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Sometimes when pre-cooking chicken for a curry week, the chicken cuts doesn't keep its shape. It starts to get a bit stringy and losing the "smooth" shape that it was cut with, what could I be doing wrong, given that my favourite indian restaurants always have the chicken in a nice shape?

p.s: I'm confident this is down to method, as I have had this before, but it was a one off, anyway.

  • Could you please give us some more details as to what kind of meat you are using (e.g. breast or thigh), how you cut it and how you pre-cook? Thanks! – Stephie Nov 3 '14 at 8:14
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This doesn't always happen - it could be anything but most likely is the amount of time and water used. Not to mention the ingredients as certain ingredients can destroy meat.

Try any of these options:

  1. At the very beginning when frying your spices and/or onions, fry the chicken pieces and then take them out so they're sealed. Add water to the pan and whatever else you're using and bring the water down until it's like gravy. Put the chicken pieces back in - cover on low heat for ten minutes. Stir, then cover for a further ten minutes.

  2. If you don't want to do something fidly, try to use a wide pan and put only enough water to just cover the chicken - cover for twenty minutes then uncover and cook until it looks yummy.

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Hi there is no need to pre-cook chicken. If you put pre-cooked chicken in curry it will become over cooked and chewy like rubber.

Put chicken pieces in the prepared curry base, make sure you do not add any water in it. Chicken releases its on water which gives a good flavor to the curry so let it cook own its own. Cover it with a lid while its cooking. Once chicken looks set add little water only if required. Remember chicken does not take much time to cook. Few minutes and it will be done to perfection. Once it looks tender turn it off. Don't let it fall apart.

Also I prefer to marinate raw chicken at-least an hour in advance with little yogurt and garlic ginger paste and kept in fridge ( my mom used to keep it overnight). It makes chicken nice and tender for cooking.

  • I know it's not a requirement, but having been behind the scenes of many indian restaurants (and trained on some of them) I know that precooking chicken in advance is a practice for speeding service. While I know this is not required at home, I tend to follow the practices of restaurants, so my question is not about how to precook, but how to keep a 'pretty' shape in the end product whilst also being tender. Thanks for your answer though :) – CaseyJones Apr 4 '15 at 1:53
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    No problem. I have worked in Indian restaurants for over 2 years and I owned an Indian restaurant myself. Honestly for us Indians, most Indian restaurant food is like eating at McDonalds'. I hardly ate there. If it helps, the restaurant that i have worked in we always pre-cook chicken and store it in cool room. After the gravy is ready, take as many chicken pieces out as you need and microwave it for 15-20 secs and just add it to hot gravy and serve. do not cook it anymore. The shape will be as it is. You cannot go wrong with this. – User56756 Apr 6 '15 at 23:24

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