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Chicken and vegetable curry recipe


Growing up in a traditional Italian home, I learned very little about food that wasn’t Italian.  I could tell you the names of about 80 different shapes of pasta (you could, too if you ate it four times per week) and I knew my Parmigiano from my Pecorino.  In the garden, I could differentiate between the many varieties of eggplant or basil plants.  This was my culinary comfort zone.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was exposed to “ethnic” foods and I fell hard for curries.  Raise your hand if you thought like I did that curry was a spice — one spice.  I imagined fields somewhere in Asia with people picking curry berries.  (Actually, there is such a thing as a curry plant, but it is somewhat like a lettuce and has nothing to do with Indian or Thai curries.)  I learned not too long ago that curry powder is a blend of several different spices and no two curry powders are the same.  Most contain turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and red pepper in their blends. Depending on the brand, additional ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and black pepper can be added.  Some chefs prefer to toast their own spices and grind them to make their own curry blends, which sounds like such a nice thing to do if it wouldn’t completely put me over the edge.  I give you permission to use a premade curry powder which will not compromise anything in this recipe.

Chicken and vegetable curry is a staple in our house.  It is an incredibly flavorful dish enriched with coconut milk and cashew butter.  I vary the vegetables according to the season:  butternut squash or yams in the fall/winter with cauliflower; asparagus and peas in the spring; green beans and eggplant in the late summer/early fall; and I always throw in a few handfuls of spinach at the end because I will add leafy greens wherever I can.   We love this over brown jasmine or basmati rice, but recently I served this over some leftover soba and it was so tasty with the sauce coating all the noodles — everyone devoured it, especially Mr. Picky!

This curry is gluten-free.  Vegetarians can substitute chickpeas instead of chicken and vegetable stock for chicken stock.  This freezes really well as long as it’s tightly covered with as little air as possible coming into contact with the top of the food.

I love sharing all the nutritional highlights about the recipes I post.   You can read about all the benefits of curry powder’s anti-inflammatory spices, especially turmeric, in the Harira post, and I would likely sound like a broken record if I told you why we need to eat more vegetables and less animal protein.  But don’t make this dish just because it’s good for you.  Make it because it’s delicious.  When I served this to my Italian father for the first time he said, “I have no idea what this is, but it’s fantastic.”

chicken and vegetable curry | pamela salzman

chicken and vegetable curry | pamela salzman


4.7 from 9 reviews
Chicken and Vegetable Curry
Serves: 6
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or ghee
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken meat (breast or thigh or combination), cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups vegetables, cut into same size as carrots and celery (e.g. cauliflower, root veggies, green beans, eggplant, potatoes…)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons curry powder*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • ½ cup cashews, finely ground or ¼ cup cashew butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  1. Season chicken pieces with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil or ghee in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Without crowding, add the chicken in batches and lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and continue cooking all the chicken in the same manner.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pot and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and remaining vegetables. Cook another few minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices on the plate back in the pot. Add the curry powder, spices and salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the stock (or diced tomatoes) and chopped cilantro and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the ground cashews or cashew butter to the curry along with the coconut milk, and simmer gently uncovered, stirring until sauce is thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in spinach leaves and stir until wilted. Delicious over cooked basmati or jasmine rice or noodles.
*Different brands of curry powder taste differently. “Simply Organic” is a little stronger with more depth of flavor than “Spicely Organic.” You can probably use 2 Tablespoons “Simply Organic” and 3 Tablespoons “Spicely Organic.”



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  1. YUM!! Made this tonight for dinner and perfect for a cold winter meal. I used a sweet potato, one larger potato, and red and yellow peppers to make up the four cups of veggies. It was delicious. I didn’t see when to add the spinach in the instructions, but added right at the end and let them wilt. Served over basmati rice. Thank you for another winner!.

    • You’re right! Thank you for letting me know. I updated the recipe to reflect when to add the spinach. Glad you gave it a try!

      • You’re welcome!!

