Lahori Karahi
Lahori Karahi
5 from 19 votes
Whisk your taste buds away to the bustling streets of Lahore with the iconic Lahori karahi, a deliciously spiced lamb dish. Follow along and relish in creating this masterpiece of Pakistani cuisine right in your kitchen.
Lahori Karahi

Pakistani cuisine, known for its rich, aromatic, and flavourful dishes, never fails to impress, and Lahori Karahi is no exception. Hailing from the heart of Lahore, the culinary capital of Pakistan, Lahori Karahi is a staple recipe and a crowd-pleaser.  

The dish derives its name from “karahi”, a deep, thick-bottomed cooking pot akin to a wok, which is used to prepare it. 

The magic of Lahori Karahi is not only the end result but the joyous journey of creating it.  

As I blend the spices and sauté the ingredients, the tantalizing aroma fills my kitchen and promises a hearty feast ahead. This isn’t a dish for the faint-hearted though, it’s a medium-level challenge, but the result is well worth the effort. 

Lahori Karahi has a multitude of variations, stemming from different regions, each bringing its unique twist to the recipe.  

The Karachi variant, for instance, is known for its distinct usage of tomatoes, while Peshawari Karahi is notable for the generous use of meat, predominantly mutton, and fewer spices. Our version, however, stays true to the original Lahori Karahi with its balanced spices and succulent lamb pieces. 

As is common with most traditional recipes, the original Lahori Karahi was not a complex dish. Historically, it was a simple blend of meat, ghee, and a handful of local spices. Over the years, though, the dish has evolved to include a host of additional ingredients, contributing to its exquisite flavour profile. 

The soul of Lahori Karahi lies in its blend of spices – from the heat of chilli powder to the sweetness of ginger and the tangy hint from the tomatoes.  

Each ingredient dances harmoniously with the others, bringing a beautiful complexity to the dish. The addition of yoghurt further smoothens the spices and gives the dish its trademark creamy texture. 

The final touch of coriander and dried fenugreek leaves not only elevates the dish visually but also imparts a burst of freshness, contrasting the spicy, creamy gravy.  

One bite and you’ll experience an explosion of flavours – the tenderness of the lamb, the robust spices, the tangy tomatoes, and the cooling yoghurt. 

This journey through the history and making of Lahori Karahi is a testament to the dish’s complexity and depth. So, strap on your apron, light up the stove, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of Pakistani cuisine, creating this mouth-watering Lahori Karahi. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

As we embark on this culinary adventure, let’s take a moment to appreciate the ensemble of ingredients that bring this Lahori Karahi to life. The beauty of Lahori Karahi lies in the interplay of these various components.  

Each ingredient, a solo artist in its right, comes together in perfect harmony to create a melody of flavours. 

Lamb: The star of our Lahori Karahi is the lamb, with its deep, rich flavour and succulent texture. The choice of meat greatly influences the overall taste of the dish.  

Lamb is ideal for its unique taste and the way it absorbs the spices. However, for those who prefer a lighter taste, chicken can be a suitable alternative. 

Olive Oil: A good-quality olive oil sets the base for this dish. It imparts a subtle fruitiness to the dish, enhancing the overall taste. Canola or vegetable oil can serve as replacements, but olive oil brings an authentic Mediterranean touch to the dish. 

Onions and Tomatoes: These provide the body and base for the karahi’s sauce. The sweetness of the onions and the tanginess of the tomatoes balance out the spices beautifully. While these two are staple ingredients, you could also add bell peppers for a burst of colour and a sweet crunch. 

Ginger and Garlic Paste: These two ingredients, the cornerstones of many Asian dishes, add depth to our karahi. The pungent garlic and the aromatic ginger form a potent combo that invigorates the senses. There’s no real alternative for these two; they’re indispensable in Lahori Karahi. 

Spices: These are what transform the Lahori Karahi from a simple meat dish to an aromatic and vibrant feast. Each spice adds its unique characteristic.  

