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Recipe for Authentic Indian Potluck Curry Dish

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

25 min

30 min

Can vary, but generally serves six people

First, let me present a background story.

Almost every country has a dish they make with bread and water. Tortillas and roti come topmost in my mind. When we were young, my mother would spread some butter on some roti, sprinkle some sugar on it, and roll it up. It was like cinnamon toast, without the cinnamon. We would then be able to eat it without any assistance from her as she took care of the customers in the store. It was cheap, quick, portable, and it filled us up.

One day when we were older, there weren't very many groceries in the house. My mother made a curry out of roti. Yes, she made a curry out of Indian bread.

I can no longer eat gluten, so I no longer eat roti, at least the way it is made traditionally, but I still retain the knowledge that you can curryfy anything.

Authentic Indian Potluck Curry Recipe

Cardisa has asked for an authentic curry. Some people may say that this Potluck Curry doesn't really qualify, since this is my American adaptation of an Indian curry, and doesn't have the painstaking love and care my mother puts into each of her recipes. I contend that it is more authentic than most of the written recipes you see. Most Indians will use ingredients that are in season and available in the area where they live, and likely will not use precise measurements. Plus I have confirmed with my sister that she uses this recipe, and since it is used by Indians, it is authentic.

Since it uses only one pot, and includes shortcuts that save time, it fits the lifestyle of modern Indians and Americans.

This potluck curry is made with chicken and diced tomatoes.  A mango drink made of mango pulp and milk complements the meal.

This potluck curry is made with chicken and diced tomatoes. A mango drink made of mango pulp and milk complements the meal.

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Potluck Curry Basics

The concept behind potluck curry is that you should be able to make the curry out of things you have in the house. You should have the staples, of course, like Indian spices, but the main ingredients are things you can gather from your home. It is the luck of the pot what ingredients you have available in your house.

The must-have ingredients are onions, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Everything else is potluck, but generally includes a meat, a vegetable, and tomatoes. I do have to tell you in the interest of disclosure that I have been able to make the potluck curry even without one of these "must-have" ingredients, but I need them to provide structure to the recipe.

The order you put in the ingredients depends on the ingredients. The biggest thing you have to keep in mind when making Authentic Indian Potluck Curry is the cooking time. The key is to put in your ingredients at the right time so that they will all be completely cooked when you are done. Potatoes that need to be cooked, for example, need to be put into the pot fairly early in the process with the meat. It really isn't difficult to do that though, because most of the meats and vegetables are not in danger of being overcooked as long as there is enough moisture in the pot to avoid scorching.

Just be sure to add water or tomato products to make sure there is enough moisture in the pot and you should be just fine. Keep stirring from time to time for the same reason.

One of the good things about making the Authentic Indian Potluck Curry is that you are kept busy as you keep adding ingredients, so it doesn't become boring to watch the food cook. This saves you on prep time. There is also only one pot to wash unless you make a side dish.

Okay, are you ready to start? Make sure the meat is defrosted and cut into bite size pieces and set aside.

In this photo, I started with oil and sliced onions, but did not wait until the onions were sauteed before adding the chicken.

In this photo, I started with oil and sliced onions, but did not wait until the onions were sauteed before adding the chicken.

Instead of using oil, I sauteed the onions while browning the ground beef.  I drained it, then put it back in the pot for the next ingredients.

Instead of using oil, I sauteed the onions while browning the ground beef. I drained it, then put it back in the pot for the next ingredients.

Ingredients for this Very Flexible Recipe

  • 1-2 fresh, or one frozen bag onions, chopped, sliced or diced
  • 1 pound meat, such as beef, chicken, pork, or fish, raw or cooked
  • 1 can tomatoes, tomato paste, or tomato sauce
  • 1-3 fresh, cans or bags fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Potluck Curry Recipe

Start with a saucepan. The size of the pan will depend on the amount and size of ingredients you will be adding, but a medium size saucepan should probably be fine.


