Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan Recipe

Chicken Salan is our favourite traditional Pakistani Curry to make at home.

Our easy Chicken Salan recipe is a healthy main course dish that is popular on restaurant menus in Pakistan and Northern India.

Our take on Pakistani Curry is prepared with tender chicken thighs that simmer in a spicy tomato masala sauce featuring fragrant spices and fresh herbs.

Serve Chicken Salan Curry with chopped cilantro, steamed rice and flatbread like naan or roti.

This Chicken Salan recipe is dairy free and gluten free.

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Save our Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan recipe to Pinterest!
Save our Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Chicken Salan?

Chicken Salan, also known as Chicken ka Salan, is an authentic Pakistani curry that is also popular in Northern India.

This authentic Pakistani Curry recipe is famous for being a comfort food and is celebrated for its simplicity.

The main difference between this curry and many other chicken curries is the “shorba” or “salan,” which translates to “gravy” or “curry sauce.”

Chicken Salan has a thinner, soup-like consistency, so it’s perfect for dipping with roti or naan, or scooping up with steamed rice and biryani.

We like to make this Pakistani Chicken Curry with thighs but you can also use drumsticks.

Homemade Pakistani Chicken Salan recipe ingredients.
Homemade Pakistani Chicken Salan recipe ingredients.

Travel to India and Pakistan by Cooking Chicken Salan 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 scorched naan bread and Pakistani-style curries.

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 and Thakkali Biryani. 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 Pakistan or Northern India, return home to prepare an authentic and fragrant feast for friends and family featuring this flavourful Chicken Salan recipe!

Pakistani Curry Chicken is flavoured with onions, chili, garlic, ginger, tomato and fragrant spices.
Pakistani Curry Chicken is flavoured with onions, chili, garlic, ginger, tomato and fragrant spices.

Where To Eat Chicken Salan Curry

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

Haven’t traveled to India before? It may be helpful to first sample Chicken Salan at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can assess the ideal thickness of the masala gravy, how spicy you want to make the sauce and what part of the chicken to use.

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

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Cook chicken thighs in a large skillet until the skin is browned and crispy.
Cook chicken thighs in a large skillet until the skin is browned and crispy.

My Family Loves Pakistani Chicken Curry

My family loves Indian and Pakistani food.

When I was a kid if my parents had had a long week at work we’d order Indian takeout. My sister and I loved feasting on crispy pakoras and samosas and we’d all share a selection of creamy curries. My dad has a penchant for Pakistani flatbread like naan and roti, which we’d use to wipe our plates clean with at the end of each spicy feast.

After traveling to Northern India as a travel journalist I had a chance to taste several authentic Pakistani-style dishes. I fell in love with Chicken Salan so was excited to introduce my family to the simple and comforting Pakistani curry.

When I cooked this easy Chicken Salan recipe for my parents their eyes bulged with glee. I knew they’d both enjoy the dish because they love flavourful curry sauces and tender chicken thighs. Since the curry sauce is thinner than usual, it was a great excuse to serve toasted garlic naan at the table.

If you’ve traveled to India or Pakistan on holiday there is no better way to share your adventure at home with family and friends at home then by serving a comforting bowl of tender Chicken Salan.

Chicken Salan Variations

This curry recipe is super simple and acts as a base that you can add additional ingredients. Once you’ve mastered the recipe feel free to add additional ingredients to make the dish more complex and interesting like:

  • Diced Potato
  • Green Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Boiled Egg
  • Chopped Pumpkin or Squash
  • Tender Paneer
  • Thick Yogurt or Cream
Pakistani Curry sauce.
Pakistani Curry sauce.

Health Benefits

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

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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

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.

Cardamom contains phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

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

Traditional Pakistani Curry Chicken recipe.
Traditional Pakistani Curry Chicken recipe.

Chicken Salan Recipe Cooking Tips

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

  • We suggest cooking this curry in a large nonstick skillet so the chicken skin sears until crispy and crunchy.
  • We suggest buying skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs as the fat gives the masala gravy a rich poultry flavour. You can also substitute for chicken drumsticks. We do not suggest using chicken breasts as the meat dries out and gets tough too quickly.
  • We’ve tossed the vegetables in flavourless canola oil but you can substitute for coconut oil, mustard seed oil or peanut oil for additional flavour.
  • We’ve used red onions in this recipe but you can substitute for Spanish cooking onions, white onions or vidalia onions.
  • If you like spicy food add the seeds of the chillies into the sauce. If you are looking to make a mild chicken salan discard the seeds and only add the chopped chili.
  • We’ve used canned diced tomatoes in this recipe but you can substitue for chopped fresh tomatoes if you prefer.
Garnish Chicken Salan with finely chopped cilantro.
Garnish Chicken Salan with finely chopped cilantro.

What To Serve with Pakistani Chicken Curry

Chicken Salan is one of our favourite Pakistani Curry recipes to make at home.

We like to serve the healthy main course dish at a North Indian or Pakistani-inspired dinner party. Serve the fragrant curry with a selection of warm flatbread, like naan or roti, as well as steamed basmati rice or biryani.

If you’re hosting a potluck or buffet you may also want to prepare some of these popular Indian and Pakistani recipes:

Now you're an expert on how to make the best homemade Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best homemade Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan recipe!

You May Also Enjoy These Curry Recipes…

How To Make Pakistani CurryChicken Salan

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pakistani Curry Chicken Salan

How to make Chicken Salan. Our easy Pakistani Curry features tender thighs smothered in a spicy masala gravy sauce. Garnish with cilantro.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Pakistani
Keyword: Chicken Salan
Servings: 6
Calories: 446kcal


  • French knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Large Skillet
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Food processor
  • baking sheet


  • 4 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 Large Red Onion chopped
  • 1/2 inch Ginger peeled and minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove crushed
  • 2 Green Chilies finely chopped
  • 14 oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Tomato Paste
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1 kg Bone in Skin on Chicken Thighs
  • 1/2 cup Water

Ground Spices

  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds


  • 1/4 cup Cilantro


  • Ground Spices: grind all the spices in a food processor and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, place the chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from the pan and let rest on a baking sheet.
  • Add the onions to the hot pan and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden. Add the ginger, garlic, green chiles and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground spices, reserving a teaspoon of the spices to garnish. Cook for 10-15 minutes until everything is caramelized.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, chili, and turmeric then turn the heat to medium and stir fry. Cook for 20 minutes until you achieve a thick, rich sauce.
  • Turn off the heat, let the tomato mixture cool, then blitz in a blender until smooth. Add 5-6 tablespoons of water to ensure the sauce isn't too thick. Return to the pan, add the cooked chicken thighs and 1/4 cup of water and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until you start to see the oil separate from the sauce, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of the reserved spice blend. Serve with basmati rice, chapati or fresh salad.


Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 30.7g | Fat: 34.6g | Saturated Fat: 8.1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 136mg | Potassium: 271mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 3.5g | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg

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