Chicken Curry Karai with Kienyeji Chicken

Chicken Curry Karai With Kienyeji Kuku

Chicken curry karai is a dish that is made in a karai (basin / cooking pan). It should (ideally) all be cooked in the same karai, but, I do not have one that is large enough for me to accomplish this. Hence, I prepare all my different components for the chicken curry karai in the karai and finally assemble them in a deep suufuria. I never let anything bog me down in my own kitchen, I will tweak it until it works, After all I am the queen of my kitchen 😀 .

Why kienyeji kuku (literal translation is traditional / indigenous chicken) you might ask? Given the fact that it takes forever to soften as compared to the broiler chicken. The answer is simple, no brainer I might even say, the flavour!! You cannot compare the rich intense and unique flavour that is found in kienyeji chicken to any other.

You can serve this curry karai with a starch of your choice like chapati, matoke, rice or spaghetti.

So where does the richer flavour come from? Easy, the fact that they are left to roam freely in open fresh air while they forage for bugs, wild herbs, grass, etc. They also get a lot of exercise which results in better muscle development. Kienyeji chicken also have harder bones than the commercially raised ones and these yield better stock.

The important thing to remember is this, not all ingredients that I’ve listed in this recipe are compulsory. You can omit or even add more to suit your individual taste. I have an affinity for whole spices because of their potent and fresh flavours. You can use powdered spices if you do not have whole ones at hand.

My advice to you, who is reading my article on the chicken curry karai, is to take a walk to the predominantly Indian stores that sell spices and herbs. Most of the curries that we cook are adapted from them and so it automatically follows that you will be sorted there. Take a walk to city market, Ngara market, Nakumatt supermarket in Parklands, etc.

This particular dish does tend to get a bit tart because of the tomato puree and paste. So, to rectify this I add honey because of its sweetness that cuts through all the tartness. If you are allergic to honey you can use granulated white sugar or even brown sugar.

Another thing that I should mention is that I love using mala in this recipe. I love its flavour and also the fact that it’s cheaper than yogurt and yields the same results. If you are lactose intolerant you can use coconut cream.

I love this particular curry because it takes time to build the flavours of the different components before bringing all of them together in one sufuria resulting in an orchestra of intense flavours. Below is my list of ingredients and the step by step tutorial of how I achieved this finger licking dish!


Dry Spice mix

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp fernugreek seeds
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 6 brown cardamom pods
  • 1 Tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 of a whole nutmeg
  •  1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2″ cinnamon bark

Rest of Ingredients:

  • 1.8 Kg kienyeji Chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic and 2″ ginger made into a paste
  • 2 large onions sliced and divided into two portions (1/4 and 3/4 portions)
  • 150 ml tomato puree
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • Pinch of fernugreek leaves (optional)
  • Bunch of dhania (coriander) leaves
  • 3 Large potatoes diced into 1″ cubes
  • 2 green chilies
  • 500ml Mala (Fermented milk)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil to deep fry
  • 1/2 hoho (green bell pepper)
  • 2 Tbs honey


  1. Start by dividing your chicken into different parts (wings, thighs, back, neck, etc) and then make small incisions into them that will allow better penetration of the spice mix during marination.
  2. Throw all the ingredients of the spice mix into the spice / coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Divide the spice powder in half (or as much as will be needed to completely coat the chicken pieces). Keep the remainder aside for later when you make the gravy for the curry.
  4. After all the chicken pieces are coated, wrap the container with cling wrap and keep in the refrigerator over night or minimum 4 hours.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a karai (pan) and then deep fry 3/4 of the onions till golden brown and drain excess oil on kitchen paper.
  6. In the same oil, fry the potatoes until they also turn a gorgeous golden brown colour and drain excess oil on kitchen paper.
  7. Finally, fry all the chicken, apart from gizzard and liver, in the oil until just brown and drain excess oil on kitchen paper.
  8. Boil the chicken for 45 minutes or more for the kienyeji chicken to soften, or in a pressure cooker for 15 – 20 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, take 2 tablespoons of the oil that you used to fry all the previous foods and heat on medium heat in a deep sufuria.
  10. Once the oil comes to temperature add the onions and cook until they just start turning golden brown then add the ginger garlic paste. let it cook for a minute.
  11. Add the tomato puree, maziwa mala, the remaining spice mix powder, green chilies split length wise and salt to taste. Stir and make sure everything is well mixed together. Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  12. Add all the tomatoe paste, break it down and ensure that it all gets incorporated in the curry. If it’s too thick at this point add just enough water to loosen it up to prevent burning, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Add the cooked kienyeji chicken pieces to the curry along with the gizzard and liver. Mix and make sure all the pieces are covered, add a bit of the  chicken stock to loosen the curry up if too thick.
  14. Cover and leave to simmer for about 8 minutes before adding the potatoes, fried onions, honey and hoho. Cover and leave to simmer for about a minute.
  15. Finally, add the fernugreek and dhania leaves. Mix and leave to simmer for about a minute uncovered and then serve while still hot with a starch and vegetables of your choice.



  1. Safi sana..lovely chakula…i now live in Canada,and was so surprised and happy to find your website…takes me back home.

    Going to try your liver recipe,also your (sikh) kebabs!

  2. Hi! Thumbs up to what you are doing!! This is beyond awesome especially for a bachelor like me.Mimi hupika!!. Unaniokolea tu sana. So my question is: what basic(necessary) spices should i be having on my kitchen shelf, for most of your recipes atleast?? Kuna zile unatumia sana . I just want to do a one time shopping . Kindly advice ASAP!! i will be your number one fan/follower….. God bless you. Keep up the good work

    • Thank you very much! Ati kalongo…been a long time since I heard that term, lol. The spices that are in almost all my cooking are curry powder,turmeric powder and black pepper (the one that’s sold in a grinder so that I can grind it fresh). I also have the following spices which I grind fresh as the need arises: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and cumin seeds. In my pantry there’s always ginger and garlic because they don’t spoil quickly. In most of my soups and stews I throw in a bayleaf or two. Hope this helps you out. God bless you kabisa pia.


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