Red chilli and Kashmiri chilli provide the heat; turmeric lends its earthy flavour and golden hue; salt enhances the overall taste; cumin powder adds a warm, spicy note; and black pepper brings a pungent kick to the dish.  

Adjust the spices to your preference, but remember, it’s the spice blend that makes Lahori Karahi truly special. 

Yoghurt: Yoghurt adds a creamy, tangy note to the dish, smoothing out the spices and bringing a velvety texture to the gravy. If yoghurt isn’t available, you can use sour cream, but yoghurt is the preferred choice for an authentic touch. 

Coriander, Dried Fenugreek Leaves, Bullet Chillies, Ginger: These final touches are what make Lahori Karahi visually appealing and enhance its aromatic profile.  

The freshness of coriander, the bitter-sweet flavour of fenugreek leaves, the heat from bullet chillies, and the fragrant ginger juliennes come together to create an aromatic experience that’s as pleasing to the nose as it is to the palate.  

There aren’t really alternatives for these – they are the finishing touches that complete the dish. 

Each ingredient has its role in creating the Lahori Karahi symphony. From the succulent lamb pieces to the tangy yoghurt, the pungent spices to the fresh herbs, each ingredient contributes to the dish’s complexity and richness.  

As we end our exploration of the ingredients, remember, that it’s the mastery over these elements that separates a good Lahori Karahi from a great one. Now, armed with the knowledge of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, you’re all set to whip up an authentic Lahori Karahi. Enjoy the process! 

The Art of Balancing Spices in Lahori Karahi 

I must admit, there’s something innately satisfying about preparing Lahori Karahi. It isn’t just about the cooking process; it’s the artistry that goes into balancing the unique blend of spices.  

Pakistani cuisine is renowned for its skilful mix of seasonings, and Lahori Karahi stands as a fine example of this culinary prowess. 

Creating the perfect Lahori Karahi is akin to composing a symphony, where each spice plays a pivotal role. It all begins with choosing quality ingredients. The fresher the spices, the more pronounced their flavour, and subsequently, the richer the resulting dish. 

The first spice that hits the hot oil is the chilli. The intensity of the chilli powder gives the dish its characteristic kick, while the Kashmiri chilli, with its milder heat and bright colour, adds depth and a gorgeous hue. Here, moderation is key.  

Too much chilli can overwhelm the taste buds, obscuring the other flavours. Striking the right balance ensures a fiery but palatable dish. 

Then comes the turmeric, or as I like to call it, the golden spice. It not only provides an earthy base flavour but also lends Lahori Karahi its vibrant colour. Its bitter notes are tamed by the other ingredients, resulting in a delicate harmony. 

Salt, our universal taste enhancer, has the crucial role of bringing the flavours together. It makes the lamb succulent, amplifies the piquancy of the chillies, and draws out the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes. 

The cumin powder, with its strong, warming flavour, adds an exotic twist to the dish, while the freshly ground black pepper brings a slight pungency that lingers pleasantly on the palate. 

Understanding the role of each spice, how it interacts with the other ingredients, and how it impacts the overall flavour profile is what makes the difference between an average and an exceptional Lahori Karahi.  

So, the next time you set out to prepare this beautiful dish, remember, you’re not just cooking, you’re creating a melody of flavours, a symphony of spices that is Lahori Karahi. 

Embracing the Lahori Karahi Variations 

Lahori Karahi, much like any iconic dish, has its variations – adaptations made by different regions, each with its unique take. It’s a reflection of how food evolves over time, crossing regional boundaries and absorbing influences along the way.  

It’s always fun exploring these variations, and today, I’m guiding you through a few popular ones. 

The traditional Lahori Karahi, the one we’ve been talking about, uses lamb as its protein. The lamb, simmered slowly in a medley of spices, results in a dish that is rich, aromatic, and absolutely satisfying. However, this isn’t the only way to enjoy Lahori Karahi. 

