Mamta's Kitchen

Chicken Curry Without Tomatoes or Yoghurt (Dairy Free)

Chicken Curry With No Tomatoes or Yoghurt

Mamta Gupta

This curry is specially for those who are allergic to dairy products and/or to the commonly eaten vegetables of the Nightshade family, because these may aggravate their arthritis and other conditions. These vegetables are the ones most of us eat every day, like potatoes, tomatoes. aubergine/eggplant, sweet/bell peppers, green chillies, cayenne pepper. If the person you are cooking for can not eat chillies or paprika powder either, use black peppers to give you curry some heat. The curry's colour will be different, but it will still taste pretty good. Here, I have used chillies and paprika.

If you are able to have gluten free yoghurt, add a couple of tablespoonful of it at the end, at step 12.

It is a myth that all Indian curries must have tomatoes or/and yoghurt or even onions. For more than half the year, tomatoes are not in season in India and are quite expensive to buy, so seldom used in curries by most people. Tinned tomatoes are not commonly available/used. For this simple reason, most curries can be, and are, made without tomatoes. In fact, many curries are made without even onions or garlic. Ginger is commonly used, but garlic is still not eaten by many, as it is considered a 'Tamsic' food. Therefore, most vegetarian curries can, and are, often made without these.

Serves 3


  • 6 chicken pieces of your choice, I have used drumstick here

  • 1 medium or 150 gm. onion, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 level tbsp. ginger, finely grated

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • 2-3 bay leaves*

  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick*

  • 2-3 brown cardamoms, cracked open*

  • 5-6 cloves*

  • 5-6 black peppercorns*

  • 1 tsp. chilli powder, adjust to taste (replace with black pepper powder, if the person you are cooking for is allergic to chilli pepper and paprika powder as well)

  • 2 tsp. paprika powder for colour (omit, if the person you are cooking for is allergic to chilli pepper and paprika powder as well)

  • 2 tsp. ground coriander seeds/coriander powder

  • 1 tsp. cumin seed powder

  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder

  • Salt to taste

  • Juice of half a lime/small lemon (to give some tartness that you will usually get from tomatoes or yoghurt)

  • 1/2 cup or 125 ml. water (less if frozen chicken is used, because that releases more water)

  • 1 tsp. ground Garam Masala

  • A handful of coriander leaves, chopped

  • *These are ingredients for Garam Masala. If you do not have individual ingredients, you can use garam masala, but it won’t give you the same intensity of flavour..


  1. Measure out all dry ingredients.

  2. Chop finely onion, ginger and garlic in a chopper or by hand.

  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or karahi.

  4. Add cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon, black cardamoms, black peppers and cloves. If you have young children in the family, you can omit black peppercorns and cloves.

  5. When cumin seeds crackle and begin to change colour (do not let them burn, they get bitter), add ground/chopped onion, ginger and garlic mix. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. This will help the spices to cook.

  6. Stir-fry on medium heat until onions becomes light brown. If your onions are purple, as the ones I have used in the pictures here, they may not be brown, but they will look fried, translucent and will begin to come off the pan.

  7. Add spices-chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and salt.

  8. As you are not using tomatoes, which give out water, add 1/4 cup of water. This will help to cook the spices without burning and coat the chicken pieces.

  9. When the fluid has evaporated and oil is seen at the edges of the mass, add chicken pieces and, stir fry until well coated.

  10. Add 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Turn heat down to low and cook covered, stirring from time to time. You can transfer it to a slow cooker at this point and cook according to cooker instructions.

  11. When the chicken is cooked, it begins to come off the bone, the gravy turns to a brighter colour and the fat separates. The gravy should be of custard consistency. If not, add a little more hot water to suit your requirements. It is better to add less water to start with and adjust later if the dish is looking too dry.

  12. If you are able to get hold of gluten free yoghurt, add 2-3 tablespoon here and stir it in. It will give the curry a little creaminess.

  13. Taste and adjust salt/chillies to taste and turn the heat off.

  14. Garnish with fresh coriander leave, if using. I don't usually, because my family do not like it.

  15. Serve with hot Naans or Chapatties.

  16. If serving children, remove any large whole spices that are easily seen e.g. bay leaves, cardamoms cinnamon stick etc.

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