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Pakistani Chicken Karahi

A thick, tomato-based curry with fresh ginger, green chilies, and cilantro is the basis for chicken karahi, a street-style dish found in dhaba’s all over Pakistan and North India. Bring home that same restaurant flavor with our chicken karahi recipe. 

Pakistani Chicken Karahi right off of the stove.
Pakistani Chicken Karahi served in a karahi and topped with fresh ginger and cilantro.

Pakistani Chicken Karahi

Tressa Jamil
Chicken karahi is known for its rich, concentrated tomato-based curry with ginger, garlic, onion, green chilies, and traditional Indian spices. Ours is ready and on your table in under an hour!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4 people
Calories 391 kcal

Equipment

  • Karahi, Wok, or Heavy-Bottomed Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 Thai green chili, split lengthwise
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs and legs, skinless and bone-in, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon  kalonji seeds
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • ¼ cup fresh ginger, matchstick, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a heavy-bottomed pan or karahi, warm ghee over medium-high heat. Then, add cumin seeds and green chilies. Cook until they begin sputtering.
  • Add the chicken and fry until the outside becomes light golden brown. 
  • Stir in freshly minced ginger and garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the raw smell fades.
  • Combine salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds in a small bowl. Add the spices to the pan along with the pureed tomato, and stir to incorporate. Cook for 20 minutes until the oil separates- and the masala darkens. 
  • Lower the heat, and stir in the cilantro; simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh ginger, cilantro, and extra green chilies. Serve with naan or long-grain basmati rice, and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you end up with excess liquid because of the tomatoes or crowding the pan with chicken (tell me why I know this), that’s okay! Remove the meat from the pan and allow the masala to cook down over medium-high heat. Then, return the chicken to the pan once it’s reached desired consistency. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2 chicken piecesCalories: 391kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 49gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 234mgSodium: 188mgPotassium: 720mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 108IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 4mg
Keyword chicken karahi, chicken karahi recipe
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chicken karahi served in a karahi.

Check out our web story for chicken karahi!

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Ghee: Ghee is a staple used to cook Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and it develops a deep, nutty flavor to set the stage for the dish. I use ghee to fry the chicken and add flavor to the gravy, commonly called curry (at least here in the U.S.).
  • Cumin Seed: Cumin seeds toast in ghee to pronounce their flavor.
  • Green Chilies: Slit lengthwise, Thai green chilies add heat that doesn’t overwhelm the karahi.
  • Chicken: I use bone-in chicken legs and thighs in this recipe; for boneless preparation, use cut-up chicken thighs or breasts. Be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly; the safe temperature for chicken is 165°.
  • Ginger: Hands down, one of my favorite karahi ingredients is fresh ginger! It not only flavors the gravy but also serves as a tasty garnish. Bites topped with slivers of fresh ginger are the best ones. 
  • Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – just go for it.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes create the base for a rich and flavorful karahi. I use Roma tomatoes because they have less moisture than other varieties. I puree them beforehand using a blender or food processor because husband and daughter aren’t fans of tomatoes. Another option is to dice the tomatoes and sweat them down over low heat; this results in a thicker gravy; however, this process may increase the cooking time.
  • Karahi Masala: Salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds make up the masala.
  • Cilantro: This herb brightens and flavors the masala and garnishes the curry.

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN KARAHI

Chilies and cumin seed cooked in oil add depth to the Pakistani Chicken Karahi

STEP 1

In a heavy-bottomed pan or karahi, warm ghee over medium-high heat. Then, add cumin seeds and green chilies. Cook until they begin sputtering.

Fry the chicken pieces for Pakistani karahi.

STEP 2

Add the chicken and fry until the outside becomes light golden brown. 

Cook chicken with fresh garlic and ginger to add flavor to the Pakistani chicken karahi.

STEP 3

Stir in freshly minced ginger and garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the raw smell fades.

Pakistani chicken karahi cooking in a large wok.

STEP 4

Combine salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds in a small bowl. Add the spices to the pan along with the pureed tomato, and stir to incorporate. Cook for 20 minutes until the oil separates- and the masala darkens. 

Add cilantro to Pakistani chicken karahi.

STEP 5

Lower the heat, and stir in the cilantro; simmer for another 5 minutes.

Pakistani chicken karahi finishing on the stove.

STEP 6

Garnish with fresh ginger, cilantro, and extra green chilies. Serve with naan or long-grain basmati rice, and enjoy!

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COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR CHICKEN KARAHI

What is karahi made of?

There are a few major components that make up a good karahi, and here they are:

  1. Protein: I use bone-in chicken thighs in this recipe; however, karahis can be made with beef, lamb, goat, and fish as well.
  • Ginger: As mentioned, I love fresh ginger, and it is a primary ingredient used to flavor the masala and garnish the curry.
  • Garlic: Unlike a basic curry that uses onions to build the masala, garlic is a major player alongside ginger and tomatoes.
  • Tomatoes: Karahis are best known for their rich tomato-based gravy, and fresh is best!
  • Karahi Masala: My favorite spices for masala is a combination of salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds 
  • Garnish: Fresh ginger, cilantro, and green chilies top the curry for a concentrated flavor you’ll love.

Is karahi spicy?

Our recipe produces a mild curry, and while it’s not overly spicy, our chicken karahi is packed full of flavor.


Can I freeze chicken karahi?

You sure can! First, allow the karahi to cool completely, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag; karahi freezes for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight. To serve, warm it on the stove and prepare your sides.

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