The Not-So Starving Student—Easy Nepalese Curry

Having lived with a Nepalese roommate who was an exceptional cook, I learned a few recipes that are unparalleled by any dish you’ve had in a restaurant. I didn’t realize how simple it was to create the perfect curry without using any packaged curry sauces. While I’m not an expert in South Asian Cooking, the recipes she showed me demonstrated the simplicity of the recipes; just about any student chef could pick them up. Despite having written down the steps involved, I was taken aback at how casually she went about her cooking. There were no tablespoons or teaspoons for that matter. In fact, in many cultures, cooking is about experimentation rather than precision. For AU students craving something different for your meal preparations or wowing some house guests, this Nepalese curry recipe will mean you won’t have to rely on pre-made curry sauce mixtures.

While variations of curry exist in many Eastern cultures, my favorite thing about Nepalese curry is the fragrant spices and the total penetration of the seasoning into the protein. It also doesn’t require any special cooking tools or appliances other than your trusty frying pan.

Total preparation and cooking time: 2 hours

Total prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: ~1 hour and 30 minutes

Curry Ingredients:

  • 1 can Tomato sauce
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 vegetables of your choice: some of my favorites include mushrooms and green peppers
  • 8 chicken thighs deboned or bone on
  • 3 chopped garlic
  • 1 inch of ginger chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp masala powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken stock or 1 cup water
  • Optional: Cilantro for garnish
  • 1 tsp of 2% milk or heavy cream

Traditional Basmati Rice preparation instructions:

  1. In a pot, rinse 1 cup of basmati rice until the water becomes clear
  2. Add enough water to cover the top of the rice by 2 inches
  3. Cook the rice over the stove on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes
  4. Check to see if the water is fully absorbed and the rice is fluffy and light
  5. Add additional water if the rice is too firm and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes
  6. Serve


  1. Mix the salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, cumin, fennel seeds, and masala in a bowl and coat the chicken evenly
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat
  3. Dry roast the garlic, ginger, chopped onions and chilis to release aroma for about 20 seconds, ensuring the spices are not burnt
  4. Add the chicken and allow to simmer for 1 minute
  5. Once the surface of the chicken has changed color slightly add a cup of tomato sauce
  6. Cover the saucepan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes on low heat
  7. After 30 minutes add a bay leaf and vegetables of choice (green onions and pepper)
  8. Add 1 tsp of milk or heavy cream to the mixture
  9. Cover with the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes
  10. If too much water remains in the saucepan, allow it to evaporate over low heat for another 15 minutes
  11. Serve over rice
  12. Add garnish of chopped cilantro (if desired)