A French chicken curry


I bet the title has got you smiling.  It certainly made me smile.  What next?  I guess each country puts its stamp on cuisine from other nations.

Sometimes, inspiration for dinner is hard to come by.  I had just flicked through Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of India (a great book, BTW) and had not been inspired.  I was thinking “chicken” but I was in one of those moods where everything sounded like too much effort.  I decided to pass the “What’s for dinner?” baton to Maus.

Maus started flicking through one of her favourite cookbooks: The Seasonal Kitchen by Beverley Sutherland Smith.  I had just told her “think chicken” when she said,  “What about a French chicken curry?”  I was on the verge of mocking her for being silly when she mentioned the magical word “tomatoes”.  “How many tomatoes?,” I asked.  “Three large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped.”  Within a second, I had Googled “How much does a large tomato weigh?”  Answer: 200g.  That is 600g of tomatoes.  I was interested.  Maus then read out the method which included putting the sauce through a mouli.  Perfect.  No need to worry about skins – cherry tomatoes would be perfect.  I was sold.

Ms Sutherland Smith admits this sounds like an unlikely dish (she is dead right).  She goes on to say she first ate it in a wonderful little restaurant set close to the forest in the artists’ town of Barbizon, just outside of Paris.  That clearly explains the title.

Ok, this is not traditional Indian curry, full of complex flavours and robustness, but the sauce is quite lovely and creamy (well, it is French), takes no effort at all to make and is rather delightful.  I would be happy to make it again.  I think it would be lovely with prawns.  Make the sauce then gently poach some green prawns in it until cooked – only a minute or two.  That would make a tasty, extremely quick meal.  I might try it.  I have some green prawns in the freezer.

If you use fresh tomatoes, you will probably need to add a fair bit of salt and some  sugar.  If using tinned tomatoes, just taste the sauce before you add the cream and see what you think.  Serves 4.


  • olive oil, about 3 tbs
  • butter, 30g
  • 8 chicken portions, such as legs and thighs or a whole chicken cut into eight portions
  • salt and pepper

Curry sauce:

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • oil
  • 600g of tinned or fresh tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs (40mils) mild curry powder
  • reserved fluid from cooking the chicken
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • ⅓ cup thick/double cream
  • sugar, salt and pepper to season
  • finely chopped parsley or coriander to garnish
  • browned blanched almonds, to garnish (Eek! I forgot the almonds.  Oh, well…)


  1. Season the chicken pieces.   Heat the oil and butter in a saute pan with a lid and brown the chicken.
  2. Add about ½ a cup of water, cover the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.  Reserve the liquid.
  3. Heat some oil in the same pan and very gently fry the onion until soft and translucent.  Do not rush this part.  If the onions begin to brown, add a bit of water.  I must reiterate this point.  Do not proceed until your onions are soft and translucent.  So many people undercook their onions.
  4. Add the tomatoes, garlic and curry powder and fry for a minute or two.
  5. Add the reserved liquid and cover the pan.  Cook gently for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the apple and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until everything is very soft.
  7. Purée the sauce in a food processor or blender and then put through a mouli.  Putting the sauce through a mouli is optional but it does make a smoother sauce.  Also, if you used fresh tomatoes and did not peel them, it will remove the peel.  If you used tinned tomatoes, you may choose not to sieve the sauce.
  8. Return the sauce to the pan.  Taste it and add salt and pepper and sugar, if necessary.
  9. Add the cream, and bring back to just below a boil.
  10. Add the chicken and spoon the sauce over it to coat and heat the chicken.  Do this very gently.  I did not boil my sauce as I was concerned it may curdle.
  11. Scatter coriander (or parsley) and almonds (if you remember) on top.

Hey, I just had a thought.  I bet this sauce could be made in a Thermomix or other all-in-one kitchen device.  Mmmmmm, do I need one?


22 thoughts on “A French chicken curry

  1. Hi Glenda – Colin here – made this the other night and it was great – tasted better than any curry paste I have bought (and yes I did cook the onions properly)

  2. I wouldn’t care what you called this chicken as long as you didn’t forget to call me! I love this idea and it does indeed sound like the food I grew up with. I definitely want this.

  3. no you don’t need a Thermomix, the $2000 they cost would buy you a ticket to Paris to eat the curry. You need sound proof ear muffs as well as the machine makes soooo much noise when running. Glad you found another dish to use your tomatoes.

    • Hi Robyn. It is getting pretty cold for my tomatoes maybe the search can come to an end soon. Thermomixes get good reviews, it is just that I have every kitchen appliance there is, so I don’t now really want one that will ‘replace them all’.

  4. Your quest to use up those cherry tomatoes certainly makes me smile. Amazingly, this recipe is almost exactly like one I use to make turkey curry after Christmas. The only thing different is the fact that I put a little mango chutney into the curry (as well as serving it alongside). The curry has become a family tradition, but now I will need to call it French!

    • Hi Debi, a little mango chutney would be a real treat. I think you can only call it French if you eat it in France otherwise it is an English curry ( 🙂 ) and I believe some of the best curries in the world are English.

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