Dice one or two onions. You can slice them if you don't want to go through the effort of dicing them. You can even use the frozen onions. My store sells frozen onions with other things, like peppers or celery. That's completely okay. I use the whole package, so I don't have to worry about the bag opening and making a mess in the freezer.

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Sauté the onions in some oil, ghee, butter, grease, margarine, Pam, or any other kind of shortening. If you are browning ground beef, you can even skip the oil and put the onions in with your ground beef.

You can wait until the onions are translucent or golden before adding the next ingredient, but you really don't have to wait that long if you are in a hurry.


Each person has his or her own preferences for what foods go together. Some combinations we typically use are:

ground beef / spinach / corn and a pinch of cinnamon

ground beef / kidney beans

beef / potatoes / peas, carrots and green beans

chicken / cauliflower / broccoli

Beef stew meat, cauliflower / broccoli

chicken thighs with 16 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Only One Main Ingredient

Note that you do not have to use a variety of meats and vegetables. It is completely fine to use just one main ingredient. Beans, eggplant, meat, and potatoes are all good one main ingredient meals.


Add about one pound of a meat of your choice, if you want. You can use meat that has already been cooked, as well. Just about any meat will work: ground beef, beef cut up for beef stew, chicken, turkey, fresh or frozen fish, shrimp, or pork. I like to cut up the meat into little pieces so that you can get lots of pieces on each plate, and because it cooks faster that way.

Let it start cooking. If the meat has not been cooked, you will want to give it a little bit of time to cook before you start adding the vegetables. You can add water or the tomatoes first to keep the meat moist to avoid overcooking.


Add some vegetables of your choice. They can be fresh or frozen or canned. The tricky part is to add them into the curry at the right time so that they will finish cooking when the meat is done. Good choices are beans, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, peas, potatoes, and spinach. You can even add fruit, like pineapple, papaya or mango.

Depending on your preference, you can add one can or bag of frozen vegetables, but I generally add two or three since I prefer to have more vegetables than meat.

I have added a bag frozen broccoli and a sliced tomato to the chicken and sliced onions.  I added more broccoli after the photo was taken, because I prefer a higher vegetable to meat ratio.

I have added a bag frozen broccoli and a sliced tomato to the chicken and sliced onions. I added more broccoli after the photo was taken, because I prefer a higher vegetable to meat ratio.

I added a bag of frozen spinach to the ground beef, and let it cook while I rinsed the beans.  Then I added the beans, corn, and garlic and ginger paste.

I added a bag of frozen spinach to the ground beef, and let it cook while I rinsed the beans. Then I added the beans, corn, and garlic and ginger paste.

A Note about Hot Pepper

Did you notice that the pepper is optional? There are many different regions in India, and each region has a different idea about how much hot pepper should go in a dish. It is completely acceptable to make a curry without any pepper at all, especially if you are cooking for small children or people whose digestive systems can't handle hot pepper. It is also acceptable to put enough pepper in the dish to make your mouth burn.

I keep the pepper amount low in my curries, enough to taste the flavor but not enough to burn the mouth, and provide a spicy hot condiment for those who prefer more hotness.


A curry is not a curry until it has Indian spices in it. - I start with one teaspoon cumin, two teaspoons coriander, and 1 teaspoon turmeric and adjust to taste.

Additional spices add complexity and flavor. If I am feeling festive, I will also add one or more, but not all, of the following: 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala, a fresh hot pepper, a few cloves, a few peppercorns, a few cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick, some coconut milk, coriander leaves (cilantro), and a star anise. I don't find the need to add salt, but it is certainly an option.

Each person has a different preference for spices, and some foods can handle more spices more than others. You want to make sure that the spices are complementing the meat and vegetables, not completely masking it. Beef, for example, will require stronger spices than chicken, so add more as you feel necessary. I found that when I put in a little bit of each spice, it doesn't become too spicy. But if I make a small mistake, I can add a little bit more water or tomato sauce to calm it down a bit.

Here I have added the spices and mixed them in while giving the ingredients time to cook.

Here I have added the spices and mixed them in while giving the ingredients time to cook.

