Long, long ago when I was in graduate school and living in my first apartment, I started to have dinner parties. My guests were fellow students all of whom shared a love of food that was only constrained by our limited budgets. Each of us had a specialty: mine, of course, was Italian food, inspired by my family’s menus. Others ventured into French or vegetarian or Indian.

Granted, the authenticity of some of our dishes might not have met the more stringent standards of today’s foodies, but nevertheless they were quite tasty. Among the most delicious of these was my friend Leslie’s chicken curry that was always served with rice and Major Grey’s chutney along with a bottle of the then ubiquitous and affordable Schwarze Katz wine, a semi-dry Riesling blend.

The dish I’m writing about today brought back these memories of meals shared with fellow scholars on a budget. Given the ingredients and method of cooking, however, I fear that my kitchen credibility may be called into question by some of my readers.  But this chicken curry has become one of my quick-meal, easy clean-up, comfort-food staples perfect for a mid-week late night dinner. My recipe is roughly based on Lorna Sass’s “Curry in a Hurry” in her book Pressure Perfect.

Pressure-Cooker Chicken Curry


3 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, well trimmed of excess skin and fat
Madras curry powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 12.5-ounce jar Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Indian Simmer Sauce

1. Sprinkle the underside of the trimmed chicken thighs with the curry powder and salt to taste.

Seasoned chicken
Seasoned chicken

2. Place the chopped onion in a pressure cooker followed by the chicken thighs. I make two layers of chicken, starting with skin-side down for the bottom layer and then going to skin-side up for the top layer. 

3. Pour in a jar of the simmer sauce making sure to evenly distribute it over the chicken.

4. Lock the lid and and bring the cooker to high pressure, following the instructions of your cooker’s manufacturer. More often than not I use my electric pressure cooker, which facilitates bringing the pot to pressure. For stove-top cookers, Sass’s recipe recommends bringing the cooker to high pressure over high heat and then reducing the heat just enough to maintain high pressure.

5. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally for 4 minutes followed by quick release if necessary. Be careful of the steam, when removing the lid of your pressure cooker. If the chicken is not tender, simmer covered until done. If there is too much fat, you may wish to skim it from the top before serving.

Serve with steamed rice and chutney on the side.

Wine Pairing: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

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