South-Indian Style Yogurt Curry with Aubergine and Chicken

I’ll never forget the moment I realised (watching Myna Street Food Youtube channel) the existence of delicious, creamy Indian curries with no trace of cream or coconut milk. Since this fantastic discovery I must have prepared at least twenty yogurt curries, but this most recent version was the absolute number one (even though my yoghurt has curdled as you might see above!). I guess the seasonal aubergine, the super ripe fresh tomatoes and my own home-grown curry leaves were the main reasons for this difference, but I’m sure this combination of spices and flavours will be fantastic in any time of the year. Indian curry recipes have usually either a vegetable or a protein source only, but I like combining both : thus I don’t need to prepare any side dish (though Indian pickles, such as these chillies, are a perfect addition). In short, it’s a wonderful healthy summery light stew, quick to prepare easy to reheat and perfect also with some Western bread.

TIPS: Feel free to change the below amounts of spices; I’m sure they’ll differ in my future cooking sessions anyway. I’ve been cooking Indian for some time and even though I still feel quite ignorant, I’ve become bolder with the use of spices (also thanks to certain Indian Youtube videos where the amounts aren’t indicated and which force users to be creative!). I know which spices I’m fond of, so I use more of these and in general I now try not to look at the indicated amounts (unless it’s a powdered spices mixture!).

Curry leaves: if you don’t have curry leaves, just skip them; the remaining spices are much more important for the final flavours. You can buy them in Indian and Sri Lankan grocery shops (ask for them : in my grocery shops they are delivered rarely and usually quickly disappear), also online (not necessarily grown abroad!). Buy a big amount and freeze in small portions: it’s better than dried form which I don’t advise because there isn’t much aroma left and dried leaves are too tough to be eaten (while fresh soft curry leaves can be eaten, are absolutely delicious and also healthy, from what I’ve read).

I still don’t know why sometimes yogurt in my curries curdles and sometimes it doesn’t even though I prepare the dish in more or less the same way…. I should read more about avoiding this phenomenon. This time it has curdled but the result was still amazingly good, so I didn’t care. The only way I’m sure the yogurt won’t curdle is when it’s added after the cooking process, stirred into the curry just before serving.

Spices: all the below spices can be bought online (and in grocery shops of course), but you can also find some of them in organic shops (and sometimes in pharmacies!). If you cook Indian even only twice a month, the worst thing you can do is buy spices in these supermarket tiny glass jars… the spices usually have no aroma and are also horribly expensive per kilo (all this is of course my experience).

Reheating: this curry  keeps for several days in the fridge and is excellent reheated (I’ve made a big batch and had it for three meals this week), but make sure you don’t add the yogurt before refrigeration. Add it either before the reheating process or just before serving.

Preparation: about 40-50 minutes

Ingredients (serves three-four):

1 big aubergine, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 medium chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 tablespoons oil


a small handful of fresh or frozen curry leaves

1 heaped teaspoon of nigella seeds

1 flat teaspoon fennel seeds

1 flat teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds

1 flat teaspoon cumin seeds

2-3 medium hot fresh green chillies, sliced

3 medium Western shallots, chopped (or 4-5 Asian shallots, or 1 big onion)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated

1 big ripe tomato (peeled or not), chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon mild chilli powder (I use Kashmiri chilli powder)

250 ml natural yogurt (I’ve used Greek-style yogurt)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a big pan and stir-fry at medium heat until slightly browned and soft. Put aside.

Heat the remaining oil in another pan, add the whole seeds (cumin, mustard, fennel and nigella) and curry leaves and stir fry at medium heat until the seeds start popping.

Put aside and add the shallots/onion and the green chilli. Stir-fry until the shallots soften.

Now add the garlic and the ginger, stir-fry for a minute.

Add the chopped tomato, the turmeric and the chilli powder and stir-fry until the tomato falls into pieces and becomes a paste.

Finally add the yogurt and when the sauce starts simmering, add the chicken and the aubergine.

Simmer until the chicken is done.

You can serve sprinkled with fresh coriander.

10 Replies to “South-Indian Style Yogurt Curry with Aubergine and Chicken”

  1. Indian food … haven’t had it in quite a while. Always delicious and I like the fact that you used the yogurt instead of the coconut milk too. I think that’s more common in Thai/Vietnamese cooking.

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn! Unfortunately it wasn’t my idea (I took it from South-Indian recipes). I have never heard of the use of yogurt in Vietnamese or Thai cuisine (of course I’m not an expert!), while in India it’s very widely used.

        1. Oh, I understand now! In India, from what I’ve observed, coconut milk is much more used in the South.

  2. You love aubergine, don’t you? 🙂 And as a result you come up with some of the most creative recipes. Wish I loved it as much as you. I’d try every one of them. Both this one and your last one look fabulous. I had to pull up my aubergine plants. We had a major hailstorm come through and they just didn’t come back. However, the pepper plants did. YAY! Another fabulous recipe Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ! You know, I used to dislike it (maybe because my mum didn’t know how to cook it…) but nowadays the only vegetable I hate is pumpkin (which by the way arrives soon…). I even like bitter cucumber/gourd! This curry (I mean the sauce) can be made with any vegetable or meat (I have already made it successfully with sweet peppers and courgettes!). I actually plan to make the sauce (without the yogurt) and then add the meat/vegetables during the week (with yogurt) because it’s such a great basis!
      I’m so sorry for you aubergines and other hailstorm victims… I’m glad peppers have survived! Whenever we have hailstorm I’m so worried about my plants… but luckily they are partially protected on the balcony.

  3. The Hungarians add a tablespoon of flour to 250 mL yogurt to prevent curdling, it works like a charm.
    I love curries but I sometimes find them too rich, so a yogurt curry sounds absolutely perfect. It has been so hot and humid here, I will wait to try this lovely recipe for when it cools down.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva and thank you for reminding me about this trick! I remember now you’ve told me about it once… It’s strange but when it’s hot I crave two things: salads and Indian curries (weird, I know!). Well, also sometimes “raw” springrolls and wraps.

  4. This sounds wonderful. I haven’t made curry with yogurt quite as often, but I do cook them sometimes and they are great. I always mix the yogurt with a small amount of flour or cornstarch to stop it from curdling. And I add it at the end of the cooking time most of the times and don’t let it come to a boil. I absolutely love curries with aubergines, I would have to try this recipe soon.

    1. Thank you so much, Adina. And thank you for the tip! I’ll definitely try both the flour that Eva has advised me too and then cornstarch and see which one I prefer.

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