Pre-Cooked Chicken

This recipe yields a batch of pre-cooked chicken to be used when cooking curries. It produces about five to six generous portions of 200g. If cooked and stored properly, the chicken remains tender. Boneless and skinless chicken breasts are normally used in BIR cooking, which reflects the British preference in restaurant curries.

Substitute with thighs instead for a tastier, cheaper alternative with a different texture.
The recipe can be scaled up (or down) to make more.


  • 1½Kg Chicken Breasts or Thighs (trimmed, boneless and skinless)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Whole Spices for simmering the Chicken:
    • 3 Cloves
    • 1-2 large Bay Leaves (Asian Bay Tej Patta preferable)
    • 10-15 cm Cassia Bark
    • 3 Green Cardamoms (split open)
    • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds (optional)


  • 90-120ml Oil (6-8 TBSP)
  • Whole Spices for the sauce:
    • 1-2 large Bay Leaves (Asian Bay Tej Patta preferable)
    • 10-15cm Cassia Bark
    • 1½ TBSP Ginger/Garlic Paste
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Purée (double concentrated)
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • 200-300ml Base Gravy (heated up)
  • 150-200ml Water


  1. Chop the chicken into even 4-6cm size pieces.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to a simmer and add the chicken, turmeric and whole spices.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes for breast or 20–25 minutes for thigh. Stir occasionally.
  4. Remove the chicken and soak in cold water to cool and stop the cooking process, then place into a container and cover.
  5. The chicken needs an aromatic sauce to cover it and marinate it post-cooking. You can make this sauce whilst the chicken is simmering to save time…
  6. Add 3-4 TBSP oil to a large frying pan on medium high heat.
  7. Throw in the bay leaves and cassia bark. Fry for 45-60 seconds, stirring to infuse the oil.
  8. Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir fry until the sizzling sound reduces.
    Now add the tomato purée and salt.
  9. Fry for another 30-40 seconds, stirring the tomato purée into the mixture..


  1. Pour in 200-300ml of base gravy and another 3-4 TBSP of oil. The extra oil will help coat the chicken pieces and keep them moist. You can add the extra oil in at the beginning if you wish. I prefer not to start with the extra oil to help avoid splattering
  2. Stir well, then leave to cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes with minimal interference.
  3. During this time allow the sauce to reduce, but top up with extra water towards the end so that the final consistency is like a very thin curry. This is important to ensure that there is enough sauce to coat the chicken pieces.
  4. Now pour the sauce over the chicken in the container. Mix gently to ensure all the chicken pieces are coated with the sauce. Remove the whole spices when you see them.
  5. Allow to cool, cover, and refrigerate. The pre-cooked chicken will keep safely for 3-4 days in the fridge.
  6. Alternatively, to freeze, empty into airtight freezer bags in individual portion sizes, making sure to use plenty of the extra sauce to coat the chicken generously. Use within 3 months.


  • Always keep raw chicken away from other ingredients, and thoroughly clean everything that has been in contact with it.
  • All spoon measurements are level, i.e. 1 tsp=5 ml, 1 TBSP=15ml.
  • If scaling the recipe up to make more you will need a larger frying pan, wok, or pan to accommodate making the extra sauce.
  • You can keep the remaining liquid for other uses, for example cooking rice or enhancing a curry.
Watch the Video

Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook


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