One common variation is Chicken Lahori Karahi. Swapping lamb for chicken creates a lighter, more delicate version of the original dish. The chicken absorbs the flavours quickly, reducing cooking time and making this a perfect quick fix for surprise guests or a mid-week culinary treat. 

Then there’s the Peshawari Karahi, a simpler, more rustic variant from the northern region of Pakistan. The Peshawari version uses fewer spices, allowing the flavour of the meat, which is often beef or mutton, to shine through. It’s hearty, robust, and a testament to Peshawar’s rich culinary heritage. 

Another interesting version is the White Karahi, a creamier, milder take on the classic recipe. Here, tomatoes are swapped out for yoghurt and cream, and green chillies substitute the red, giving it a whitish hue. This dish is delicate on the palate and perfect for those who prefer their food less spicy. 

Whether it’s substituting the protein, tweaking the spices, or changing the base, the variations of Lahori Karahi are a celebration of culinary creativity. Each variant brings something new to the table, a fresh perspective on a classic recipe.  

So, whether you stick to the traditional recipe or venture into the realm of variations, the joy of creating and enjoying Lahori Karahi remains unparalleled. 

Unlocking the Secret of Lahori Karahi’s Succulence 

I can assure you that the succulence of the meat is an essential part of the dish’s charm. So what’s the secret behind it? Let’s dive right in. 

When you think of Lahori Karahi, the first thing that comes to mind is the richly flavoured, succulent lamb, cooked to perfection. This isn’t achieved by chance; it’s the result of a carefully orchestrated cooking process. 

Everything starts with the lamb. The quality of the meat plays a vital role in the dish’s final outcome. Always go for fresh lamb; it will be tender and packed with natural juices. The lamb is then simmered gently in a blend of spices, absorbing their flavours while maintaining its juiciness. 

The next pivotal point in this journey to succulence is the use of onion and tomato puree. Onions, when pureed and cooked down, add a natural sweetness that complements the heat of the spices, while tomatoes bring in tanginess.  

The acidity of the tomatoes also helps in breaking down the proteins in the lamb, making it even more tender. 

Then, there’s the yoghurt. Its cool, creamy texture helps in tenderizing the lamb further. It also balances the heat of the spices, leading to a harmonious mix of flavours that enhance the lamb’s natural taste. 

Lastly, the slow-cooking method employed in the recipe allows the lamb to cook in its juices, making it incredibly tender and succulent. Patience is indeed a virtue when cooking Lahori Karahi. 

Decoding the Perfect Pairings for Lahori Karahi 

When it comes to food pairings, I have a firm believer that the right combination can elevate the dining experience to new heights. Lahori Karahi, with its robust flavours and hearty nature, calls for accompaniments that can complement its richness without stealing its limelight. 

The most classic pairing for Lahori Karahi is, undoubtedly, naan. This soft, slightly chewy flatbread is perfect for sopping up the rich, flavourful gravy of the dish. The subtle flavour of the naan lets the Lahori Karahi shine, making each bite a delightful experience. 

For those who prefer rice, Biryani Rice or Pulao makes a great accompaniment. The aromatic, mildly spiced rice dishes balance out the spiciness of the Karahi, creating a well-rounded meal that’s satisfyingly hearty. 

On the side, a fresh, crisp salad adds a welcome contrast to the rich, meaty Lahori Karahi. The crunchiness of the vegetables, paired with a tangy dressing, offers a refreshing bite that cuts through the richness of the dish. 

Finally, a glass of Lassi, a traditional yogurt-based drink, completes the meal. The creaminess of the Lassi is the perfect foil for the spicy Lahori Karahi, cooling the palate and complementing the flavours wonderfully. 

Pairing Lahori Karahi with the right accompaniments isn’t just about complementing flavours, it’s about creating a meal that’s harmonious and satisfying. It’s about understanding how the elements work together to deliver a gastronomic experience that’s as memorable as the Lahori Karahi itself. 

