turmeric chicken

$10.14 recipe / $1.69 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.68 from 31 votes
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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

Top view of a bowl of Turmeric Chicken on white rice

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Turmeric Chicken

4.68 from 31 votes
A creamy and spicy dish, turmeric chicken will not leave your taste buds wanting more.
Servings 6
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 55 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.22)
  • 1/2 red onion ($0.65)
  • 2 inches fresh ginger ($0.30)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic ($0.24)
  • 1/2 Tbsp turmeric ($0.07)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 whole bay leaf ($0.15)
  • 2 lb. chicken, breast or thigh ($3.98)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($1.17)
  • 1 13.5oz. can coconut milk ($2.15)
  • salt & pepper to taste ($0.05)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (optional) ($0.20)
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice ($0.88)


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 642.95kcalCarbohydrates: 56.67gProtein: 39.1gFat: 28.93gSodium: 739.67mgFiber: 2.23g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Bowl of turmeric chicken on white rice

Step By Step Photos

rice in a pan ready to cook
Star 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 and ginger on countertop
Dice 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.

Onion, garlic and ginger ready to sauté in pot
Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in a large pot over medium heat with olive oil.

spices ready to mix in bowl
This is the mix of spices that I used: bay leaf, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Super aromatic and delicious.

spices added to pot with onion mixture
Add all of the spices except the bay leaf and saute for about 2 minutes.

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

chicken and other ingredients cooked in pot
Saute until the chicken is cooked through (about 7-10 minutes).

can of coconut milk and a can of diced tomatoes
Now 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.

broth ingredients added to pot of chicken and other ingredients
I 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.

coconut milk added to curry pot
After 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.

fluffed white rice in pot
Fluff the rice just before serving.

close up of a fork of turmeric chicken
Spoon 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.

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  1. I followed the recipe exactly (except I waited to add the coconut milk as suggested). I noticed that Beth used fire roasted tomatoes and lite coconut milk in the photos, so I did too. The tomatoes had really good flavor, I don’t think regular would have been as tasty.

    I only had regular coconut milk, so I saved half the can for something else and replaced the missing milk with water. Coconut milk has more than doubled in price where I live due to the pandemic, so I wanted to stretch it haha. Frugal tip— you’re just paying for water when you buy lite!

  2. Ended up tweaking the recipe a little. Also, added spinach. So good! I love how simple and inexpensive it was. We already had all of the ingredients- love recipes like that! 

    1. So good, i omitted the cruahed red pepper and used tomato sauce instead of diced, I added peas too.

  3. Our newest favorite: simple, easy, cheap, healthy, and tasty. We serve over spaghetti squash for my wife’s BLE diet which avoids rice and needs insane amounts of veggies.

  4. This is breathtakingly good! We have a great little Indian restaurant in town, and I’ve been craving them like crazy during quarantine. I decided to give this a try along with your wonderful easy Naan (https://www.budgetbytes.com/naan/) and it was INCREDIBLE!! Super similar to the restaurant’s great flavours. We may or may not have totally pigged out on it. It was so so good and really not that much effort.

  5. Has anyone tried halfing this recipe? If cooking for one person I feel this would be a LOT of food that I would be unable to finish. Thanks!

    1. Did you know that all of the recipes on Budget Bytes have adjustable serving sizes? Simply put in 1 or 2 in the serving size box and the recipe will adjust. Hope that helps to keep your meals fresh and not have a lot of excess for leftovers.

  6. How much does the two inches of ginger translate into tablespoons. I have some frozen ginger that is already grated. Yeah, I’m lazy!

  7. Do you have nutrition information for this recipe? Love it! But is it good for me? Lol…

  8. I am making this right now, and I’m at the simmering stage and just tasted it. It tastes a little bitter–should it have a bitter taste due to the turmeric?