  2. Gave this a shot tonight and it was really great. Left out the peanuts (that’s just me), added zucchini and basil. Would like a little more body and heat. Any suggestions?? I will add this to my collection, thanks.

    • For heat, you can add in a pinch of cayenne or a couple pinches of crushed red pepper with the onions. Curry powders are all different, so if yours isn’t flavorful enough, you could supplement with more of the spices foundin curry powder like turmeric, ginger, cumin etc

  3. If you just make this with chickpeas, how much do you use? Thank you!

    • 1 15-ounce can is about 1 pound, so I usually swap 1 pound of chickpeas for 1 pound of chicken.

  4. Been thinking about this recipe for days and I am planning on preparing this today. But I live alone. Can I freeze some of the curry?

    • For sure you can!

  5. Have you tried this in a slow cooker?

    • No, but it would work just fine. I would saute the aromatics on the stove first because it would taste better than just throwing everything in the slow cooker. You may want to decrease the liquid by a smidge because there is no evaporation in a slow cooker. Try 5-6 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH.

  6. Hi there,

    I am planning on making this recipe this evening. I want to add potatoes, when should I add the potatoes and do I need to parboil them first?

    Also would it dramatically change the flavour if I didnt add cashews or cashew butter?


    • Dice them so they’re on the small size and add them before you add the liquid. Before serving, make sure they are tender (which they should be.) Omitting the cashews does take out a nice nuttiness. But the curry powder has enough flavor to carry the dish. The nuts/nut butter also thickens it up though so the resulting dish will be a bit thinner. You can really use any nut or seed butter that you have, including peanut butter.

  7. Made our first-ever curry last night using this recipe. Fabulous (as always)!

    • Won’t be your last!

  8. Would love to try this recipe but my son is allergic to cashews. Is there a good replacement?

    • Absolutely! You can use peanuts/peanut butter or almond butter.

  9. I am trying this recipe tonight! Not a fan of chicken though, when would you recommend adding canned chickpeas instead? Thank you!

    • In the last 10 minutes. They just need to get warmed though and infused with the flavor of the curry. You can add them a little earlier if you wish. 🙂

      • Thank you!

  10. I bought culinary coconut milk it was very thick and creamy is that what I’m supposed to use? Or just regular coconut milk?

    • Now there are to coconut milks which make it very confusing for everyone. If a recipe calls for coconut milk, it’s the one in the can, which is now also known as culinary coconut milk and that is actually regular coconut milk. The coconut milk in the refrigerated section of the market is coconut milk beverage which is watered down and has other additives. You want the one in the can which is very thick and creamy, yes.

  11. We were all so tired of leftovers from Thanksgiving and then you posted your meal plan. Thank you for this recipe! It turned out ah-mazing (of course!). I have a Miss Picky and she devoured it! Even requested to have it for lunch the next day. 🙂

    • Yay! This has been a family favorite in my house for over 10 years. 🙂

  12. Is this really spicy?

    • Not spicy at all.

  13. Tried it and it was deliscious!

    • Terrific! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  14. Recipe fell flat flavor wise.
    Had to zest it up quite a bit in oder to satisfy taste buds!

    • totally!

  15. Hi Pamela,

    I’m going to try this today. I don’t eat chicken but would you suggest shrimp? Also, how many canned chickpeas would you recommend?

    • Shrimp would be great here, but the timing is different. You would start off sauteing vegetables and leave the shrimp to the last five minutes of cooking. Just peel and de-vein them and then add them into the stew at the end and stir them around. Let them sit in the simmering stew until they are cooked through, which depends on how big they are. But figure a few minutes to five minutes. Sometimes I’ll use 1 pound of chicken and 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas.

  16. Hi Pamela, I have made your shrimp curry recipe which I loved, and am eager to try this one. Is there a way this recipe could be done in a slow cooker? If so, how much time and at what heat would you suggest? Thank you!

