Skip to main content

India, country of yogurt and onions

Back a few years ago when I was on a trip to India, I noticed that many dishes were cooked in yogurt sauce and that sautéing of onions was one of the favorite ingredients in most recipes.When I say "onions", I mean "LOTS of onions"... It seems that most of these Indian people are fond of that, doesn't it? 
Anyway... let's get back to what I said earlier...
Once onions were sautéed, yogurt and species were gradually added and then the meat - chicken or lamb is cooked in this sweet-scented mixture. 
The meat will be as caramel-colored, not really browned… and the taste? Complex as those braised European dishes.
While the mixture cooks, you can start preparing everything else since it will take about 40 minutes to 1 hour for the chicken and lamb respectively.
Most of the spices use here will sweeten the taste of the mixture: cinnamon, cloves and ginger. In a dry skillet, you can mix whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, seeds, coriander and cardamom until it you can smell their perfume and then just crush them.
Another option is to combine whole and ground spices, add also whole cardamoms pods, cloves and cinnamon. It all depends on you. 
I also noticed that cooking with yogurt tends to break over heat. However, this is not really a big problem. Here is what I recommend you to do...
Beat cornstarch with the yogurt before adding it to the pot and keep the heat low while the cooking last. This will not only keep the yogurt intact but will also thicken the sauce and make it more glorious.
Without doubt, you will want to eat it with plenty of rice. So do not forget to prepare that too.

Recipe for lamb or chicken in onion-yogurt sauce

Dig into Indian cooking with this flavorful and easy recipe.


1½ pounds lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1- to 1½-inch (2.5 to 4 cm) chunks, or 4 whole chicken legs
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs (25 g) minced ginger, or 1 tsp (5-8 g) dried ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
10 cardamom pods
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups yogurt
2 large onions or 4 medium onions, sliced
2 Tbs (50 g) butter
2 Tbs (50 g) tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp (8-10 g) ground coriander
3 cloves
chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Servings: 4


In a large skillet or casserole, put butter and turn heat to medium-high. Add garlic, onions and a large pinch of salt.
Stir occasionally while cooking, until you see the onions become very soft and brown. This will take at least 15 minutes. Add and stir in spices and cook another minute or so. Add chicken or lamb and stir.
Whisk cornstarch with yogurt, in a bowl, until smooth. Stir it into the mixture. If you are using chicken, add about 1/3 cup of water in it. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then cover and turn heat to low. 

Cook at least 40 minutes (by which time chicken will likely be tender) or longer, stirring occasionally, or until lamb is quite tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish with cilantro, and serve with basmati rice.


Jonathan is a food fanatic! You can check his website at: Copycat Recipes where he reveals over 600 Secret Restaurant Recipes in a 2 volume cookbook titled: America's Favorite Restaurant Recipes.