turmeric chicken

$10.14 recipe / $1.69 serving

I fell in love with Indian food last year and have craved it ever since. I’ve experimented here and there but it’s still completely uncharted territory to me. I recently discovered the show Spice Goddess on the Cooking Channel and I watch it whenever I get a few spare minutes.

Last week I saw her make this Chicken South Indian Style and was totally inspired. Sure, I didn’t have *any* of the spices called for in the recipe, nor did I have time to go hunt them down, but cooking is all about improvising. My yellow jasmine rice is one of my all-time favorite recipes that I’ve ever made for the blog, so I decided to use a similar mix of spices for this recipe.

And of course, there is the jasmine rice. So simple, so aromatic, SO important. This dish just wouldn’t be the same without the jasmine rice. It’s worth hunting down if your local market doesn’t have it. Ethnic markets or major supermarkets with well stocked ethnic aisles should carry jasmine rice in large, 5 lb. bags, which will be a fraction of the cost of the small “gourmet” rice brands. Check the bottom shelf, it’s usually hiding there.

Turmeric Chicken

Turmeric Chicken

4.7 from 11 reviews
turmeric chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $10.14
Cost Per Serving: $1.69
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.22
  • ½ large red onion $0.65
  • 2 inches fresh ginger $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic $0.24
  • ½ Tbsp turmeric $0.07
  • ½ tsp cumin $0.03
  • ½ tsp cinnamon $0.03
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
  • 2 lb. chicken (breast or thigh) $3.98
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes $1.17
  • 1 (13. oz.) can coconut milk $2.15
  • to taste salt & pepper $0.05
  • ¼ bunch cilantro (optional) $0.20
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice $0.88
  1. Combine the jasmine rice with 3 cups of cold water in a medium pot. Place a lid on top and bring up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit undisturbed until you are ready to serve it.
  2. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger using a small cheese grater. Saute all three in a large pot over medium heat with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.
  3. When the onions have softened, add the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Dice the chicken and add to the pot. Saute until cooked through (7-10 minutes).
  4. Add the can of tomatoes and the bay leaf. Place a lid on top and let simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve the stewed chicken mixture over a heaping portion of rice. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top if desired.


turmeric chicken

Step By Step Photos

cook riceStar the rice first and it will be done by the time the chicken is cooked. Combine 2 cups of rice with 3 cups of water. Place a lid on top and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off after 30 minutes and let it sit undisturbed until you’re ready to serve.

onion garlic gingerDice the onion, mince the garlic (if using fresh), and grate the ginger with a cheese grater. You can peel the ginger with either a spoon or a vegetable peeler.

saute aromaticsSaute the onion, garlic, and ginger in a large pot over medium heat with olive oil.

spicesThis is the mix of spices that I used: bay leaf, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Super aromatic and delicious.

cook spicesAdd all of the spices except the bay leaf and saute for about 2 minutes.

add raw chickenCut the chicken into bite sized cubes and add it to the pot. You can use either chicken breast or chicken thighs.

cook chickenSaute until the chicken is cooked through (about 7-10 minutes).

coconut milk tomatoNow it’s time to add some liquid and let it simmer. I always forget the coconut milk curdles like cow’s milk so I made the mistake of adding them both at once.

simmer chickenI would suggest only adding the tomatoes at this point and waiting to add the coconut milk at the end. I added both – oops. So, add the tomatoes and bay leaf, place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

add coconut milkAfter it’s simmered a while, turn the heat off and then stir in the coconut milk. Because mine had been simmering in an acidic solution, it had curdled. It doesn’t taste bad, it just has an undesirable appearance. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.

fluff riceFluff the rice just before serving.

turmeric chickenSpoon the chicken along with a good amount of sauce over the rice. Top with fresh cilantro if desired.

Guaranteed to make your house smell good or your money back!

…wait, no, never mind.


  1. LaTrice says:

    This was my first time trying Turmeric Chicken, and honestly, it’s delicious!! I used four chicken breasts, split them in half, cut them up into bite sized pieces, and seasoned them. Once I added the unsweetened coconut milk, I seasoned the mixture, since I’m not a huge fan of bland food. My sister and I enjoyed this dish, and it’s definitely a keeper. Thank you, Beth!! :-)

  2. LaTrice says:

    I’m making the Turmeric Chicken for dinner this week, but I do have a question about coconut milk. Did you sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk? Thanks, Beth!! :-)

    • Unsweetened. The type that is in a can, not the type that is sold as a dairy milk substitute (that is much more watery than the canned variety). :)

  3. Heather says:

    Love this recipe! I make it all the time.
    Today though, I made a little more than I need. Could this be frozen?

