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Pakistani Chicken Karahi – Chicken Tomato Curry

Pakistani chicken karahi is a thick, tomato-based curry with fresh ginger, garlic, and green chilies just like the street-style dish found in dhaba’s all over Pakistan and North India. Bring home the same restaurant flavor with our authentic chicken karahi recipe. We serve ours with roti, chapati, or basmati rice.

Pakistani Chicken Karahi right off of the stove.

WHAT IS CHICKEN KARAHI?

Most people associate karahi with chicken. However, karahi can be made using beef, goat, lamb, and even fish! Karahi or kadahi is a Pakistani masala curry that gets its name from the wok-like pan it cooks in. While the dish gets its name from the pan, karahis are better known for the thick tomato, ginger, and garlic-based gravy. Once you’ve made this recipe, be sure to try our karahi gosht next!

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Ghee: Ghee is a staple in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and develops a deep, nutty flavor; mustard oil is a great alternative.
  • Cumin: Cumin seeds toast in ghee to pronounce and enhance their natural flavor.
  • Chilis: Green chilis add heat that doesn’t overwhelm. If you prefer karahi to be spicy, consider chopping the chilis before adding them.
  • 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° F | 73° F.
  • Ginger: Ginger is my favorite part of karahi! It flavors the curry and serves as a tasty garnish; bites of karahi with 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 – go for it; cook with your heart!
  • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are the base for flavorful karahi masala. I use Roma tomatoes because they have less moisture than other varieties and cook down easily. I use a food processor to puree the tomatoes beforehand since my husband doesn’t like tomatoes. Pureeing helps to disguise them in the dish. If this isn’t a problem for you, then chop the tomato and reduce them in the pan for a thicker gravy- doing so will increase the cooking time.
  • Karahi Masala: Salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds come together to season this dish. If you’re in a hurry, use Laziza Karahi masala alongside the tomatoes, ginger, and garlic.
  • Cilantro: Use cilantro to garnish and add flavor.

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN KARAHI

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

Warm the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Then, add cumin seeds and green chilies. Cook until they begin sputtering.

Fry the chicken pieces for Pakistani karahi.

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.

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

Pakistani chicken karahi cooking in a large wok.

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

Add cilantro to Pakistani chicken karahi.

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

Pakistani chicken karahi finishing on the stove.

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

COOKING TIPS

  • If you wind up with too much 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. Return the chicken once the gravy reduces.
  • Fresh tomatoes, garlic, and ginger aren’t required, but they are highly encouraged! 
  • If you prefer more curry to eat with roti or chapati, I recommend using 1 to 2 more tomatoes.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, we hope you will try one of these Pakistani and Indian-inspired meals!  

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS

  • FRIDGE – Store the leftovers in an air-tight container; it will keep for 2-4 days.
  • FREEZE – Allow the karahi to cool completely, and 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.
  • REHEAT – To serve, warm it on the stove and prepare your sides.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is karahi made of?

Fresh tomatoes, garlic, and ginger are the three major components of a truly great karahi. Fragrant spices also contribute to the overall flavor of the dish. However, the combination of spices varies from home to come.

Is karahi spicy?

It may appear spicy at first glance, but our chicken karahi recipe yields a more mild gravy. While not overly spicy, it’s packed with flavor and traditional Indian spices. If you want a spicier karahi, consider chopping the chilis before adding them. You can also increase the Kashmiri chili powder to three teaspoons.

Is karahi the same as curry?

In the U.S., we are quick to call most Indian dishes with a lot of sauce curry. However, karahi is in a category all on its own. The primary difference between a curry and a karahi is the absence of cream, yogurt, and onion to create the gravy. Instead, karahis rely on tomato to carry the dish.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY:

Pakistani Chicken Karahi served in a karahi and topped with fresh ginger and cilantro.

Pakistani Chicken Karahi – Chicken Tomato Curry

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!
No ratings yet
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

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
 

  • Warm the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan 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 the ginger and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the raw smell fades.
  • Combine the salt, pepper, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and kalonji seeds into a small bowl. Add the spices to the pan, along with the pureed tomato. Stir to incorporate. Then, 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 basmati rice, and enjoy!

Notes

Cooking Tips: 
  • If you wind up with too much 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. Return the chicken once the gravy reduces.
  • Fresh tomatoes, garlic, and ginger aren’t required, but they are highly encouraged! 
  • If you prefer more curry to eat with roti or chapati, I recommend using 1 to 2 more tomatoes.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
 
Web Story:
  • Check out our web story for chicken karahi! 

Nutrition

Serving: 2 chicken piecesCalories: 391kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 49gFat: 17gSodium: 188mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2g
Keyword chicken karahi, chicken karahi recipe
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