Mastering the Art of Cooking Lamb for Lahori Karahi 

One of the unique qualities that set Lahori Karahi apart in the culinary world is the succulent, tender, and flavourful lamb used in its creation. Cooking lamb to perfection is an art form, and I’m here to share some insightful tips to help you master this skill. 

In Lahori Karahi, the lamb isn’t just a bystander; it is the star. It’s essential to choose fresh lamb of good quality for the best outcome. It should be clean, lean, and with a firm texture. Keep in mind that the quality of the lamb will significantly impact the flavour of your Karahi. 

Now, let’s talk about preparation. The lamb in Lahori Karahi is typically cut into pieces, allowing it to soak up all the flavours from the spices and the other ingredients. This results in a dish where every bite is infused with the essence of the spices, giving the Lahori Karahi its signature taste. 

Next is the actual cooking process. For Lahori Karahi, slow cooking is the key. The lamb is cooked on medium heat, slowly, allowing it to retain its juices and become tender. Patience is crucial here; you can’t rush perfection. 

The final stage is adding spices and other ingredients, like pureed onions, ginger paste, and garlic paste, to create a rich, aromatic, and flavourful base for the lamb to simmer in.  

These ingredients fuse with the lamb, enhancing its natural flavour and ensuring that each bite is a flavour-packed delight. 

Mastering the art of cooking lamb for Lahori Karahi is not just about following a recipe; it’s about understanding the role of each element and how they work together to create a perfectly harmonious dish.  

Once you have this knowledge, you’re well on your way to creating a Lahori Karahi that’s truly worthy of its name. 

Embracing the Spice in Lahori Karahi 

Spice lovers, rejoice! When it comes to Lahori Karahi, spice is the essence. From the heat of green chillies to the aroma of cumin, each spice contributes to this delectable dish’s overall flavour profile.  

As someone who has a soft spot for all things spicy, let’s delve into the fiery world of Lahori Karahi’s spice blend. 

First on the list is the green chilli paste. This hot and tangy ingredient adds a kick to the Lahori Karahi that is simply irresistible. It elevates the flavour of the lamb and adds an element of excitement to every bite. Remember, the heat of the chilli is adjustable; you can modify it according to your palate. 

Next, we have chilli powder and Kashmiri chilli powder. While the former brings heat, the latter is known for its vibrant colour and mild flavour. The combination of these two results in a beautifully red Lahori Karahi that’s as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the taste buds. 

Then comes turmeric powder, which not only adds a beautiful golden hue to the Lahori Karahi but also provides a subtle earthy taste that complements the overall flavour of the dish. 

Cumin powder, with its distinctive aroma, adds depth to the Lahori Karahi. Its slightly sweet, sharp flavour pairs well with the lamb, enhancing its natural taste. Lastly, the black pepper gives that final kick, rounding off the flavour profile perfectly. 

Embracing the spice in Lahori Karahi isn’t just about tolerating heat; it’s about appreciating how each spice contributes to the dish’s complexity. It’s about understanding that the spices are not merely a backdrop but play a leading role in defining Lahori Karahi’s distinctive taste.

The Secrets of Using Olive Oil in Lahori Karahi 

Olive oil – the golden liquid, the Mediterranean’s gift to the world, a symbol of peace, and an essential ingredient in our Lahori Karahi. I can’t stress enough how crucial this simple ingredient is in bringing our favourite dish to life.  

Its flavour profile, health benefits, and overall performance in the cooking process make it a vital part of Lahori Karahi’s culinary journey. 

Olive oil carries a unique flavour – fruity, with a slight peppery note. When this oil is heated in a wok, it releases this distinct aroma that sets the stage for our Lahori Karahi.  

As I add the lamb into the oil, the magic begins. The oil helps in sealing the juices of the lamb, turning it into a delectable, golden-brown delight. Every bite of this meat will tell you a tale of olive oil’s wonders. 

Next, when the garlic, ginger, and green chilli paste hit the hot oil, they start to sizzle and release their flavours into the oil. This mix of ingredients, slowly simmering in olive oil, forms a rich, aromatic base for our Lahori Karahi. 

