Green Masala Chicken

Green Masala Chicken

One of the first things I learned about Dr. Jyotsna Mhatre, my mother-in-law and a psychiatrist from Mumbai who moved to the United States in 1974, was that she is an astonishingly good cook. The first time I went to her house, she put out a giant platter of herbaceous lamb kebabs with chutneys for dipping. The platter was meant to be overgenerous and welcoming, but my cousin and I gobbled up every single bite. Dr. Mhatre, whom I call Aai (Marathi for mother), came up with this quick, saucy stir-fry inspired by the bright flavors of kharouni, a sour-spicy-sweet shrimp and unripe mango dish she grew up eating. Many Indian American home cooks use jarred ginger and garlic pastes because they’re convenient, and they incorporate nicely for a smooth sauce. You can find them, as well the chutneys called for here, at any South Asian market, as well as online. Marinating tenderizes the chicken and rounds out the flavors, but it’s entirely optional. Aai sometimes swaps in peeled shrimp for the chicken, and tofu or chickpeas work well as vegetarian options.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, chutneys, garlic and ginger pastes, and yogurt. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Proceed right away, or cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  2. Step 2

    Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to a large, 12-inch lidded skillet. Warm the oil, uncovered, over high heat until shimmering, then decrease the heat to medium-high and add the chopped onion and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, put the lid on the skillet and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has gone from translucent to lightly golden, shrunken and soft.
  3. Step 3

    Return the heat to medium-high, scrape in the chicken along with all the marinade, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Put the lid back on, and cook for 2 more minutes. Uncover the skillet; the chicken should be just about cooked through and the sauce bubbling and thick. Cook for 2 to 4 more minutes to thicken the sauce (it shouldn’t be soupy), but be careful not to overcook the chicken.
  4. Step 4

    Serve over rice or other whole grains, or with flatbread like chapati on the side.