Chicken Karahi
Chicken Karahi
5 from 38 votes
Chicken karahi or chicken kadai is a spicy chicken curry recipe made with fragrant spices and fresh ginger. With this authentic chicken karahi recipe, you will be guaranteed to impress all your friends and families.
Chicken Karahi

Chicken Karahi is not just any ordinary chicken dish; it’s a culmination of rich South Asian flavours and history. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, its name “Karahi” is derived from the type of pan it’s cooked in – a round-bottomed wok.

This dish has seen the sands of time, transitioning from Mughal royal dinners to our contemporary kitchens.

So, what makes Chicken Karahi stand out in a world bursting with curries? It’s the dance of spices and the rustic touch that elevates its taste. Making this dish isn’t a Herculean task; in fact, it’s quite straightforward.

Newbies, don’t fret! This recipe falls under the moderate difficulty range, ensuring even those with limited kitchen experience can whip it up.

Like every iconic dish, Chicken Karahi has had its share of variations. Some chefs prefer to give it a creamy twist by adding cream, while others bring out its tanginess with a splash of lemon. The richness of its gravy can vary from region to region.

Whether it’s the robust Karahi from Lahore or the spicy one from Karachi, each region has sprinkled its magic, presenting a plethora of flavours for our palates.

The core ingredients, like chicken, tomatoes, and ginger-garlic paste, remain standard. However, the blend of spices and the technique of layering them can create nuanced differences in flavour. The essence of any Chicken Karahi lies in its masalas and the sequential addition of ingredients.

One might wonder, with so many chicken dishes around, why opt for Chicken Karahi? The answer is simple: its authenticity. This dish doesn’t cloak itself in unnecessary intricacies.

It’s raw, it’s real, and it mirrors the culinary soul of its place of origin. While most chicken dishes might need a sidekick, Chicken Karahi is the hero that stands tall on its own.

Pair it up with a soft naan, and you’re in for a treat. Each bite is a symphony of spices, making you resonate with its history, depth, and craftsmanship. So the next time you wish to take a culinary journey to the vibrant lanes of South Asia, Chicken Karahi is your ticket.

Buckle up, dear foodies. The world of Chicken Karahi beckons. Dive in, savour its richness, and let your taste buds experience a festival of flavours.

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Delving into Chicken Karahi means navigating an orchestra of flavours. Each ingredient has its unique role, contributing to a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. Let me guide you through these culinary notes, and together, we’ll explore what makes Chicken Karahi such an iconic delicacy.

Oil: The conductor of our recipe. Oil ensures that the other ingredients blend seamlessly, extracting and marrying flavours. It’s responsible for the initial sautéing, setting the tone of the dish.

While I’ve used regular cooking oil here, ghee or clarified butter can be an indulgent alternative, adding depth and richness.

Chicken: Its tender and juicy meat absorbs the spices perfectly, making it the primary source of protein and substance in our dish. If you’re vegetarian or prefer another protein source, paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu can work as a delightful substitute.

Onions: These bring a subtle sweetness, balancing out the fiery spices. When sautéed to perfection, they lend a caramelized taste and a velvety texture to the curry. Shallots can be an alternative if you seek a more delicate oniony flavour.

Tomatoes: The tangy stalwarts. They offer a refreshing acidity, preventing the dish from becoming too heavy. For a different twist, you can use tomato puree or even cherry tomatoes for a burst of flavour.

Ginger and Garlic Paste: The dynamic duo. Their pungent flavours are the backbone of many South Asian dishes, including our Karahi. They introduce a zest that’s irreplaceable, but in a pinch, store-bought pastes or even ginger-garlic powder can come to the rescue.

Spices: The soul singers of our orchestra. Each spice brings its melody: salt enhances flavours, chilli adds heat, black pepper introduces a warm kick, turmeric bestows a golden hue and earthy taste, and garam masala crowns the dish with its aromatic blend.

While authentic spices are ideal, all-purpose seasoning or curry powders can be used in minimal amounts as substitutes.

Yoghurt: This creamy addition balances out the spices, offering a smooth texture and a slight tang. If dairy isn’t your thing or you desire a richer alternative, coconut milk or almond yoghurt can be used.

