Old-fashioned Curried Chicken

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Curried Chicken. The recipe turned out wonderfully. The crispy chicken is served with rice and a delightful mild curry sauce that has just a hint of sweetness. This recipe is a keeper, and I’m sure that I’ll make it again.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

This recipe is from a  1919 cookbook titled Recipes for Everyday that was published by Proctor and Gamble. Many of the recipes, including this recipe, call for Crisco shortening which was produced by Proctor and Gamble. At the time, it was considered a new and modern fat. Crisco was first sold in 1911. It was the first shortening made completely from vegetable oil, and was originally made from cottonseed oil. According to the  cookbook’s author:

The careful housewife fully understands that her success in cooking absolutely depends upon the quality of the ingredients she chooses. A variable cooking fat like lard, often having unpleasant odor and flavor, cannot give the pleasing, appetizing results insured by a clean, pure, tasteless , odorless, uniform fat like Crisco.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Curried Chicken

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 chicken, cut into pieces

cold water

1/2 cup flour + 3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup shortening (Lard could be substituted for the shortening.)

1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup milk

1/2 cup light cream

2 tablespoons currant jelly

1 teaspoon lemon juice

cooked rice

Dip chicken pieces in water, then roll in 1/2 cup of flour to coat. Heat shortening in a frying pan using medium heat. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt to the melted shortening. Place the coated chicken pieces in frying pan and cook until lightly browned. Turn the chicken to brown all sides.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then put the pieces of browned chicken on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until the chicken is completely cooked.

After the chicken is removed from the frying pan, strain the shortening. Return 3 tablespoons of shortening to the frying pan; then reheat using medium heat. (The remainder of the shortening can be discarded or used for another purpose.)  Add sliced onions and stir occasionally; cook until lightly browned. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, curry powder, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly, then gradually add milk and cream while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Add currant jelly and lemon juice; stir until the jelly is dissolved. Removed from heat and strain. Serve the sauce with the chicken pieces and rice.

48 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Curried Chicken

    1. It’s always wonderful to hear when I do a post that you consider worthy of forwarding. I find it fascinating that Crisco was considered the new and modern food a hundred years ago – and an almost outdated, somewhat questionable food today.

  1. I grew up cooking with Crisco. My mother was one of those modern housewives who took Home Ec and it was the only shortening we ever used. There was indeed a difference in her pie crusts, things she fried or baked, compared to those of my grandmothers and aunties, who used lard. I only recently learned to like chicken curry, probably because we never ate it growing up. I am not sure curry was ever on the rural northwest Texas menu. 🙂

    1. My family also generally used Crisco when I was a kid. There’s definitely a difference between pies made with Crisco and those made with lard. One thing that I like about this curry is that it is a mild-flavored one – which probably aligns with food preferences in the early 1900s.

      1. It was an Indian friend in South Africa who introduced me to curry…and it was not mild. 🙂 However, while I do make it now, and order it on occasion when my son and I dine out, I am still on the mild end of the spectrum. Keep these recipes coming, Sheryl–it is great to see the old, the new, the re-purposed, and yep, even the ones we go “Hmmm….I don’t think this is my cup of tea” when we might invent a different version. I love doing my own takes on Chezlerevefrancais’ recipes, and the fun in converting the measurements.

        1. Thank you for the kind words. I have a lot of fun doing these recipes, and it’s wonderful to year that you enjoy reading these posts . . . even the ones that aren’t your cup of tea. 🙂

    1. It’s a very tasty dish. I occasionally fry foods, and I always find it challenging to decide which oil or fat to use. There are health concerns related to some of them, and others just seem to result in lower quality foods.

  2. Sounds good. If I make this I would use butter; I never use shortening. I wonder how strong the curry taste is? I might have to change the curry/paprika amounts so Hubby won’t know it’s curry. But I think I would love this!

    1. This sauce is mild compared to many curries. That said, if you husband doesn’t like the taste of curry at all, you may want to use even less curry powder than called for in the recipe. Does butter work well for you when frying foods? I sometimes have difficulty with butter burning.

    1. If I hadn’t found this recipe, I never would have thought of combining currant jelly and curry, but they work really well together. The current jelly adds just a hint of sweet tartness to the sauce.

    1. I like both mild and stronger curries. There just different. Stronger curries seem like more authentic ethnic food – but there’s also something fun about making the milder historic recipes.

    1. I think that you’ll like this dish. I really enjoyed it. I know that the ingredients in Crisco have changed several times across the years. I know that it’s impossible to do, but it would be fun to make pies using both the 100-year-old version of Crisco and the current version to see how similar the two are.

  3. Like many I grew up with Crisco and still use it but often in combination with lard and maybe butter. I have experimented with other choices and there is a difference in taste. My family can tell when I use anything but Crisco in my pie crusts. I have “Twentieth Century Home Cook Book” (1905) and it is fun to go through it and see how things were made over 100 years ago – haven’t tried any recipes though!

    1. Crisco pie crusts definitely have a different taste than some of the other crust options. It’s difficult to say which is better, it’s just different. You should try making a few recipes out of your 1905 cookbook. I’ve found trying to replicate old recipes to be a fun adventure.

  4. I remember the day when my mom spent a few more dollars to buy crisco to fry some homemade donuts in.. why? Those donuts were so good! Lard is good depending on what you are making .. I would probably would fry chicken in lard quicker than crisco. I must agree though that if lard isn’t rendered right it does go bad…. don’t ask me how I know!😁 lovely photo!

    1. I’m also not sure how I know – but I agree that if lard isn’t rendered right it goes bad. (Maybe what we both know is based on some vague memories from our childhoods.) Where I live, it’s difficult to find high-quality unprocessed lard. I wish that it was more readily available, because I’d definitely buy it if I could find it.

      1. Come see me! We have three hogs in the cooler,cooling down for tomorrow’s butchering day…. and they have a nice amount of fat as they were corn fed.

        1. You’re going to get some nice lard. I wish I lived a little closer. I’m slightly jealous – though I know that you have a lot of hard work ahead as the hogs are processed.

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