Middle Eastern Basic Chicken Curry (Gulf States)

In Main Meals on February 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Rummaging through the cookbook section of Guildford Book Exchange, I found a copy of Tess Mallos’ The Complete Middle East Cookbook and was so excited!! I’ve been looking for a Turkish, or a broader Middle Eastern cookbook for a while, but they are rare in Perth! I was lucky to find it, as a retired head chef had been in there that morning umming and aahing over the same book – apparently he’s been buying up any rare classics.

After much reading, it became apparent that I needed a basic Baharat spice mix before I could start. Yesterday, I got around to making it – only took 5 minutes, excellent!Ā  IĀ  ran out of kid-free time by the afternoon to take time in choosing a recipe, so I chose the easiest recipe to identify – Chicken Curry (Quwarmah Ala Dajaj). Boring I know lol, but it was delicious šŸ™‚ Make the Baharat spice mix first! You’ll be able to use excess Baharat in any Middle Eastern or Indian curry you like, otherwise pick up Tess Mallos’ cookbook, or one similar – the recipes are great!

Serves: 4-5

Cooking Time: 2 – 2 1/2 hours


  • 1 chicken, about 1.5 kg (3 lb), jointed (I use 1.1 kg chicken thighs, halved)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baharat
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 ghee (or veg oil)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (depending on how much you like)
  • small piece cinnamon bark
  • 1 cup chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 loomi (dried limes) or thinly peeled rind of 1/2 lemon (I was out of both options, so used zest of one lime, and a squeeze of lime juice)
  • 3/4 cup water


  1. Cut chicken joints into smaller pieces if desired. Spread on a platter. Wipe dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Combine Baharat and turmeric and rub half of the mixture onto the chicken. Leave for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan and brown chicken pieces on each side. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add onion to pan and fry gently until transparent. Add garlic, ginger, remaining spice mixture, ground chili to taste and cinnamon bark. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add tomatoes, dried limes pierced twice with a skewer (or lemon rind…or lime zest&juice), and water. Add salt to taste and bring to the boil.
  5. Add chicken pieces, reduce heat to low and cover pan tightly. Simmer very gently for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until chicken is tender and sauce is thick.
  6. Serve with a Rice Pilaf (I post a simple recipe soon!) and a simple green salad if you like.


  • If you have an electric stovetop, and don’t have a large non-stick pan, I recommend transferring the curry to a slow cooker at the beginning of step 5. My curry was in the slow cooker for 5 hours before it was dinnertime, so it is a recipe you could chuck on before work, or in your lunch break.

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