Coriander: A sprinkle of freshness! Coriander leaves elevate the dish with their citrusy notes, adding colour and vibrancy. Parsley can serve as an alternative, although the flavour profile will differ.

Julienned Ginger & Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi): These are the supporting actors, ensuring the dish has layers of flavours. While ginger adds a spicy-sweet touch, methi gives a unique bitterness. If methi is unavailable, you can skip it, but its distinctiveness will be missed.

Cumin Seeds (Jeera): Adding a nutty and earthy aroma, jeera seeds enhance the overall depth of the Karahi. Caraway seeds can be an alternative, but use them sparingly due to their intense flavour.

Green Chillies: The spice kickers. They introduce a level of heat, making the dish more vibrant and lively. If you’re not a fan of extreme heat, bell peppers or mild banana peppers can be used.

Having explored the nuances of each ingredient, we can appreciate the intricate dance they perform in Chicken Karahi.

It’s a recipe that captures the essence of South Asian cuisine, where every element has a purpose. As you venture into making this dish, embrace the harmony of flavours, and let your culinary journey be as delightful as the dish itself.

The Allure of Cooking with a Karahi

When I first set my eyes on a Karahi, it wasn’t just the aesthetics of this round-bottomed wok that appealed to me; it was the promise of authentic South Asian dishes it beckoned.

Many might wonder why a cooking vessel would warrant such attention, but for a seasoned chef or a passionate cook, the right equipment is half the battle won.

Historically rooted in the Indian subcontinent, the Karahi has been an integral part of kitchens for generations. Its unique design is suited for rapid cooking over high heat, making it the perfect companion for dishes that require a fast-fry method.

But beyond its functionality, there’s a certain charm in preparing a meal in a vessel that holds so much cultural significance.

I remember crafting my first Chicken Karahi in this wondrous pot. The way the spices reacted to its metallic surface, the even distribution of heat, and the aroma that wafted through as the ingredients blended in harmony – it was magical. Sure, modern cookware might promise efficiency, but the essence of tradition a Karahi captures? Priceless.

Now, here’s a little secret for those delving into Karahi cooking: the seasoning. Just like you’d season a cast-iron skillet, seasoning a Karahi before its maiden use can make all the difference. It aids in creating a non-stick surface and ensures your dish imbibes all the nuanced flavours.

If you’ve never tried making a dish in a Karahi, I’d say it’s about time. Not just for the delectable outcome but for the experience it offers. It’s a dance between tradition and modernity, where each stir, each sizzle, and each aroma transports you back in time.

The Symphony of Spices in Chicken Karahi

The first time I made Chicken Karahi, I was instantly captivated by the play of spices that went into it. Each spice, with its unique flavour, contributes to the dish’s harmony, creating an orchestra of tastes in the mouth.

Turmeric, for instance, isn’t just there to give the curry its vibrant yellow tint. It brings an earthy warmth to the dish. When I sprinkle turmeric into the simmering mixture of tomatoes and onions, the entire Karahi is bathed in a golden hue, signalling the start of a culinary masterpiece.

Chilli powder is another crucial player. While many assume it’s just about the heat, there’s more to it. It provides a depth, a kick, that underpins the dish, ensuring that every bite has a resonant echo of warmth. Though it sounds counterintuitive, the heat from the chilli allows other, subtler flavours to shine.

Black pepper is another spice that I cherish. While it shares the stage with chilli powder in providing heat, its role is more nuanced. It’s a top note, a zesty burst that dances on the taste buds, contrasting the deep warmth of chilli.

Then comes the Garam Masala, the crown jewel in many Indian dishes. It’s not a singular spice but a blend of many. When I introduce Garam Masala into the mix, it feels like the final note in a beautiful song, rounding up all the flavours, binding them together in a rich embrace.

The mastery of Chicken Karahi lies in understanding these spices. It’s about realizing that they’re not just ingredients but characters in a story, each with its role, its moment in the spotlight.

And when they all come together, what you get is a dish that is, in essence, a reflection of South Asian culinary heritage.

On the Creaminess of Yoghurt in South Asian Dishes

There was a time I overlooked the role of yoghurt in recipes. I saw it as a simple, creamy agent, occasionally useful for texture. But when I delved into the realm of South Asian cooking and particularly dishes like Chicken Karahi, my perspective took a turn.