But the role of olive oil in our Lahori Karahi isn’t just about flavour; it’s also about health. Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fats, which are known for their heart-healthy benefits. So, not only does olive oil make your Lahori Karahi taste fabulous, but it also makes it a healthier choice. 

The Power of Pureed Onions in Lahori Karahi 

Let’s talk about the unsung hero of Lahori Karahi – the pureed onions. While they may not be the star of the show, their contribution to the dish is undeniable. From lending a natural sweetness to providing a velvety texture, pureed onions play a significant role in enhancing the Lahori Karahi’s taste. 

Onions, when pureed and cooked down, bring out a sweetness that balances the heat of the chilli and the tang of the tomatoes. This balance of sweet and spicy is what sets Lahori Karahi apart.  

The humble onion, in its pureed form, marries the robust flavours of the spices and the lamb, creating a harmony that tantalizes your taste buds. 

Not only does the pureed onion contribute to the flavour profile, but it also adds a rich, creamy texture to the Lahori Karahi. When the pureed onions simmer with the rest of the ingredients, they break down further, forming a thick, luscious gravy that beautifully coats the lamb pieces. 

Moreover, the onions in their pureed form blend seamlessly with the other ingredients, ensuring that every bite of your Lahori Karahi is consistently delicious. 

So, the next time you make Lahori Karahi, remember, that it’s not just about the lamb or the spices. Pay tribute to the pureed onions, the humble ingredient that quietly yet powerfully contributes to the delectable dish that is Lahori Karahi. 

Why Lamb is the Star in Lahori Karahi 

The meat selection is fundamental to any dish, and for our Lahori Karahi, it’s all about the lamb. Lamb – a luxurious, tender, flavourful meat, which becomes the star of the Lahori Karahi and takes it to new culinary heights. Let me explain why. 

When I begin with fresh, quality lamb, the final dish is nothing short of extraordinary. The lamb brings richness, depth, and a unique flavour profile that is crucial to Lahori Karahi. Its distinct taste complements the mix of spices, creating a beautiful medley of flavours that dance on your palate. 

And then there’s the texture. As the lamb slowly cooks, it turns incredibly tender, almost melting in your mouth. This tenderness elevates the overall experience of the Lahori Karahi, making it a dish that’s not just delicious but also comforting. 

The addition of lamb to the Lahori Karahi is not merely a preference, but a culinary strategy. Lamb has the unique ability to absorb and enhance flavours, making it the perfect canvas for the aromatic spices used in Lahori Karahi. As the lamb cooks, it soaks up all the flavours, ensuring that every bite is a burst of deliciousness. 

So, the next time you enjoy a serving of Lahori Karahi, take a moment to appreciate the lamb – the star that shines the brightest in this flavourful dish. 

Unravelling the Role of Tomatoes in Lahori Karahi 

The Lahori Karahi is a celebration of flavours and one of the stars of this party is the humble tomato. You might wonder, why tomatoes? Let’s dive into the role they play in the creation of this delightful dish. 

In the world of Lahori Karahi, tomatoes are more than just an ingredient. They’re the soul that adds a fresh tanginess, balancing out the robust flavours of the spices and the rich taste of the lamb. 

As the chopped tomatoes cook down with the rest of the ingredients, they start to break down, releasing their tangy juices into the mix. This infusion of tomatoey goodness creates a deliciously tangy gravy that brings the whole dish together.  

The Lahori Karahi without this tangy note would be incomplete, like a song without its melody. 

Furthermore, tomatoes contribute to the dish’s vibrant look. Their rich red colour adds a visual appeal to the Lahori Karahi, making it not just tasty, but also a feast for the eyes. 

So, the next time you cook up a batch of Lahori Karahi, take a moment to appreciate the tomatoes – a simple ingredient that plays a pivotal role in turning this dish into a culinary masterpiece. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

As I delved into the depth of my lahori karahi, savouring the complex, rich flavours, I couldn’t help but think of other Pakistani curries that carry a similar blend of warmth and spiciness.  

