How Many Calories Are in a Chicken Curry?

Just for fun, we asked Google how many calories are in a curry. And among the top results was a link to a page telling us how many calories were in a chicken curry. We took the link and found out the answer was 292.02 calories.


How on earth was that answer arrived at? There is a huge range of chicken curries including tikka masala, korma, butter chicken, jalfrezi, balti, dhansak and vindaloo (there are lots more but we don’t just want to create a massive list of curry dishes). Instinct says that butter chicken is going to have a lot more calories than a balti.

The web page even gave the amount of fat (each type – saturated, unsaturated and monounsaturated) as well as the sodium (from salt). Again, what? How is it possible to give a single answer for these ingredients for a chicken curry? There are lots of different recipes for a curry dish.

Recipes use ghee, butter or cooking oil as the ingredient to use for frying. These ingredients all basically do the same thing but their fat content can differ wildly. And the amount of the ingredient that you use obviously affects the fat and calorie answers. Normally we see 2-3 tablespoons (30-ml 45ml or 1 – 1 1/2 fl oz) of cooking oil used to fry an onion but we once saw a recipe asking for 6 tablespoons (90ml or 3 fl oz) of cooking oil – in our opinion that amount of cooking oil is totally unnecessary.

A recent survey was carried out and it found that a takeaway chicken tikka masala with pilau rice contained 116% of a person’s guideline daily saturated fat and 92% of a person’s guideline daily salt. The survey analysed takeaways from 223 restaurants. What we’d like to know is if 116% of a person’s guideline intake was the average, then what was the highest? The article about the survey doesn’t say. It’s all a bit vague.

A couple of years ago we wrote a series of articles that showed how to work out how many calories are in a curry – the articles were titled “Curry Calorie Count” . The articles pointed out that there’s no way that you know the calories in a curry that is bought in a restaurant (takeaway or eat in). You can easily find out the calorie, fat and amount of sodium from the packaging of a bought (usually frozen) curry just by looking at the packaging. But it’s a different story when you’re making your own curries – you have to do a bit of research and number crunching. But the big advantage of making your own curries is that you have total control all of the ingredients that are used – nobody can slip in extra salt or fat.

We can only say that next time you are told how many calories are in a curry, treat the number with caution.

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