Chicken Karahi – Our Pakistani chicken karahi or chicken Kadai is a thick, tomato-based curry with fresh ginger, garlic, and green chilies like the street-style dish found in dhabas all over Pakistan and North India. Bring home the same restaurant flavor with our easy recipe for authentic tomato-based chicken karahi. We serve ours with roti, chapati, or Basmati Rice.
WHAT IS CHICKEN KARAHI?
Karahis originate from the Khyber Pakhtunkhava region of Pakistan. The dish is often made with chicken. However, you can also prepare karahis with beef, Goat, lamb, and fish! Tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and chilies deliciously flavor the dish with a rich, concentrated flavor. Once you’ve made this recipe, try our Karahi Gosht next!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Ghee: Ghee is a staple in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and it develops a deep, nutty flavor; mustard oil is a great alternative.
- Cumin: Cumin seeds toast in ghee to pronounce their natural flavor.
- Chilis: Slit green chilis add a heat that doesn’t overwhelm. If you prefer your karahi to be spicier, consider chopping the chilis before adding them.
- Chicken: Traditionally, chicken karahi is made with a whole, cut-up chicken, but I tend to use bone-in chicken legs and thighs; for boneless preparation, try chicken thighs or breasts. They will take less time to cook than the bone-in chicken, so adjust the cooking time accordingly; the safe temperature for chicken is 165° F (73° C).
- Ginger: Ginger is a prominent flavor in karahi! It flavors the curry and serves as a tasty garnish. The bites of karahi with fresh ginger are my favorite ones!
- Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – go for it; measure with your heart!
- Tomatoes: Ripe, fresh tomatoes are the base for the flavorful karahi masala. Roma tomatoes work best because they have less moisture than other varieties. I use a food processor to puree the tomatoes beforehand because it shortens the cooking time. If this isn’t a concern for you, dice the tomatoes and reduce them in the pan for a thicker gravy.
- 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 a pop of color.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN KARAHI
The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.
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 long-grain Basmati Rice, and enjoy!
- The cooking technique used to make karahi is called bhunna, or cooking over high heat until the ghee or oil separates.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan with the chicken because the moisture won’t evaporate. If you end up with too much liquid in the pan (tell me how I know this), remove the meat and set it aside; this allows the masala to cook down faster. Return the chicken once it 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, try one of our other Pakistani and Indian favorites!
- Basmati Rice, Jeera Rice, Chicken Yakhni Pulao, Cauliflower Rice
- Naan, Chapati, Roti
- Chickpea Salad, Avocado Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Easy Raita, Chutney
- Mango Lassi
WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS
- Refrigerate – Store the leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for 2-4 days.
- Freeze – Allow the the dish to cool, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag; karahi freezes for 2 months.
- Thaw: When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
- Reheat – Warm leftovers on the stovetop and prepare your sides.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is it called chicken karahi?
Pakistani curry is named after the wok-like pan it cooks in. While the dish gets its name from the pan, karahis are better known for meat simmering in a thick tomato, ginger, and garlic-based gravy.
What is karahi made of?
Fresh tomatoes, garlic, and ginger are the main components of a great-tasting karahi. Fragrant spices contribute to the overall flavor of the dish. However, you will find that the combination of seasonings varies from recipe to recipe.
Is karahi spicy?
It may appear spicy at first glance, but our chicken karahi recipe is pretty mild. While not overly spicy, it’s packed with flavor and traditional Indian spices. If you prefer 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 heavily on tomatoes to carry the flavor.
Does chicken karahi include onion?
While modern recipes include onion or yogurt, we stick to the basics with our take on the Pakistani classic. However, make the meal your own and if you like extra masala, feel free to use onions.
MORE PAKISTANI RECIPES:
- Bhuna Gosht (Mutton or Lamb Fry)
- Masoor Dal (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
- Baked Tandoori Chicken
- 19 Eid Recipes
- International Dinner Ideas
⭐️ Rate the Recipe
Feedback is Valuable – It helps us improve and update our recipes, so we can provide delicious meals you love. Consider leaving a comment or rating below the recipe card, and feel free to share your adaptations or ask any questions. We cannot wait to hear about what you’ve made.
- Heavy-Bottomed Pan , Wok, or Karahi
- Food Processor , or Blender
- 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
- 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!
Thursday 16th of February 2023
I tried this chicken karahi recipe and it was a hit with my family! The flavors were bold and authentic, just like what we've tasted in Pakistan. We paired it with some warm roti and it made for the perfect cozy meal.
Monday 13th of February 2023
I made this chicken karahi recipe last night and it was incredible! The thick, tomato-based curry and bold flavors from fresh ginger, garlic, and green chilies were spot on. It truly tasted like something I would get at a Pakistani restaurant. Thank you for sharing this authentic recipe!
Sunday 16th of October 2022
This karahi was terrific. Felt just like home. We've made it a few times since and it is a favorite for everyone including the kids and a picky grandfather. Very flavorful and rich.