Creamy Indian Chicken Handi Curry Recipe

Chicken Handi is our favourite creamy Indian curry recipe to make at home.

In Indian kitchens Chicken Handi is traditionally prepared in a clay or copper pot called a handi. While the dish can also be prepared in a wok or large pot, the recipe gets its name from the vessel it is historically prepared and served.

Our mouthwatering Chicken Handi Curry recipe is thickened with creamy yogurt and rich whipping cream. It’s often compared to Butter Chicken thanks to its creamy texture and tomato, onion and chili based sauce.

We like to prepare Handi Curry with moist and tender chicken thighs. Spoon the dish over steamed basmati rice and enjoy with flatbreads like roti, naan or paratha.

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Save our Creamy Indian Chicken Handi Curry recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Chicken Handi?

Chicken Handi translates to “chicken in clay pot.”

Traditionally this North Indian curry is made in a clay pot, which imparts a unique flavour to the dish. Home cooks can use any heavy bottom pot, pan or wok instead of the traditional clay pot.

Chicken Handi is milder than other South Asian curries but still rich in flavour. The chicken is cooked in a creamy base of yogurt and cream, often compared to Butter Chicken.

Our homemade Handi Curry features tender and juicy chicken thighs cooked in a sauce featuring fragrant spices, onions, tomato, and chili. It achieves its desired velvety texture and decadent mouthfeel thanks to the addition of yogurt and whipping cream.

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Traditional Indian Chicken Handi Curry recipe ingredients.
Traditional Indian Chicken Handi Curry recipe ingredients.

Travel to India by Cooking Chicken Handi Curry at Home

I love traveling through Asia.

My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the PhilippinesIndonesiaMalaysiaSingaporeCambodiaLaosMyanmar, ThailandVietnamThe Maldives and India.

I spent over a month traveling through India. I started in the capital, eating my way through the bustling markets and fine dining restaurants in Delhi. I then embarked on a magical weekend getaway to awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in Agra. In India’s north you’ll find plenty of barbecue, wheat-based side dishes like naan bread and creamy Chicken Handi.

For the second half of my Indian adventure I explored the southern state of Kerala. The south is famous for its seafood, coconut, tropical fruits, and rice based side dishes like crispy dosa. The colonial capital of Cochin was formerly run by the Portuguese. It’s also one of the only places in India you can find beef on a menu.

After enjoying a jaunt to the Maldives my India trip came to a close in the Bollywood capital, bustling and cosmopolitan Mumbai. The city is famous for its specialty street foods and fine dining restaurants at opulent luxury hotels. The Taj Mahal Palace in particular serves one of the world’s most famous Afternoon Teas.

What I found most fascinating is India’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in FranceGermanyItaly or Spain, each city in India had its own local speciality.

After you’ve traveled to India, return home to prepare an authentic and fragrant feast for friends and family featuring this flavourful Chicken Handi Curry recipe!

Saute vegetables and spices in a large skillet.
Saute vegetables and spices in a large skillet.

Where To Eat Traditional Chicken Handi Curry

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to local Indian or Pakistani restaurants that serve Chicken Handi Curry.

Haven’t traveled to the Indian subcontinent before? It may be helpful to first sample Handi Curry at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can determine if you want to use chicken breasts or thighs, how thick and creamy to make the sauce, and complimentary South Asian dishes to serve at the table.

In Toronto, popular Indian and Pakistani restaurants that may serve Chicken Handi include Udupi PalaceLahore Tikka House and Kothur Indian Cuisine.

Our Chicken Handi recipe features thigh meat, which is more flavourful and tender than breast meat.
Our Chicken Handi recipe features thigh meat, which is more flavourful and tender than breast meat.

My Family Loves Chicken Handi

My family loves tasting different regional Indian dishes.

After I returned home from a tasty trip to India I wanted to recreate some of my favourite dishes.

I knew my family would enjoy this Chicken Handi recipe because they love classic Butter Chicken, creamy sauces and flavourful curries.

I like making this chicken curry any time of the year. I first prepared it on a hot day in the summer paired with bottles of cold craft beer. Since it’s a comfort food dish that is served hot it’s also popular on cold winter nights to help warm you up.

I most often like to prepare this Handi Curry when chicken thighs are on sale at the grocery store, or when I find I have a tray hiding in the back of my freezer that needs to be used up.

If you’re hosting a potluck dinner party I suggest making this Chicken Handi at home and asking your guests to bring side dishes and appetizers like samosa, pakora, and biryani.

If you’ve traveled to India on holiday there is no better way to share your culinary adventure at home with family and friends then by serving this tasty Chicken Handi recipe!

