Maximum Chicken: a 20 minute chicken curry from Mumbai

I am more of an instinctive cook. I have made the odd dish using recipes. But recipes bore me after a point. I find it to be too much of a drag to go through the details and then cook a dish. I prefer conceptualising what I want to make and then go by my instincts or folow some basic directions. my attempts have turned out well in most cases even if I say so. I also look for short cuts while cooking and I don't always find them in recipe books.

Yesterday I felt like trying out something new in chicken curries and I turned to ingredients such as coconut milk, whole mustard seeds, curry leaves and East Indian Masala, a recipe unique to the East Indian Community of Mumbai (you can see the recipe in the Link).

These ingredients are quite different from those used in my native Bengali cooking.

I have named this dish after Suketu Mehta's book on Mumbai, 'Maximum City' since I used a lot of local ingredients. Somehow Slumdog Chicken was beginning to sound a bit too much like Old Mac Donald's farm to work as a name. I didn't have any recipe in mind but I must say that I was influenced by memories of recent episodes of Floyd's India and Hairy Bikers which were based in South India.

So here goes the recipe of this fairly easy to cook and tasty dish.


  • 1 tea spoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 chopped onion/ shallot
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 6 chicken drum sticks, slashed with a knife for the masala to go in
  • 3 tea spoons of curry leaves
  • 2 tea spoons of East Indian Masala: you get this in Catholic meat shops in places like Bandra at Mumbai. Try a mix of a tea spoon of red chilly powder and a tea spoon of garam masala powder if you can't get hold of the East Indian Masala
  • 2, 3 red/ green chillies
  • 1 tea spoon sugar
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 1/2 a fresh lime
  • 1 tea spoon cooking oil
  • 200 ml of coconut milk (I use Dabur's Home Made tetra packs)
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • a non stick sauce pan


  • Phase 1: 5 minutes
  • Heat a tea spoon of oil in the pan
  • Put in the mustard seeds and wait till the oil splatters in about thirty seconds
  • Add the chilly and lightly fry them
  • Add the onions and fry them till they become translucent
  • Then add the curry leaves and tomato and stir till the onions become soft

  • Phase 2: 5 minutes
  • Add the chicken pieces
  • And the East Indian Masala
  • And the salt
  • And squeeze the lime on top and stir it till the chicken skin begins to crinkle

  • Phase 3: ten minutes
  • Add the coconut milk
  • And the water
  • And the sugar
  • Let it come to a boil (first time chefs note that the liquid will turn creamish and begin to froth in a couple of minutes)
  • Reduce the flame to simmer, cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about ten minutes

You will know the dish is done if you can poke the chicken easily with a fork. The end gravy will be dark brown in colour. There will be a film of oil on the top which is the natural oil of the chicken. We used only one tea spoon of oil, remember?

I would recommend having this with hot, steamed rice


Anonymous said…
Thank you for the comment you left on my blog. Also thank you for providing a link to my masala post. Your recipe sounds interesting. Did you use canned coconut milk? Otherwise if you are using freshly made coconut milk and you boil it, it tends to split. So one has to take care not to let it come to boil and simmer it. No such caution is necessary in case of canned coconut milk.
Scarlett said…
Looks yummy! Will try. What are the chances it'll still turn out to be a yummy dish without coconut milk? :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hi Amol, thanks for dropping in with this fantastic tip. I have had a simialr experience when i use curd (the curd cracks like coconut milk). I used a tetrapack of coconut milk (Dabur Homemade). That's probably why it didn't crack. Cheers, Kalyan
@Scarlett: frankly am a bit doubtuful. Coconut milk is like ambrosia...heavenly and yes sinful in dietary terms. Coconut milk gives it a nice creamy taste WITHOUT overtly smelling of coconut. Might get a bit watery without. You can try the recipe here for a healthy, oil free chicken curry, quite easy to make and no coconut milk
k said…
memories..sweet memories..
JenDza said…
Hi, I came across you blog,'Finely Chopped'. You have some good recipes. I noticed you have used the eastindian bottle masala your reference ""East Indian Masala, a recipe unique to the Mangalorean, Catholic Community of Mumbai"". I am an Eastindian from Bandra, and I would like you to know eastindians are not Mangalorean, but the original inhabitans of Mumbai. You may checkout the following websites to know more about the eastindians,
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Jenny, thanks for dropping in and clarifying. I firmly believe that the charm of Bandra lies in its East Indian origins. I'lll look up the site you mentioned and make the change too.

East Indian masala is really a fascinating mix which forms a wonderful base. We have occasionally used it veggies like tendla but I won't admit that in public

I am a Bengali so I guess that makes me 'East Indian' too :)

Cheers & keep writing in
JenDza said…
Hi Amol,

Thanks for reading my comments. There is much more to Eastindian (Mobaikar) food, than the bottle masala, I am glad you have tried the bottle masala, which is very vercitile. You should try out our eastindian recipes, which you will find on the websites indicated in my previous comment, and incidently not find at any resturant, and will have to cook yourself.

I am currently in Dubai and miss bandra my home very much. I have a few bengali friends and enjoyed bengali food which is very good and different from our style of cooking, occasionaly.

Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Jennie,

I think there is a bit of lost in translation thingie going on. I am Kalyan.

Amol, is someone whose blog I had referred to while putting a link to East Indian Masala.

I will check out the site and the recipes. Especially since I am bang in the middle of East India (Pali Market). Didn't try it earlier because I had a preconception that there is a lot of red meat, oil and coconut involved in East Indian cooking. I love all three, apparently my cholesterol levels don't. Hopefully the site you referred to will prove me wrong.

I have lived in bandra for eleven years now and I am in love with it. I can't imagine living anywhere else in mumbai. it is the most warm and welcoming place that I have ever seen
Anonymous said…
Nice to your read your blog about online friends. You can find more friends in online to get new ideas about anything in and around the world. Indian Friends Online are dominated in this online community to reach you goal.

Indian Friends Online Community

Social Network website

Make Money Online
Anonymous said…
Hi Kalyan,
Can you name a couple of stores who sell Bottle Masala? I am not a native Mumbai person but I have friends there. I am desperately looking for some bottle masala. I'll appreciate your help.