Tari Wala Turkey (Turkey Curry) – Updating a Family Favourite

This spicy, fragrant Tari Wala Turkey is a twist on a classic recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid. Every few Sundays, or any time we had special guests coming for dinner my mom would make a classic, home-style tari wala chicken. It’s something me and my desi friends reminisce about often – you can’t get mom style tari wala meat at restaurants. Made with a base of tempered tomatoes & onions, and simmered slowly in just the right amount of water to create the perfect tari. (I don’t think there is a literal translation for tari, but maybe spicy stock?)

Mom’s version of the recipe was pretty labour intensive. Sweating out the onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic until the tempering was just perfect. Then slowing simmering the dish until the meat fell off the bone and filled the pot and house with an amazing aroma that could only mean one thing – it was time for an extended family dinner full of second helpings, and lots of storytelling and chit chat with my sisters.

tari wala turkey | turkey curry

Lately I’ve been trying to recreate some of my mom’s recipes with slight modifications to make them healthier, and also easier to cook on a busy weeknight. In this case, I changed things up by using turkey breast and creating tari wala turkey. I started experimenting with turkey in Indian recipes after cooking it for the first time last year. (Can you believe my first turkey recipe was the whole bird!) Since then we’ve used it in keema, kofte, and butter turkey. No matter what the dish, I’ve found turkey to be great for taking on different flavours. Another added bonus, turkey is a great source of protein, B12 (important in keeping your nervous system – the body’s electrical wiring – working well), selenium (an antioxidant mineral), and zinc (for a strong immune system).

Turkey doesn’t usually feature prominently in Indian cooking, and I think that’s mostly because we aren’t all that familiar with it. Once you start cooking with turkey you’ll find it is not really complicated, just like any other meat once you figure out the right temperature and timelines for cooking, you won’t look back! (Make sure my notes on keeping your turkey moist in this recipe)

PS: If you need a little extra help with your turkey dishes, there are so many great resources on the Canadian Turkey website.

Tadi Wala Turkey Recipe:

Serving Size 6
Prep Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 40 min

tari wala turkey | turkey curry


2 lbs of turkey breast cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1.5 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
1-2 red thai chillies chopped (you can also use green chillies, I just like red)
2 cups of diced onions
2 Roma tomatoes chopped
2-3 cups of water
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs cumin seeds
1.5 tbs salt
1.5 tbs cumin powder
½ – 1 tbs of red pepper powder (optional, but I love the heat)
1 tbs turmeric powder
½ tbs paprika
Generous handful of chopped cilantro divided (keep a little cilantro for garnishing)



  1. Start by heating vegetable oil. (I like to use a little more oil in this dish, I feel like it helps when browning the turkey later).  Drop in the cumin seeds and let them crackle for 15 seconds and then add onions, ginger & garlic paste, and red chillies. Cook everything down for 5-7 minutes on medium to high heat.
  2. Add tomatoes and salt, cumin, red pepper, and turmeric powder. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the mixture pulls away from the pan and ‘releases’ oil. (Don’t rush this part, it is what makes the tari!)
  3. Add turkey breast and brown for 3-5 minutes on a high heat. You want the pan to be nice and hot when you drop the meat in so the moisture gets locked right in. In my experience, this is the most crucial step when making this tadi wala turkey – seal in the moisture and flavour!
  4. Add water stir,cover, and cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add paprika and cilantro, serve over rice. Enjoy!

    Bonus step:
  6. Lick your fingers & float into food coma ….

I’ve only been experimenting with this recipe for a couple of weeks, but it has already become a favourite for my kids. Just this morning I took some tadi wala turkey leftovers, chopped the turkey into smaller pieces & sent it off to school with Armaan in a thermos. We called it ‘stew’ 😉

tari wala turkey | turkey curry

It’s always such a special feeling when I take a classic recipe my mom or grandma made and actually make it work for my family. What’s your favourite classic dish by your mom? (or dad, or nani, or dadi….?) Leave a comment and let me know!


***This post is sponsored by Canadian Turkey, but as always, opinions are all my own!***



  1. October 11, 2018 / 3:45 pm

    This looks like a delicious comfort dish Raj!

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