  4. Making right now without coconut milk at all… used coconut oil for health bennies, however, I know that is not the same in the least :) but I’m just going to serve the chicken over the rice. Throwing a fresh tomato over it instead of diced tomatoes when I add the cilantro!! Those are my alterations for the people who have complained about the coconut milk. I may repost and let you all know how it turns out. It smells so inviting!!! Love the cinnamon and turmeric/cumin combo… these are all such healthy spices!!

  5. Maria says:

    Made this awhile ago with my friends and it was delicious, but subbed yellow onions for red because that’s all I had on hand, still turned out fine.

  6. Amanda says:

    This was delish!

  7. Susan says:

    Made this recipe for the second time in about two weeks last night. My husband and I are in love! I had never made Indian food before now, but this is so, so good. And easy!
    Love your blog and appreciate you helping me learn to branch out and save money!

  8. Nick S. says:

    I added freshly ground cashews during the half hour simmer to thicken it and subbed the cinnamon for garam masala. I’ll definitely make this again!

  9. Danyel says:

    Only added about 2/3 of the can of coconut milk, and added a heaping teaspoon of garam masala, then let is simmer a bit to thicken. Super good. Definitely making this again.

  10. Katy W says:

    Made this tonight for my husband and I. After adding the coconut milk, it was a bit bland and the flavors got kind of muddled–I had to add a lot of salt for it to really pop. I like other people’s ideas about adding cayenne pepper or lime juice…great recipe nonetheless!!

  11. Meghan Goodrich says:

    I tried this out again tonight with half chicken and half chickpeas for protein. Worked out great!

  12. Missy says:

    I just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! However, I made a few alterations. I don’t care for tomatoes or coconut milk, so I subbed in a chopped head of broccoli and 1 cup regular milk and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Turned out great! I will definitely be making this again.

  13. I really like the basic flavor of this recipe. The version I made came out quite liquid, so I served it over rice in bowls like a Thai curry.

    Because of that resemblance, I think it could be cheaply and deliciously bulked out with some potatoes (1-1.5 lb.) and carrots (3).

  14. sophie says:

    Made this dish tonight. It came out perfect! I added the coconut milk at the end and let it simmer on low. The sauce was smooth. But the coconut milk did make it a bit bland. It needed some brightness so I added some lime juice this really brought out the flavors… I’ve been wanting to try an easy Indian type dish. You made this very simple and now I’m game to try new dishes!! Thanks for the recipe!!

  15. quinn says:

    I made this recipe tonight and really liked it however I tweaked it up a bit. Added 2tbs raw cane sugar, used less than half the coconut milk, added lots of cayenne pepper for a kick and salted heavily. The flavors really came together and turned out great!

  16. Maggie says:

    I just made this and it’s absolutely delicious! A wonderful mix of flavours :)

  17. Amy – I can’t get the Pinterest buttons to work with this website, so I started a Pinterest site and you can repin them from there. http://pinterest.com/budgetbytes/ (there is an Indian board). Hopefully I’ll be building an all new site soon, with working Pinterest buttons :)

    I’d use the cayenne pepper in place of the crushed red pepper… but only use about 1/8 teaspoon.

    Glad you found the ginger conversion! :D

  18. I’m sorry, Beth, but, another question.. I don’t have crushed red pepper flakes but I have cayenne pepper and chile powder.. Would you use either of these as substitutes and if so, in what proportion? Thank you!! :)

  19. BY THE WAY, I found an article on livestrong.com that gives a ratio for fresh and ground ginger! Here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/482895-what-is-the-equivalent-of-fresh-ginger-root-vs-ground-ginger/

  20. Oh, I have a request! If it’s not too much trouble, can you add Pinterest buttons to your recipes? When I try to share them on Pinterest, the photos don’t show the dishes :( so I’ve been using the generic budget cover photo with the eggs.. which doesn’t make for a very appealing pin … Love ya!!!

  21. Beth, I will try this! I fell in love with Indian food as well. Not lamb, though, blech! I’m really thanking God for your blog, missy!! SO awesome!

  22. Anonymous says:

    It was bland! Had to douse it with salt, but was wonderful once I got flavor back after coconut milk was added in.

  23. Was fun to try a new dish, but as usually happens to me, the picture looks tastier than the final product. Nonetheless, When my wife and her sister walked in the house, they commented on the nice smell, so there is hope. I will give it another whirl in the future.

  24. Whitney H. says:

    I also love Indian food! This looks delicious! Oh, and your blog ROCKS! Why not eat good food and stay on budget!? I have been planning out my family’s meals monthly and most of the recipes are from your site. Thank you SO SO much for all the hard work and dedication you put into this site! It’s the best!

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