Chicken with fenugreek

Chicken with fenugreek

I Love India
Martin Poole

I worked in the restaurant of the Park Royal Hotel in Delhi in the very early days of exploring my passion for Indian food. On one of the very first days, the chef was making chicken with fenugreek. We ate a fair amount of fenugreek at home, but never with chicken, so I was curious to see what it tasted like. Obviously, it was excellent and although I didn’t take the recipe or follow what the chef was doing properly, the flavour memory stayed with me. A decade later, I decided to cook it for my father, the real gourmet of the family. This is how I made it. It is really nice to have a dish that is recognizable in its origin, yet a little bit different to other Indian dishes you have tried. If you can find fresh fenugreek, that would add more flavour, but I always have a packet of dried fenugreek leaves and they make this truly delicious. I add a knob of butter at the end, to give the dish that enriched restaurant feel. Serve with Indian breads.


Quantity Ingredient
4 small tomatoes, quartered
200g plain yogurt
6 tablespoons each vegetable oil
2 black cardamom pods
5cm cinnamon stick
1 dried indian bay leaf
5 green cardamom pods
5 cloves
2 medium-small onions, finely chopped
30g coarsely grated root ginger, (peeled weight)
8 large garlic cloves, coarsely grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
1kg skinned, bone-in chicken joints, cut into large pieces by the butcher
7 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, or to taste
2 rounded teaspoons see method for ingredients, or to taste, (fresh if possible)
knob unsalted butter, (optional)


  1. Blend together the tomatoes and yogurt until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan or karahi. Throw in the whole spices and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and fry until soft and browning. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, for another minute or so. Spoon in the ground coriander, turmeric and the chilli powder and give the pan a few good stirs.
  3. Add the blended tomatoes and season well with salt. Stir constantly as it comes to the boil to stop it from splitting. Once it is bubbling, stir every now and again to make sure it doesn’t stick to the base of the pan. You will need to stir more as it thickens.
  4. Once the masala releases oil back into the pan, add the chicken pieces. Stir and cook for around 8 minutes, then add enough water to come halfway up the chicken. Bring to the boil, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  5. Crumble in the dried fenugreek leaves and stir in the garam masala. Cook for another few minutes over a high-ish flame, reducing the sauce until it is quite thick and clingy. Taste and adjust the seasoning, stir in a knob of butter (if using) and serve.
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