishing spice that should be added at the end of cooking.

  • Does the same goes for parsley powder (dhaniya powder)? Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:58
  • 2
    Dhania powder is Coriander, not parsley. Yes I'd add it at the beginning. If you want to add dried parsley I'd do it mid-way through the cooking, fresh parsley or other green herbs should be added at the end.
    – GdD
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 16:28

Based on the OP & comments so far, a dry curry is required.

I'd go with a bhuna method, especially if you're talking small chicken pieces, reasonably fast cook.

Start with a medium hot pan & ghee, add all your dry spices except the garam masala.
Fry briefly, maybe 2 minutes, don't let it burn.
Add onions - the more finely-chopped the better if you're looking for a quick cook. [If I'm trying to do this quickly, rather than let it simmer all day, I cheat by chopping maybe ¾ of my onions as finely as humanly possible, & the other ¼ quite chunky, so they stay whole in the final sauce.]
Sweat down, stirring frequently until past the point they soften & they start to slightly break down. You're not looking for browning, but some slight colour is perfectly fine. Add ginger/garlic paste & keep sweating until the raw garlic smell goes.

Depending on your chicken cuts, now either:-
For small-cut chicken breast pieces etc… scrape your existing mixture out, add more ghee & flash-fry your chicken. Re-add your paste/gravy & some garam masala. Serve.
For larger cuts or including skin/bone such as thighs etc - drop your chicken pieces to this mix & simmer for at least an hour. Again, add garam masala towards the end.

You can mix & match the methods - you can flash-fry thighs to get some browning on them if that makes you feel it looks better, but you need to give it the hour or so to get thighs to break down properly.
Chicken breast pieces will be over-cooked in 5 minutes, so you can't do that with breast.

If you want some colour on chicken breast… cheat. Marinate in yoghurt & kashmiri mirch, or even just food colouring. Psuedo-tikka.

Note this doesn't use any additional water - your 'curry gravy' is made from your onions & ghee.
The longer you cook this basic gravy before adding your chicken, the better the end result.


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