In the midst of robust and fiery spices, yoghurt plays the peacemaker. It steps in to mellow things down, bringing a luscious creaminess that balances out the heat. When I pour yoghurt into the Karahi, it swirls around, merging with the spices, creating a rich, velvety base.

But yoghurt isn’t just about creaminess. It carries a slight tang, which introduces a subtle sour note to the dish. This tanginess contrasts beautifully with the other ingredients, ensuring that the palate experiences a play of flavours – spicy, earthy, and tangy, all at once.

Moreover, yoghurt acts as a tenderizer. Especially in meat dishes, it ensures the meat becomes soft, succulent, and flavourful. Every time I add yoghurt to Chicken Karahi, I know that it’s not just contributing to the taste but ensuring that the chicken pieces are moist and melt-in-the-mouth.

Another beautiful thing about yoghurt is its adaptability. There are days I go for the full-fat version, wanting to indulge in a rich, creamy curry. On others, I might opt for a low-fat variant, seeking a lighter, yet equally flavourful dish.

Yoghurt is like the unsung hero in many South Asian dishes. While spices often get the limelight, yoghurt works silently in the background, ensuring harmony, depth, and that luxurious texture we all love in a good curry.

And each time I scoop up Chicken Karahi with a piece of naan, I am reminded of yoghurt’s indispensable role in the culinary world.

The Magic of Ginger and Garlic in Chicken Karahi

Ah, ginger and garlic, the dynamic duo of the culinary world! Every time I embark on the journey of making Chicken Karahi, these two ingredients are my steadfast companions. They’re like the Batman and Robin of my kitchen, indispensable and packed with a punch.

Ginger, with its fiery zest, always reminds me of its power in the very first bite. In my Chicken Karahi, when ginger paste melds with the oils and onions, it doesn’t just infuse the dish with its flavour; it elevates it.

A tad spicy and slightly sweet, ginger has this unique ability to introduce both warmth and brightness in the recipe. But beyond its taste, it’s the aromatic kick it gives off that truly captivates. Just a hint of ginger can transform the whole olfactory experience of cooking.

Garlic, on the other hand, is the earthy counterpart to ginger’s zing. It’s not loud; it’s deep, grounding the dish with its robust flavour. As I stir in the garlic paste, I can feel the aroma rise, rich and pungent, promising a depth that few other ingredients can offer.

And there’s something so satisfying about that sizzle when garlic meets hot oil, signalling the start of a flavoursome adventure.

When combined, ginger and garlic create a base that’s both aromatic and flavourful. It’s this combination that gives Chicken Karahi its distinctive taste, ensuring that the flavours aren’t just on the surface but deeply embedded into every morsel.

And if ever I’m out of fresh ginger or garlic? I always keep a stash of ginger-garlic paste in my fridge. It’s my secret weapon to ensure that even on the busiest days, my Chicken Karahi doesn’t compromise on taste.

The Underappreciated Role of Onions in Chicken Karahi

Onions, those teary bulbs, are one of the most underappreciated ingredients in the kitchen. Yet, whenever I set out to prepare Chicken Karahi, they become the unsung heroes, laying the foundation for the dish.

When I dice the onions for Chicken Karahi, it’s not just about chopping; it’s a ritual. The goal? To achieve that perfect, golden-brown hue. This caramelization isn’t merely for aesthetics.

It’s a flavour powerhouse. As the onions turn translucent in the oil, they release their sugars, which caramelize and bring out a sweetness. This sweetness, juxtaposed against the fiery spices, creates a balance that’s at the heart of Chicken Karahi’s charm.

Onions also bring a certain body to the dish. Their layers, when cooked down, make the curry rich and thick, giving it that perfect consistency I desire. And let’s not forget the aroma.

There’s a certain warmth and comfort that wafts through my kitchen when onions are sizzling away, signalling that something delightful is on the stove.

But here’s a confession: not all onions are created equal. While the regular white onions are my usual go-to, there are days I experiment with red onions for a sharper taste or shallots for a milder, more refined flavour.