I added some tomato paste mixed with water.

I added some tomato paste mixed with water.


Then add some form of tomatoes (sauce, paste, puree, crushed, diced, fresh). I use one eight ounce can of tomato sauce. For chicken thighs, I like a big 16 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, because the hearty flavor is so delicious. You can even use spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, or ketchup if you are desperate. Basically you want to have enough moisture to cover the ingredients.

The amount of moisture in a curry varies depending on personal preference. Some people prefer a dry curry with just a big of moisture, so a bite of the meat or vegetable is included with each bite of rice. Others prefer more moisture, like a chunky soup, so it is possible to have just the rice with the flavor of the sauce. If you have a large group of people and are worried about having enough food to feed them all, you can add a can of water or tomato sauce to help extend the meal a bit.

Once you have added all your ingredients, make sure that the curry stays moist, and mix it from time to time until all your ingredients are cooked through, thoroughly warmed, and the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

Enjoy your potluck curry with rice or roti.

Enjoy your potluck curry with rice or roti.

Potluck Curry

Somehow, even with all the different ingredients, I wind up making six servings of Authentic Indian Potluck Curry. We eat what we can and freeze the rest for a very tasty frozen dinner.

When I first titled this recipe, I was thinking only about the ingredients you have in your house, but I can envision inviting people over for a potluck curry. Have each person bring one of the five main ingredients - onions and oil, tomatoes, meat, vegetable and spices. Cook them together and enjoy a great potluck curry!

© 2012 Shasta Matova

Comments: "Authentic Indian Potluck Curry Recipe"

Jessica Oyal from kisumu on May 10, 2020:

Wow you concept is so much helpful I have been trying to make a nice meal with a curry but it always backfires. Thanks a lot, I will definitely try your idea if cooking.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 16, 2013:

Thanks Mary. The beauty of this curry is that you can add whatever you like and it will taste great.

Thanks Suzie, inventing recipes is a great idea since it saves money and reduces waste. Why not use what you have in your kitchen.

Thanks CZCZCZ, I like making my own food because I can decide what ingredients to use and can customize the flavors to my own tastes. Naan is so expensive when you buy it at the store, but it is fairly cheap to make at home.

Thanks Annie, I hope you enjoy making your own potluck curry.

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on March 04, 2013:

I've been making curry for forty plus years and love the taste. Your recipe is different but looks delicious. Will be sure to try it. Thanks for sharing it!

CZCZCZ from Oregon on March 04, 2013:

Looks awesome! I enjoy eating Indian food, but have never really dabbled much with it in our own kitchen and need to. This hub has me wanting to get the ingredients and give hit a try.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on March 03, 2013:

Hi Shasta,

This was really interesting and love the idea of a potluck curry! Loved how it uses what you have, I am a big fan of doing that and forever "inventing" dishes with fridge and store cupboard. Great suggestions, voted +++++, shared and pinned for later, definitely want to give this a whirl!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 03, 2013:

I like the taste of everything you have put into this potluck, so I know I'll like the completed dish. I intend to try this, for sure.

Voted UP, and will share.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2012:

That's great au fait. I make this dish all the time! I hope you enjoy it as well.

C E Clark from North Texas on September 19, 2012:

This sounds like a great way to put a meal on the table fairly quickly. I like quick and easy and this fills the bill. Looking forward to trying it! Voted up and useful. Will share with my followers.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 27, 2012:

Thanks dipsmi. I hope you like it.

dipsmi from Plymouth, Minnisota on March 26, 2012:

very different with the chicken curry I cook but it looks very yummy!!! definitely am going to try it!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 24, 2012:

Potluck Curry is a name I made up to describe my go-to Indian curry. I don't generally add coconut milk or creamed coconut, mostly because it is high in saturated fat. Some people say it is a healthy fat, and others say it isn't, but I'm sure it is fine in moderation. Definitely you can add coconut milk in potluck curry. My mother used to make a wonderful chicken curry with boiled eggs that had coconut milk in it. In fact, I'm going to add it to the list of optional ingredients. Thanks for the suggestion!

