Kitchen InFerno: Punjabi-style Chicken Curry with Sunaina Mehra

Healthy eating and college don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but knowing the right tricks can help turn eating right into a daily routine. Let Kiersten Ferno be your guide for navigating the health-food scene without taking a chunk out of your schedule. Welcome to the inFerno.


This week we thought Kitchen InFerno needed a little oomph! SO, I decided to spend some time in the kitchen with Sunaina Mehra, a senior international politics major.

Mehra, president of the South Asian Student Association, is an avid cook – preparing family-style dinners for her and her friends regularly. She loves spreading the love through food, so we thought we’d ask her a few questions to share:


Kitchen InFerno: “What has really influenced your cooking?”

Sunaina Mehra: “I started cooking when I was six… My mom mainly taught me how to cook, but my dad taught me how to make different Chinese stir-fries – he loves to cook a lot, too! It became a family tradition for me, my brother, mom, and dad to all cook together on the weekends. It was a great family bonding event!”

KI: “Why do you enjoy cooking so much?”

SM: “I love all different types of food! Cooking is such a big passion of mine because I love to see the look on people’s faces when they try my food and really enjoy it.”

KI: “What’s your absolute favorite style or meal to make?”

SM: “Mexican! Chicken enchiladas and fresh guac and salsa – so good!”

Mehra decided to prepare an Indian-style meal for Kitchen InFerno as her family is from northern India. She says that every part of India has a different “flavor” if you will, and she mainly cooks Punjabi-style. Punjabi involves a lot of meat and is often heavier than other types of Indian food.

“That’s why it’s so good! It’s definitely not as good for you as other styles,” Mehra says with a laugh.

So, ladies and gents, hit up the International Market (328 S. Allen St.) or Krishan Indian Grocery Store (230A W. College Ave.) and dive into this recipe. The slow-cooked chicken in these amazing aromatic spices are sure to kick your dinner up a notch!

What you’ll need:

1 package chicken breast
½ white onion
1 teaspoon ginger
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1 teaspoon meat masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons red chili powder
½ small can of tomato paste
1 ½ Tablespoons sour cream
¼ bag Ready Rice
Plain Greek yogurt

What to do:

1. Using a small pot, brown onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil on medium heat.


2. Chop up chicken and add to pot, stirring to coat meat with the mixture. Cook until browned.

3. Add cumin, coriander, chaat masala (found at the Indian store) and two mini spoons of salt. Add 2 mini spoons of meat masala (found at the Indian store). Add 2 teaspoons of red chili powder for a spicier flare.

4. Stir in water and tomato paste, and keep cooking. Every 5 minutes or so, stir in ¼ cup water to allow the curry to thicken.

5. After 30 minutes, add sour cream and stir.

Tip from inside Mehra’s kitchen: Serve your curry over rice with a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side. The coolness from the yogurt and texture from the rice perfectly compliment the spices and tenderness of the chicken! Also, Indian flatbread, naan, is easy to find (frozen or fresh) and is an easy dipping option for the curry.


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