Yoghurt when used in Curries Question

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sarah jacintha

Yoghurt when used in Curries Question

Not a topic for curry purists!

I'm following this unconventional recipe for Chicken Biryani. I know you're supposed to cook it for 8 days in the oven or something - but this recipe enables you to cook it on the hob in about 25 minutes. It does work in terms of consistency etc (I've cooked it before). And it is so convenient.

I'm not gonna post the recipe verbatim, so I hope the mods won't mind:

300g Basmati rice
25 g Butter
1 large Onion
3 Cardomon pods
1 Bay Leaf
Small Cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
4 tablespoons curry paste
85 g raisins
650 ml chicken stock.
Flaked almonds/coriander to serve

Method: Soak rice, wash it. Heat butter in pan, cook (sliced) onion with the bay leaf and other whole spices for 10 mins. Sprinkle in turmeric then add curry paste and cook til aromatic.

Stir-in the rice and raisins then pour the chicken stock over it. Put lid on pan and bring to a hard boil. Lower heat to a minimum and cook for another 5 mins (for the rice). Turn off the heat and leave for 10 mins. Sprinkle in coriander. Scatter almonds over dish to serve.

First thing to tell you is that the amount of chicken stock the recipe states is 850 ml: it's too much. I used 650 ml, which worked well.

My question is this: I'm not a fan of spices in general. I bought the mildest curry paste I could find - and it's still too strong. I can't find any 'milder than mild' curry paste. I know that sometimes people add yoghurt to curries. Could I do that with this recipe - and this method?

Is the paste used as a thickening / binding agent here? And can it be substituted in favour of yoghurt for the same purpose?

Do you just use natural flavoured yoghurt?

In general, how is yoghurt used in Indian cooking?

Sorry for length of post but wanted to explain myself thoroughly - I'm on a limited budget and don't want to throw away 4 chicken breasts, cos I ruined them by amending this recipe.

Would really appreciate advice as to whether yoghurt can be substituted for curry paste.

Thanks! Sarah


Chicken curry

When you say the curry paste is to strong, are you tasting it neat, because 4 tablespoons are not very much?

Certainly you can make the curry with only 2 tablespoons of curry paste.

Yoghurt will have a cooling effect. Plain yoghurt. I usually use Greek yoghurt as it is less likely to 'split'.

Whatever you make there will certainly be no need to throw it away. I abhor food waste.

sarah jacintha


"When you say the curry paste is to strong, are you tasting it neat, because 4 tablespoons are not very much?"

No - cooked. The curry tastes too spicy. I had already halved the curry paste amount (used 2 tablespoons). In the recipe bit, I listed the recipe as given (four). I admit to being a 'blandest thing on the menu' type. However, I've had tikka masalas / kormas in restaurants that are hotter than this dish when cooked. And I'm never heavy handed with the paste. Can't really understand it.

"Yoghurt will have a cooling effect. Plain yoghurt. I usually use Greek yoghurt as it is less likely to 'split'."

Thanks, I knew the yoghurt would have a cooling effect, but I don't know WHEN to add the yoghurt - within the context of the method I have listed.

Given that the dish is cooked on the hob (in a wok) when should I add the yoghurt?

(Set yoghurt? Greek-style yoghurt...etc).

Once again, thanks for your response.

sarah jacintha


Should read: "I've had kormas / tikka masala's in restaurants that are MILDER than this..."

Sorry for confusion.


mild curry

Don't use and "curry powder" or "paste". Just use mild spices: cinnamon, cloves if liked, cummin and corriander. I don't have a recipe to hand but I have made curries with a spicy taste but no heat at all. Use garlic but very little ginger and no chilli.

sarah jacintha


I see what you mean, but at the same time the rice needs to be absorbed into the dish with the chicken etc.

It's kind of an all-in-one method (once the rice has been soaked in very warm water for 10 mins then rinsed).

This is why it needs a 'binding' or thickening agent: Hence the paste.

I did a bit of research after posting, and somebody recommended adding cornflour to the yoghurt before adding to the pot. You can add some to the chicken stock too. The cornflour is meant to stabilise the yoghurt - so that it doesn't split/spoil. Here's hoping!

Thanks again to all,




I never use yogurt or flour in curry.



Nor me.

And I soak the rice in cold water. Just to get rid of excess starch, so the grains remain separate.

Sue G

Yoghurt in curries

In answer to your question,
"when should i add the yoghurt"

Reheat your curry and just at the end add the yoghurt, give it a good stir, serve straight away.

As everyones tastes are different, why not put some yoghurt in a dish & let each person add their own amount.


Welshcookie, curry

I too soak the rice, brown and white; they both cook so much more quickly.



I replied in haste as I was going out.

I never use flour in curries, but I do use yoghurt.

Some curries require it near the beginning, perhaps after marinading the meat; some at the end, some in the middle.

Let the recipe guide you, or serve it in a raita or separately.

Lizzie Lancashire

Again, not one for curry purists....

I use this recipe for chicken biryani - not authentic, but good, and very quick!

Ingredients (serves 2)
Whatever you consider to be enough (preferably Basmati) rice for 2 people! (4 small handfuls in my case).
Half an onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
Some root ginger (to taste!), chopped

About &"189;“ cinnamon stick ground (I guess about &"189; teaspoon of ready-ground)
2 cloves, ground
2 cardamoms, ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
&"189; tsp cumin seeds, ground
&"189; tsp black peppercorns, ground
&"188; tsp hot chilli powder (or to taste)
188; tsp nutmeg

2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized bits
6 tablespoons or so natural yoghurt
Some sultanas (to taste!)
Some flaked almonds (to taste), toasted


1. Boil the rice for 6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, fry the onion in a large saucepan until golden. Add the garlic, ginger and all the spices, stir, add the chicken and fry until sealed.
3. Add the yoghurt a spoonful at a time, stirring after each addition.
4. Add the sultanas, stir.
5. Add the cooked rice in a pile on the top. If you want to be really fancy, you could add some crushed and soaked saffron strands.
6. Cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel, then put the lid on. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes or so.
7. Turn off the heat, uncover, and poke 3 holes in the rice with your spoon handle. Really not sure why you do this, but I do it anyway. Maybe to let the steam out? Re-cover, and leave to stand for 5 minutes
8. Add the almonds, give it all a good stir, dish it up, and scoff.

sarah jacintha

Thanks everyone,

And thanks to Lancashire Lizzie for the recipe. (I'm a Lancashire lass too - but they'd have me as a 'Greater Manchester lass' now, I suppose...)

The yoghurt didn't split or curdle, I added the cornflour to the chicken stock and only added the yoghurt in the last five minutes of cooking; when the heat had been turned right down - no problems.


hot curry??

a friend and I were to share a Thai curry, which she had ordered.

on tasting...we both started to speak at the same time........I said for her go ahead..she said "Oh my goodness I cant eat this it is far too hot!"

I had been about to say " They have forgotten to put the curry in this!"
I could detect no heat at all.

we are all different,

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