Bon Appetit Wednesday! Ancient Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Image credit: kspoddar

Image credit: kspoddar

Curry.  It’s a spiced dish with a definition that continues to change and expand as new chefs and even new regions of the world explore its flavorful possibilities. Today, curry is enjoyed in a multitude of forms. This week we’re bringing you the recipe for Chicken Curry in a Hurry so you can enjoy this dish even when you have a million other tasks vying for your time. And we’re also going to provide you with a quick history behind this ancient food so you can learn while you cook!

The original version of curry was being eaten in the Indus Valley approximately 4,500 years ago.[1] There were only three main ingredients in this variation: ginger, garlic and turmeric. Amazingly, archaeologists have been able to identify and date some remains of the spicy stew from 2,500 and 2,200 BCE[2] using a method called “starch grain analysis.” This potentially makes curry “the oldest continuously prepared cuisine on the planet.”[3] Even the pairing of curry with rice can be traced to this time period because the use of rice in Indus Valley civilizations is well-documented.[4]

When Europeans arrived in India they encountered its many delicious dishes and took an instant liking to curry. Of course, it wasn’t called curry at that point. The Europeans heard the Tamil[5] word kari, which means spiced sauce, and applied it to all of the thin dressings they encountered.[6] The word eventually morphed into the word we use today, curry.

While the Portuguese are credited with spreading the actual word curry,[7] the British were the true ambassadors for the spiced dish. They took the idea of the multi-spiced meal and embraced and expanded on it as they colonized various parts of the world. New spices were added and different types of curry popped up everywhere. Eventually, you could find a deliciously distinctive curry in places as diverse as Britain, the South Pacific, the Caribbean Islands and, of course, India itself.[8] The British remained perhaps the most passionate aficionados. The first curry recipe in English was written by Hannah Glasse and published in 1747. Glasse claimed to know how to make curry “the Indian way,” which to her meant a “gentle and aromatic stew” utilizing peppercorns and coriander.[9] Not everyone agreed with her and since that time, the debate in England over which curry is the truest curry has only become more hotly contested. And the British have only become more enamored with the cuisine over time, eventually adopting curry as a national dish.[10]

Today, it is easy to find curries to suit every taste and heat-tolerance. The palate-tingling dish is as richly varied as the beautiful civilization that originally gave birth to it. Most remarkably, its enduring appeal has lasted more than four millennia. Which prompts this final thought:  Who knows what delectable transformations are in its future?

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Image credit: John Kernick.

Image credit: John Kernick.

*Recipe courtesy of

Serves 6


  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 1 1/2 of tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (optional)
  • meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, sliced or shredded
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Add the yogurt and cream and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and tomatoes (if desired). Remove from heat.
  5. Divide the rice and chicken among individual bowls, spoon the sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the cilantro.


[1] Lawler, A. (2013, January 29). The Mystery of Curry. Retrieved August 17, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Taylor, A. (2013, November 10). Curry: Where did it come from? Retrieved August 17, 2014.

[5] A South Indian language.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Lawler, A.

[9] Controversy surrounds the true origins of Indian curry. (20, March 14). Retrieved August 17, 2014.

[10] Taylor, A.

4 responses to “Bon Appetit Wednesday! Ancient Chicken Curry in a Hurry

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! Asparagus with Curry Butter: The Ancient History of Golden, Buttery Deliciousness | AntiquityNOW

  2. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Herbs and Spices Day | AntiquityNOW

  3. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! Kids Take Over the Ancient Kitchen | AntiquityNOW

  4. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! Cook the World’s Oldest Curry Recipe | AntiquityNOW

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