If you, too, relished this burst of cultural tradition, there are several other recipes that would complement your culinary journey perfectly. 

For instance, the Chicken Jalfrezi is an absolute must-try. Imagine chicken pieces soaked in a flavourful fusion of spices, cooked in a tomato-based sauce.  

It’s this spectacular dance of spices that transports you right into the bustling streets of Pakistan. This dish’s tantalizing zestiness is just like our lahori karahi, offering a similar, yet uniquely captivating gastronomic experience. 

Another personal favourite is the Aloo Gobi, a comfort food that echoes the simplicity and robust flavours of Pakistani cuisine.  

Picture chunks of potato and cauliflower, generously coated in an array of spices, simmering together in perfect harmony. It’s a delightful explosion of flavours in every bite, just like our original recipe. 

In the mood for something more exotic? Look no further than the Mutton Pulao, an aromatic and richly spiced rice dish studded with tender, succulent pieces of mutton.  

It’s a symphony of spices, an authentic taste of Pakistan that never fails to impress. The flavours are intense and similar to our Lahori Karahi, making it a captivating adventure for your palate. 

But what would a hearty meal be without a refreshing, creamy side? The Mango Lassi, a classic Pakistani yoghurt-based drink, is the perfect accompaniment to balance the rich and robust flavours of our curries.  

Sip on this, and it’s like a breath of fresh, tropical air amid the exciting whirlwind of spices. 

Lastly, let’s dive into another meaty delicacy that will make your heart sing – the Chicken Biryani. A staple in Pakistani cuisine, this is a beautifully layered dish of rice and chicken, intertwined with a medley of fragrant spices. Each spoonful is a delightful surprise, much like our Lahori Karahi. 

Now, it’s your turn to embark on this tantalizing journey of flavours. Try these recipes and allow the spirit of Pakistani cuisine to seep into your kitchen. And remember, your thoughts and feedback are always welcome. 

Lahori Karahi

Lahori Karahi

by Nabeela Kauser
Whisk your taste buds away to the bustling streets of Lahore with the iconic Lahori karahi, a deliciously spiced lamb dish. Follow along and relish in creating this masterpiece of Pakistani cuisine right in your kitchen. 
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Pakistani
Servings 6
Calories 660 kcal


  • 100 ml Olive Oil
  • 1 kg Lamb
  • 2 Onions Pureed
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
  • 650 ml Water
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 100 g Yoghurt
  • Coriander
  • 1 tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves Methi
  • 2 Bullet Chillies
  • Ginger Julienne


  • Heat up the olive oil in a wok on medium heat until hot
  • Add the ginger paste, garlic paste, and green chilli paste then sauté for 1-2 minutes – green chilli paste can be made by grinding 3 green chillies with a few tablespoons of water
  • Add the lamb/mutton and cook for 5 minutes on high heat until the colour changes
  • Add 500ml water before covering and cook for 60 minutes until the water dries up
  • Add the pureed onions and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the salt, chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and black pepper then cook the spices for 2-3 minutes on medium heat
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes
  • Add the yoghurt and the remaining 150ml water then stir immediately to prevent any curdling and cook for a further 8-10 minutes on medium heat
  • Add the cumin powder, bullet chillies and julienned ginger then cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Garnish with coriander and dried fenugreek leaves
  • Serve alongside a side of fresh homemade naan and enjoy!



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


Calories: 660kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 30gFat: 55gSaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 911mgPotassium: 710mgFibre: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 925IUVitamin C: 44mgVitamin D: 0.2µgCalcium: 82mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Cooking, Curry, Food, Karahi, Lahori Karahi, Lamb, Mutton, Recipe, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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1 year ago

5 stars

4 months ago

5 stars
Hi, did you change the recipe? There was no onion before and the sequence seems a bit different too


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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