Spoon Chicken Handi Curry into bowls or plates.
Spoon Chicken Handi Curry into bowls or plates.

Health Benefits

Our homemade Chicken Handi recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Ginger contains at least 14 phytochemicals, many of which have impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a good source of copper, which supports your bones, blood and nervous system. 

A rich source of blood-building iron, cumin may also help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol. It is also traditionally used as a digestive aid.

Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.

Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss. 

The star component of turmeric is curcumin, a potent phytochemical that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is often prescribed in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve arthritis, aid digestion and inhibit the growth of cancers. 

A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals. 

Packed with calcium and friendly probiotic bacteria, sour cream and yogurt help keep your bones strong and your gut healthy. Yogurt may also help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer. 

Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods. 

Flavour Chicken Handi with finely chopped cilantro.
Flavour Chicken Handi with finely chopped cilantro.

Chicken Handi Recipe Cooking Tips

If it’s your first time cooking Chicken Handi be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.

  • If you want to make authentic Chicken Handi you can purchase a copper handi to serve the dish in. Otherwise, use a wok or large pot.
  • We’ve used skinless boneless chicken thighs as they’re tender and moist. You can use chunks of chicken breast if you prefer or even make the dish with bone-in chicken, which adds additional flavour.
  • We’ve used 4 green chilies in this recipe. If you like spicy food keep the seeds in the sauce but if you do not like hot food remove the seeds before adding to the curry.
  • We’ved used 0% Greek Yogurt in this recipe but you can substitute for a fattier variety if you prefer.
  • We’ve used full fat whipping cream in this recipe but you can substitute for a lower fat option like 18% table cream. It will produce a thinner curry sauce.
  • We’ve used freshly minced ginger and garlic in this recipe but you can use bottled ginger garlic paste as a substitute.
Top Chicken Handi bowls with finely sliced ginger.
Top Chicken Handi bowls with finely sliced ginger.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken Handi is one of our favourite Indian curries. We like preparing it for people who love Butter Chicken as its similar thanks to its cream-based spiced tomato sauce.

We suggest preparing Handi Curry for dinner and doubling the recipe so you can enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. Leftovers also freeze well and can be stored for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

We suggest serving Chicken Handi Curry alongside steamed rice or a selection of flatbreads like naan and paratha. If you’re looking to impress guests at a dinner party add several courses by serving fresh salads, soups, and dal.

If you’re hosting a large Indian-themed potluck or buffet you may want to serve this Chicken Handi recipe with:

Chicken Handi Curry Photo Image.
Chicken Handi Curry Photo Image.

What Is Handi In Indian Food & What Does Handi Mean In English?

A handi is a cooking basin made from a copper or clay pot originating in the Indian subcontinent. It is utilised primarily in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cooking.

You’ll likely recognize the handi dish as a deep, narrow-mouthed vessel used at restaurants that specialize in north Indian, Pakistani and Bengali cuisine. They typically arrive at the table filled with steaming curries or masalas.

Is Chicken Handi Like Butter Chicken?

Chicken Handi has the same rich taste as butter chicken but with a quarter of the effort that goes into making that famous but involved dish. Both dishes features whipping cream, a delicious option for those looking to make a decadent chicken curry.

Now you're an expert on how to make an easy traditional Chicken Handi recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make an easy traditional Chicken Handi recipe!

How To Make Homemade Chicken Handi

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Chicken Handi Curry

How to make traditional Chicken Handi. Our easy homemade Chicken Handi recipe is a creamy curry similar to Butter Chicken.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chicken Handi
Servings: 6
Calories: 517kcal


  • French knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Skillet
  • Wooden spoon or spatula


  • 1/4 cup Butter or Ghee
  • 1 Large Red Onion minced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes diced
  • 4 Green Chilies sliced
  • 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 800 g Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs sliced
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • Bunch Cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 inches Ginger peeled, julienned


  • Heat the butter/ghee in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Once hot add the onions and fry for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and green chilies and stir to combine.
  • Stir in the ground spices and mix to combine. Toss in the chicken thighs and stir for 3-4 minutes to brown the meat in the sauce mixture. Add the water, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and stock has thickened.
  • Stir in the yogurt and continue to simmer then add the cream. Sprinkle with fenugreek followed by the garam masala. Season with salt and serve garnished with cilantro and julienned ginger.


Calories: 517kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 64.8g | Fat: 19.6g | Saturated Fat: 8.6g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 271mg | Potassium: 1031mg | Fiber: 2.5g | Sugar: 14.2g | Calcium: 321mg | Iron: 3mg

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