    • Yes! I would still brown the chicken in the pan for better flavor and sauté the onions in the pan, too. But you don’t have to — just tastes better. Then dump it all in the slow cooker but with a little less liquid — maybe 1 cup chicken stock and 3/4 cup coconut milk. There’s no evaporation in a slow cooker. You’re probably good with 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. 🙂

      • I make a double batch of this (with chicken) in a 22 quart cooker (the trough as it is know in my house!). The only thing I sauté are the onions and potatoes. I don’t the chicken as it will be in for 7-8 hours on low heat and seems to be rubbery if double cooked. I don’t reduce the liquid due to the 5 males in the house wanting more sauce to run through the rice (kind of like spaghetti though the noodles). This is one of my most favorite left over dishes as the flavors just get better after it has sat in the fridge. Reheating is soooo easy with just having to add a touch of water or chicken stock as it has set up/firmed up in the fridge. Thanks for putting the recipe on your site!!

        • Wow — 22 quart??!! I love all your suggestions, especially making it saucy and serving it over rice. Thank you!

  17. Can this recipe be made ahead of time and then reheated? If so, reheat on stove top? I don’t want the chicken to get over done when reheating. I’ve got a crazy kids and sports schedule on Wednesdays so would love to make today and have ready to reheat tomo

    • It sure can! Yes, reheat on the stovetop in a pot until warmed through. The chicken will still be delicious.

  18. So, I switched things up and made this tonight and the soup will be for tomorrow because it fit our schedule better. I love curry and this did not disappoint. The kids loved it too. My 7 year old son Camden said he liked it over the rice which was great because sometimes he doesn’t like his food all mixed together. Tomorrow is my day to volunteer at school so I will be taking some leftovers for lunch. I am going to use my leftover quinoa instead of rice. As always, thank you!

    • As always, thank YOU for your generous feedback!

      • You are quite welcome! I am so enjoying your recipes. I love making new things that I think my family will enjoy. I like having a big rotation for what I cook so finding new recipes makes me happy. 🙂

  19. Could I do 1 lb. of chicken and chickpeas(1-15 oz. can? or more?) or better to stick to one or the other? Looks great, going to try. Thanks as always .

    • Absolutely! I think it would be great!

  20. This recipe is amazing! I used almond butter and let it simmer for longer and the sauce got thick and delicious. My 1 and 3 year olds were licking the bowl!!

    • So good, right?? I have to make it this week!

  21. I made this last week and it was delicious. I used califlower, sweet potatoes and green beans in addition to the other ingredients. Wasn’t sure how warm my curry is (Penzey’s) so I only used 2 T. Perfect.

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, we just love them. When I make dinner and my husband raves now I just say it’s one of “Pamela’s” recipes. He has shared your website with friends at work.

    • What a great combo of vegetables! And thanks for sharing how much Penzey’s curry you used — always good to know. And thank your hubby for me too! 🙂

  22. The fact that I can have something healthy AND so flavorful and satisfying makes this one of my favorite dishes of all time and a weekly staple! I make it with almond butter and its great. I have two questions. 1- When you say “lightly brown” the chicken, do you mean to cook it all the way through, or does it finish cooking once added back in? 2- What peppers or spices do you recommend to make this much spicier? I’m trying one thai red pepper tonight..

    • I’m thrilled you feel that way! Making this spicier is easy. You can go the fresh chili pepper route as you mentioned and saute that with the ginger etc. You can also add more fresh ginger which definitely packs a punch. Or you can add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper when you are sauteeing ginger and garlic. You’ll have to play around until you get to what you’re looking for. Enjoy!

    • ooops, never responded to the first part of your question! you do not cook the chicken all the way through. you’re just trying to develop flavor through the color. it will finish cooking as you simmer the stew.

  23. I’m looking forward to trying this, but I was wondering if there is a substitute for the cashew butter. Maybe another type of nut butter?

    • You must try it! I have used peanut butter with success and I’m sure you could use almond butter, too. Let me know how it turns out!

      • Delicious! I asked my husband to make it last night- he ground almonds to sub for the cashew butter and we both really liked how the nuts added to the flavor and texture. And there are leftovers for dinner tonight! 🙂

        • Your husband is a keeper! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know about the almonds. I am always super interested to hear how you adapt recipes and how they work for you. This is great!