Keri Summers from West of England on February 24, 2012:

I have been making potluck curries for a while, and didn't even realise it! I use many of the ingredients you mention, but you've given inspiration for more. Do you ever add coconut milk or creamed coconut? Or would that not be consider authentic? (I do this quite a lot - I got the coconut idea from a Jamie Oliver curry recipe). Delicious photos.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 24, 2012:

Thanks PDXKaraokeGuy. My sister has made this potluck curry recipe with shrimp. I am sure yours will be great.

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on February 24, 2012:

that looks really good, though I'd probably cook it with shrimp and scallops, so my wife could enjoy it as well

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 19, 2012:

Let me know how it turns out loveofnight and what was in the potluck!

Loveofnight Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on February 18, 2012:

Guess what I am fixing for dinner tomorrow?

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 18, 2012:

Thank you RedElf. I used to hate vegetables as a kidf, but somehow when they were in a curry, they didn't taste so vegetably. Now of course I love them.

RedElf from Canada on February 17, 2012:

Your curry looks delicious! I love all those vegetables in the finished dish. Can hardly wait to try this.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 17, 2012:

Thank you KimberlyLake!

Kimberly Lake from California on February 17, 2012:

Bookmarked and voted up!

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on February 17, 2012:

Like the idea. I always cook Indian food but never have tried this type pf potluck curry recipe. Will try it now. Thanks for sharing it. Voted up!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 17, 2012:

Thank you homesteadbound, cebutouristspot, DonnaCosmato and alocsin. As you can tell from the numerous photos, this is my go-to meal. I enjoyed sharing it with all of you. I do hope you get a chance to try it out and let me know how it worked out for you.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 17, 2012:

Interesting concept -- I knew that a curry could be a potluck of spices, but never thought that you could do that with what it covered as well. Voting this Up and Useful.

Donna Cosmato from USA on February 17, 2012:

This not only looks delicious but sounds healthy and nutritious the way you have so meticulously described it. I always love reading your hubs because you provide so much additional information about each topic.

cebutouristspot from Cebu on February 17, 2012:

I just cook curry fish tonight and it didn't turn out good. I wish I have read this hub. :( Anyway thanks for sharing

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on February 17, 2012:

These pictures do indeed look yummy, and I like cooking with curry as well. I will have to give this one a try!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 17, 2012:

Thank you ishwaryaa22. A potluck is usually with finished dishes. Each person brings a plate of some food and shares it with all the others. This way each person gets variety and only has to bring one dish. It was generally intended to make sure there was enough food for everyone. Sometimes people give rules, so they assign some people to bring the main meal, others to bring a side dish, others to bring a beverage, etc.

If you do try the recipe, let me know what ingredients you used and how it worked out for you.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on February 17, 2012:

I enjoyed reading this recipe of yours. I have not heard of potluck before till now through you. I like Indian curries a lot. I would like to give this recipe a try soon. The pictures are yummy. Thank you for sharing. Rated it useful. Vote up.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 17, 2012:

Thank you jeyaramd and Poohgranma, I enjoyed making the curry different ways for the photos. It took a while before I realized I had to turn off the stove and let the steam die down before taking the photo, so I had to make another and another. It was enjoyable to test the recipe in the interest of providing an accurate recipe.

Poohgranma from On the edge on February 17, 2012:

I can't wait to try this recipe. I love the flavor of curry and though my husband doesn't think he's a fan, I believe I'll be able to get this one past his doubts. I love that it is so versatile so one does not have to spend time and money gathering a lot of expensive ingredients. It also looks like a grand recipe to use when unexpected guests come by and end up staying into the dinner hour.

Wonderful hub and the photos literally make my mouth water!

jeyaramd from Mississauga, Ontario on February 17, 2012:

This recipe looks too good. I enjoy potluck at work. I am sure that this would make a welcome entry in any potluck. Your photos are very good. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Its so true that a curry does really feel like CURRY unless you have the spices to go with it. Especially indian spices. Thanks for sharing. Awesome hub.

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