How to marinate Chicken for Indian Curries

In India, we seem to have forgotten the art of food marination. I don’t see many people marinating chicken while making traditional Indian style curries.

Well, it could be because of our fast and busy routines. The increasing demand for ready to cook products also shows how we’ve started moving towards a completely new food culture.

Coming back to the topic, I think marination is an important part of non-veg. food preparations. It helps in preserving and infusing more natural flavors inside the flesh. Some of these techniques also help in saving few minutes of cooking time.

So, let’s learn more about marination and its different methods –

How To Marinate Chicken –

When I prepare chicken curries or Biryanis at home, I make sure to let it marinate in spices & other ingredients for good amount of time. And this always results in delicious dishes!

So, how long should you keep it aside for marination?

The longer, the better!

Why? Because it really helps in getting those flavorful juices deep inside the flesh and bones.

Generally, you should marinate the chicken pieces for at least 3-4 hours. You may also keep them overnight in the refrigerator to get the best possible results next day.

This overnight marination technique is often performed in many Mughlai restaurants for their delicious curries.

In case you don’t have much time for preparation, you can simply marinate it for 30-45 minutes. It will still bring some flavors to the raw chicken.

Types of Marination –

Well, there are a couple of different techniques that can be used while marinating chicken for specific dishes. And these variations do play a major role in getting the quintessential taste to certain traditional recipes.

For eg., white colored chicken curries require different spices for their preparations. So, it’s wise not to use red chilli powder while marinating chicken for such curries or rice dishes.

Alright now, let’s see what are these secret marination techniques –

1. Oil, Salt, Red Chilli Powder & Turmeric Powder

This is one of the most common marination techniques in India.

Just get those ingredients and rub them nicely on fresh chicken pieces. Isn’t it so simple? It doesn’t even take 5 minutes of your total preparation time.

If you think marination is difficult, you should try out the aforementioned spices. It’ll make a great difference to your home cooked chicken delicacies.

For a healthier version, you can use olive oil instead of refined oil or any other oil.

2. Salt, Curd, Ginger-Garlic Paste, Red Chilli Powder, Turmeric Powder and Lemon Juice

I like this marination technique!

It does the job of making chicken succulent and infusing spice flavors in the flesh and bones. So, don’t forget to include these ingredients in your chicken marination.

If you’re making this marination for Kebabs or Tandoori style chicken, you can also add garam masala powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, dry mango powder, etc.

However, if you’re going to make Chinese or Continental dishes, you will have to season the chicken as per their methods and recipes.

3. For Biryani and Other Spicy Rice Delicacies

Although you can use above marination styles for Biryani preparations, you’ll need to put some more efforts to get the desired texture and taste.

And these things can only be achieved with some additional flavoring ingredients, which includes traditional spices and masala powders.

For Chicken Biryani, here’s what you need to do –

  • Get a mixing bowl and add the chicken pieces into it.
  • Now, add the salt, curd, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, Biryani masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, dry mango powder/mint leaves, lemon juice, fried onions and ginger-garlic paste.
  • Mix this whole mixture together and coat the masala to all pieces.
  • Finally, cover the bowl with cling film and let it rest for few hours in refrigerator.

Note – If you like spicy Biryani, you may add some whole spices to this marination.

Some chefs also use dry fruit pastes and/or fresh creams in such chicken marinations, which gives more richness to their preparations.

Final Tips –

Do read these important tips before you start with the marination process.


For those who want extra softness to the chicken pieces, please do pound it nicely with the help of tenderizer.

This is one of the best secret tricks to cook perfect chicken at home. You can also apply this technique for other meat preparations.

Cooking Time

When you marinate the chicken, it reduces cooking time significantly. So, if you prefer juicy chicken, adjust your cooking time accordingly and check its texture with knife or spoon. Don’t overcook it on the flame.

Alright, I hope you’ve learned the basics of chicken marination. Use these marination styles in your preparations and do let me know how everything turns out in the comments section below.

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