Chicken shorva is a spicy, flavorful, stew-like curry served alongside rice and flatbreads. Easy to prepare with basic Indian spices, it is a great recipe for daily menus and for special occasions.
Shorva is a common preparation in some regions of Telangana. It is a main dish paired with plain rice, vegetable bagara and flatbreads. Popular Indian shorba is a soup and shorva is a soup/stew like curry. It has consistency thinner than that of a curry.
Traditionally, shorva is prepared cooking the meat or vegetables in an onion & yogurt base along with garam masala, dry coconut and poppy seeds. These days many have opted not to use poppy seeds due to health concerns and I too use it occasionally.
The rustic, traditional recipe is without tomato but in recent versions, it is a must. Since I cook shorva almost every other day, I skip poppy seeds and prepare shorva with or without tomato, depending on my mood. Today’s version is without tomatoes.
Mutton shorva and kodi (chicken) shorva are the two most common meat preparations in home kitchens. And the vegetable versions are tomato shorva or egg tomato shorva, sorakaya shorva and cauliflower tomato shorva.
Fresh lima beans and green peas are a good addition to both meat and vegetable versions of shovra. Bendakya shorva is not very common but it is equally good, especially with desi okra and the one with desi okra was my father in law's favorite.
- Chicken - use chicken with bone for a flavorful shorva. Juices from the bone enhance the flavor. Hence I use whole chicken as it has both bone and boneless meat. In the recipe below, I used ½ whole chicken.
- Yogurt - is used to thicken the gravy. If using tomato, cut back on yogurt.
- Onion - is the base for the gravy. I usually use finely chopped or roasted and ground onion paste. Check the meal prep section below for more on the onion paste.
- Garam Masala - for daily cooking I use either whole garam masala or powder. When entertaining, I use a combination of both. In this recipe I used whole spices when sauteing onions.
- Dry Coconut - I use sliced dry coconut from the Indian store or Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes. Grind the slices or flakes to a powder in a spice grinder. Sometimes I add cardamom seeds as well.
- Poppy Seeds - I do not use the seeds on a regular basis. When I do use it, I powder the seeds into a fine powder. Alternately, you can soak in some water and grind to a fine paste using very little water.
- Other Spices - Chili powder, coriander powder, methi powder (opt) and turmeric.
- Oil - be generous with oil and shorva tastes good with a thin layer of oil floating on top.
Meal Prep Ideas
Chicken - Marinate chicken (kodi) with ginger garlic paste and dry spices. Store in the fridge for a day or two. Freeze marinated chicken in Ziploc bags or reusable silicone bags for later use. Spices seep into the meat and tastes better.
Before using, thaw chicken completely; overnight in the refrigerator or keep it in warm water for couple of hours.
Onion Paste - Roast onions in some oil, cool and grind to a coarse or fine paste. This paste gives a smooth texture to shorva. Make the paste ahead of time and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
To make it even more convenient, add all the spices when roasting onions as in this roasted onion paste recipe. When preparing kodi shorva, saute a few onion, ginger garlic paste and then add roasted onion paste.
Use chicken pieces with meat. My preference is to cut up whole chicken. Or use a combination of thighs with bone, drumsticks and breast pieces with or without bone.
Step 1: Rub chili powder, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste and pinch of turmeric into chicken pieces. Marinate for 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Step 2: Heat oil in a pan. Roast whole spices and shah jeera in oil. Then add onions and saute until light golden brown.
Step 3: Saute green chilies and ginger garlic paste until the raw smell of ginger dissipates. Then fry coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric, salt, methi powder (if using) for a minute.
Step 4: Then add marinated chicken and saute on medium - medium high flame. Saute until spices coat the chicken pieces and the pieces are roasted in oil.
Step 5: Cover and cook on medium - medium high flame for 3-5 minutes until oil begins to separate.
Step 6: Reduce the flame and gradually add yogurt and mix it quickly. Keep mixing until yogurt blends into the masala, about a minute or two.
Step 7: Increase the flame to medium - medium high, cover and cook until chicken releases more juices and the pieces are almost tender.
Step 8: Add water, coconut powder and bring to a boil. Then reduce the flame and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the gravy is of the right consistency.
Tomatoes - a variation to the recipe is addition of tomatoes. Before adding chicken to the masala, add tomatoes, cover and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy. Then add the chicken and follow rest of the recipe. Cut down on yogurt.
Roasted Onion Paste - as mentioned in the meal prep idea, saute onions with spices, with or without tomatoes. This gives the shorva and nice smooth texture. I always prefer roasted onions paste over a raw onion paste. Follow the kodi shorva recipe as given and add this paste after frying ginger garlic paste.
Store leftover kodi shorva in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat in the microwave or on stovetop. Make sure the chicken pieces are heated up.
Always use at least a few chicken pieces with bone. Use a combination of thighs with bone, drumsticks and breast pieces with or without bone. My preference using a whole chicken and this way, there is a balance of bone and boneless pieces.
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This post was originally published in Aug 2008. It is republished with new content and images.
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 Cutting Board and Knife
- 1 Saucepan (2-2½ quart) and spoon
- 650 grams cleaned Chicken about 1.4 pounds
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 5 tablespoons Oil
- 2 Cloves
- 3 Cardamoms
- ⅓ teaspoon Shah Jeera
- ¼ inch Cinnamon
- 1 cup finely chopped Onion
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic paste
- 2 small Green Chilies cut in half
- 1 teaspoons Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Methi/Fenugreek Powder opt
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1 Green Onion chopped opt
- ⅓ cup Yogurt
- ¼ cup chopped Cilantro
- Use chicken pieces with bone; a combination of thighs with bone, drumsticks and breast pieces with or without bone. My preference is to cut up whole chicken.
- Rub all the ingredients listed under marination to chicken. Marinate for 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. If you are pressed for time, you can skip the marination.
- Meal Prep Idea - You can freeze marinated chicken in Ziploc bags or reusable silicone bags for later use. Thaw chicken completely before using. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or keep it in warm water for couple of hours.
- If not freezing the marinated chicken, you can add yogurt to the marinade.
- Heat oil in a saucepan or a wide pan. Roast cardamom, clove, cinnamon and shah jeera in oil. Then add onions and saute until light golden brown.
- Throw in the green chilies, ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell of ginger dissipates.
- Add coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric, salt, methi powder (if using) and roast the spices for a few seconds.
- Add marinated chicken, green onions (if using), and saute on medium - medium high flame until spices coat the chicken pieces and chicken is lightly roasted.
- Cover and cook on medium - medium high flame for 3-5 minutes until oil begins to separate.
- Skip this step if chicken is marinated with yogurt. Whisk yogurt, reduce the flame to low and gradually add yogurt to chicken, mixing it quickly. This is a crucial step, don’t leave unattended until yogurt blends into the masala. Fry for a minute.
- Increase the flame to medium - medium high, cover and cook until chicken releases some juices and chicken pieces are semi cooked.
- Add 1 cup of water or as needed, coconut powder and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the flame and simmer for 5-10 minutes until desired consistency is reached.
- If using roasted coriander powder and garam masala powder, simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the flame.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
- Serve it with rice, roties, parathas, puri and dosa.