Black Sesame Chicken
55 Min

Black Sesame Chicken

While the state of Assam is well known for its tea plantations, the cuisine of Assam has an interesting combination of many indigenous flavors. Black sesame seeds are used abundantly. When Pondicheri was in New York for a few years, a young Assamese chef, Daisy, came to work for us. One day, I asked her to make us something traditional from her home and she made us a wonderful black sesame chicken curry. I still remember the unusual flavor of that curry, mostly from the black sesame seeds – this curry is an ode to Daisy and a delicious departure from the usual curries.
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Cook Time

55 minutes + marination time



Step 1
Marinate the chicken thighs in mustard oil, minced garlic, turmeric, black pepper, and salt. Set aside for a few hours or overnight.
Step 2
Over high heat in a medium sized stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the sesame oil and pop the cumin seeds. Immediately add the minced onions and let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the edges are golden. If they start to burn, lower the heat.
Step 3
Add the marinated chicken and fry along with the onions for another 7 to 8 minutes. Cover the chicken if needed until it has slightly browned on all sides.
Step 4
Add the red chile powder, coriander, black sesame seeds and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5
Add the coconut milk, tomato puree, salt and 1 cup of water and bring the entire curry to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. The fat should emerge to the top.
Step 6
Add garam masala and turn the heat off. The meat should be cooked and falling off the bone. Let the curry rest for 15 to 20 minutes then serve garnished with fresh herbs at hand.

6 chicken thighs, bone in skinless

2 tablespoons mustard oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 cups minced onions

1 teaspoon red chile powder

1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

1/3 cup ground black sesame seeds

1 14-oz can coconut milk

1/3 cup tomato puree

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh mint or cilantro sprigs for garnish

Notes & Variations

  • Swap out the black sesame seeds for white or for tahini.
  • Serve the curry over a rice or pilaf.
  • Instead of sesame seeds, use a nut butter of your choice like peanut or almond butter.
55 Min

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