Onions are the backbone of Chicken Karahi. They may not be flashy or exuberant, but they’re steadfast, ensuring that the dish has depth, texture, and a balance of flavours. Each time I dig into a bowl of Chicken Karahi, I’m silently thanking those humble onions for their remarkable contribution.

The Tangy Twist of Tomatoes in Chicken Karahi

Tomatoes, with their bright red hue and tangy undertones, always find their way into my Chicken Karahi. They are not just a mere addition; they’re the soul of the dish. Imagine diving into a bowl of Karahi without the sumptuous gravy made thick and tangy by tomatoes; it just wouldn’t be the same.

Each time I cook Chicken Karahi, the anticipation builds as I chop the tomatoes. Their juicy interiors, with seeds and pulpy flesh, promise a burst of flavour. As I add them to the sizzling mixture of ginger, garlic, and caramelized onions, the transformation begins.

The initial resistance of the tomatoes eventually gives way to a soft, melded texture that forms the base of the curry.

The acidity in tomatoes cuts through the richness of the chicken, balancing out the robust flavours. They introduce a tanginess that complements the spices perfectly. This mild sourness, combined with the aromatic spices, creates a tantalizing palette of flavours that’s hard to resist.

Beyond the taste, tomatoes bring a beautiful colour to the dish. That rich, reddish hue of Chicken Karahi owes it all to the tomatoes. They make the dish visually appealing, tempting me to dig in the moment it’s served.

But, let’s be real for a moment. There are days when fresh tomatoes aren’t at hand, or they lack that juicy ripeness I crave. During such times, canned tomatoes or tomato purée are my trusted allies. They might not offer the exact freshness, but they never compromise on the tang and colour.

Check Out These Other Recipes

After diving into the delightful flavours of Chicken Karahi, I found myself drawn back to the world of Indian cuisine. I remembered the time I crafted a Chicken Jalfrezi, where the mix of bell peppers and chicken sent my taste buds on a whirlwind journey.

It reminded me of the taste adventure I had when trying my hand at a classic Chicken Biryani. The aromatic rice paired with the richly spiced chicken was something my friends and family still rave about.

On another day, I felt adventurous and opted for a Chicken Dopiaza, which surprised me with its double onion flavour punch.

I was equally amazed when I tried the Chicken Tikka Masala, with its creamy tomato gravy that never fails to make me crave more. And let’s not forget the Lahori Karahi, a recipe that transports me right back to the bustling streets of Lahore with every bite.

If any of these delectable dishes pique your interest, I urge you to give them a try! And when you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Let’s keep this flavour journey going!

Chicken Karahi

Chicken Karahi

by Nabeela Kauser
Chicken karahi or chicken kadai is a spicy chicken curry recipe made with fragrant spices and fresh ginger. With this authentic chicken karahi recipe, you will be guaranteed to impress all your friends and families.
5 from 38 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4
Calories 435 kcal


  • 50 ml Oil
  • 1 kg Chicken
  • 2 Onions
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Paste
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala
  • 100 g Yoghurt
  • Coriander
  • Ginger Julienned
  • 1 tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves Methi
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds Jeera
  • 1 Green Chillies


  • In a karahi pot or round-bottomed wok heat up the oil on low heat until hot
  • Add the finely diced onions and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned but be careful not to burn
  • Add the ginger paste and the garlic paste then cook for 2-3 minutes mixing thoroughly to ensure that the pastes evenly distribute through the curry
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft
  • Add the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes until the chicken has changed colour and there is no sign of any pinkness on the outside of the chicken
  • Add the salt, chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric powder and garam masala then cook the spices for 3-4 minutes stirring to ensure that the spices do not stick to the pan
  • Add the yoghurt then stir immediately to prevent the yoghurt from curdling and cook for 8-10 minutes
  • Add the finely diced rocket chillies, julienned ginger, cumin seeds, dried fenugreek leaves and coriander then mix until combined
  • Serve immediately with homemade naan then enjoy!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 435kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 25gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 733mgPotassium: 618mgFibre: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1120IUVitamin C: 21mgVitamin D: 0.3µgCalcium: 82mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chicken, Cooking, Curry, Food, Karahi, Recipe, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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9 months ago

5 stars
Great recipe Highly rated!! Thank you!

3 months ago

5 stars
When do I add the cumin seeds?


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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