  24. Do you have a particular brand of coconut milk that you recommend? Also do you have any thoughts on low fat coconut milk? This looks delicious, I’m looking forward to trying it!

    • Yes! I buy Native Forest coconut milk which is supposed to be in BPA-free cans. I heard Trader Joe’s also uses BPA free cans for theirs, but I haven’t confirmed that. In general, I don’t use low-fat anything. I stick with things the way they came into this world :), but if that’s your only option, use it!

  25. Just tried this recipe and it was SO GOOD that I have no words to even describe it. I am speechless!!!!!!!

    • That’s cool! Thanks, Daniela 🙂

  26. This is an amazing recipe – flavorful, not too strong – I was amazed when my children said they loved it, because they stay far away from spices (I left the cilantro out). After a few bites, however, they announced it was too spicey for them. What is the best way to make this dish a little less spicey for the little ones – should I reduce the amount of curry powder I used? By the way, I used the Spicely Organic.

    • Yes, Marilyn. Just dial back the curry powder until you find a level that your kids like. Cut it in half to start just to be sure. Good luck!

  27. love it!!! best curry recipe i have tried. yummy!! husband and kids loved it.

    • Great to hear! Thanks for the feedback~

  28. I made this for dinner tonight – delicious! my only problem was my husband couldn’t eat it – he’s allergic to ginger and while i left out the chopped ginger, i learned that some curry spices have ginger already in them. do you know of any curry powders that don’t contain ginger? i want to make it again!!

      • Just checked the market and the “Simply Organic” brand does not contain ginger. You’re in luck!

  29. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  30. This is so delicious! Everyone in the family loved it — that never happens. Even my Mr. Picky liked it. The first time I made this the chicken (breast) got dry so I used large pieces and it came out great. Thanks Pamela

  31. I made this curry tonight and we all loved it. Why do you use coconut oil to brown the chicken? I used canola oil instead. Is there a nutritional reason to use it? I bought Whole Foods brand coconut milk and it was solid 1/2 way through the can. I mixed it with the water below but was surprised how much fat there was in each serving. I think I will use a low fat coconut milk next time. What are your thoughts about the fat content in coconut milk? This curry was really delicious!

    • Emily,

      My kids like this dish, too!
      I try to use coconut oil as much as possible when I cook with high or medium-high heat. Since coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is less susceptible to damage from heat than mono- and unsaturated fats like olive oil. Also the coconut flavor is very complementary in this dish. Please check out my pantry list to see why I’m not a fan of refined oils like canola. Coconut milk is not a low-fat food, but you’re not using that much and it’s a high quality fat — one which contains immunity-boosting compounds and is a medium-chain fatty acid that your body tends to use quickly as energy as opposed to being stored as fat. And good point about stirring the coconut milk really well when you open the can! The fat does rise to the top. Thanks!

  32. this was an amazing recipe. we used eggplant, chayote squash, and string beans. my girls (4 and 5) really enjoyed it. how do you make sure the cashew butter gets mixed well into the curry mixture?

    • It’s always good to hear when kids like a recipe! I just spoon the cashew butter right into the pot and give it a couple of good stirs until it’s mixed through. If you have trouble with the vegetables getting in the way, just move them off to the side and stir the cashew butter into an area with more liquid.

  33. The cold is still with us here on the East coast but this wonderful curry dish is a fabulous way to warm up! The seasonings are perfect for winter. My family loved it over brown basmati rice. I used cauliflower and green beans which made for a colorful dish when combined with the carrots and celery. By the way, instead of our usual glass of vino with dinner, we had cold beers which went well with the spices.

    • Glad those spices did their job. They actually having a warming thermal nature to them and can literally create some heat in the body without actually being spicy. This is one of the dishes my kids request most often!

  34. This recipe looks so good. I can’t wait to try it.

  35. This is one of my favorite recipes!!! We enjoy this dish so much!!

  36. This recipe is one of my favorites! My favorite vegetable combo is butternut squash, green beans and cauliflower.

  37. this looks amazing! can’t wait to try it!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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