Make Authentic Pakistani Chicken Karahi with Tomatoes

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Pakistani Chicken Karahi Recipe Authentic with Tips

Craving an authentic, mouthwatering Pakistani chicken karahi? Look no further!  I bring for you easy and traditional Karahi Recipe of Pakistan. It is easily made with bone-in chicken and a lot of tomatoes over high flame. 👨‍🍳Breeze to make within 35 minutes. Ideal to serve with warm tandoori roti, buttery naan, rice, yogurt riata, and salads. 

What is chicken karahi?

Restaurant-style Pakistani karahi is prepared with semi dry and spicy gravy with kitchen basic ingredients. Chicken means meat and karahi refers to the type of wok- like a pan used to cook this dish. You can also replace any other type of meat (beef, mutton, sheep & etc) instead of chicken.

This curry belongs to Pakistani cuisine. Well, here’s a fun fact: it firstly introduced in KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – A province of Pakistan). Do you know the main thing of this recipe! The chicken is cooked with only tomato, salt and black pepper. No fancy spices and onions are required. And the best part? It’s cooked over high heat, stir-fry style. That’s why, this wok-Fried Chicken Curry usually offers a bolder spice profile with a focus on the stir-fry cooking technique.

Further, with the passage of time, chicken kadai evolved, and different versions were introduced in India and Pakistan. Today, I will teach you how to cook Pakistani most favorite Lahori chicken curry.

If I talk about chicken curries, Chicken ka salan, Chicken handi, Chicken do pyaza and Afghani Chicken are very famous chicken recipe in Pakistan.

Chicken karahi Pakistani

This tomato-based chicken dish was firstly introduced in KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – A province of Pakistan), where the chicken is cooked with only tomato, salt and black pepper over high flame.

As I already said, traditional Pakistani Karahi recipe uses bone-in chicken pieces, which are sautéed with lightly fried onions until they turn a pale color. 

Later on, chicken is simmered on low heat with the addition of herbs, chopped tomatoes and the blend of local spices. It is cooked until chicken is tender soft and juicy plus tomatoes-based desired gravy is achieved.

Pakistani Chicken karahi Vs Indian Kadai Chicken

Basically, these both words are used to describe the same chicken curry. The main difference is that the Pakistani karahi chicken is dry to semi dry curry and it doesn’t use onion and fresh cream at the end.

While, North Indian Kadai Chicken recipe uses onion and tomato gravy. It features a bit runny gravy. Raw cubes of onion, bell pepper, and tomato are added and cooked for a bit just before to serve.

During my early days in the Dubai Hotel, I made a Karahi using chicken (as the other meat was short in our butchery section) on the order of my sous-chef and he rejected it because it didn’t include bell pepper, onion and tomato cubes. But he admired what I cooked and also told me the Indian kadai chicken version. It was surprisingly new to me.

chicken karahi gravy

Essential Ingredients

  1. Chicken – Normally, we add bone-in curry cut chicken piece in the restaurant-style karahi. You can also make it with boneless chicken (breast or thighs). Wash the chicken and drain any extra water.
  2. Ginger Garlic – In thisrecipe, we add a lot of fresh ginger garlic, which helps to eliminate the smell of chicken along with other ingredients. PREP: One blub of minced garlic and one and half inch piece of minced ginger will be added in chicken curry. Alternatively, add 2 – 3 tbsps. of ginger garlic PASTE. Julienned ginger will also go in at the end, just before to serve.
  3. Tomatoes: When making chicken gravy, tomato is the main star ingredient. Only choose fresh, firm and ripped tomatoes for the best taste. Add half kg chopped tomatoes after washing them properly.
  4. Onion – Onions are optional in the recipe. Add in 2 medium chopped onions for gravy masala. Prep: Always chop them after peeling them.
  5. Spices – Red chili powder, turmeric powder, Coriander powder and salt will make this Indian kadai chicken spicier and more delicious. 
  6. Ground Black Pepper – is known for its strong taste and flavor. So, we will add 1 tsp of ground black pepper instead of garam masala to boost the taste.
  7. Oil or Ghee – Authentic recipe is prepared with ghee (specially in desi ghee clarified butter) in Pakistan. That’s why I will go with ghee, or you can utilize oil of any type available in the kitchen.
  8. Green Chilies – Add natural heat to the kadai chicken, which are very essential ingredient for a good gravy taste. Impart 2 thinly slice and 2 to 3 whole green chilies in karahi masala.
  9. Yogurt – Enhances the taste and gives chicken curry a velvety, creamy texture. Whisk it properly before to add homemade or Greek yogurt.
  10. Water – To adjust the gravy consistency or to avoid the sticking to pan.
  11. Garnish – Use fresh coriander leaves or cilantro leaves for appealing look. Here, you can also utilize fine julienned ginger or lemon wedges to garnish it.

Chicken karahi ingredients

How to Make Chicken Karahi

Here’s my simple overview of how we make Karahi Murgh at home easily and quickly. My step-by-step pictures and video guide will also help you a lot. Further, you’ll find detailed measurements and steps at the end, in the recipe card.

Heat Oil – Take a deep pan, karahi, wok or skillet and heat a generous amount of oil in about one cup over medium heat. If you don’t have traditional karahi don’t worry! Use whatever you have in your kitchen. 

heat the oil

Fry Chicken – Once the oil is heated, add chicken pieces and fry them by regular stirring. At the start, chicken will stick to the pan due to moisture naturally existing in the chicken itself. Stirring prevents burning. Keep frying on medium heat until the chicken turns pale and light golden marks appear on the pieces. In my case it took 4 to 6 minutes but it can be different in your case.

fry the chicken

Add Garlic Ginger – Now combine our minced garlic and ginger to pan along with chicken. Stir them constantly; otherwise, ginger and garlic will burn. Keep stirring until the raw smell goes off or is about to fade for about 40 to 50 seconds.

add ginger garlic paste

Add Tomatoes – Next, add our freshly chopped tomato to make it more aromatic and delectable. You can make its puree. Canned tomato puree is not recommended at all for an authentic Pakistani karahi style chicken. 

add tomato

Combine Onion Puree – Onions are optional, but I will add onion puree by boiling 2 medium onions in one and a half cups of water. Later, I will bland them in the grinder until a smooth puree. This onion puree will be cooked along with chicken and masala.

add onion puree

Add Ground Spices – Don’t forget to include our ground spices to make this dhaba style karahi recipe more delicious and spicier. Include all ground spice here. Black pepper will be added at the end. Mix them well. 

add ground spices

Cook the Chicken – Here you have two options. High heat and slow cooking method. Traditional quick spicy chicken curry is made over high height by constantly stirring until the chicken is tender and the tomato gravy is thickened. It involves a lot of care when cooking and I recommend you this method only. Otherwise, you can adopt the slow cook method if you are lazy or newbie. Just cover the pan and cook it at low heat for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally after every 2 to 3 minutes to avoid burning.

Cook the chicken

Add yogurt – As the murgh karahi masala starts to thicken add half cup of yogurt and mix it well for creamy texture.

add yogurt

Add Green Chilies & Black Pepper – Kindly impart our chopped and whole green chilies along with black pepper and let them simmer well by mixing.

Is Chicken Cooked – Once the chicken meat begins to pull away from the drumstick bone, bubbles pop up in the gravy, and oil separates and rises on the top of the gravy. These are a few indications for you, to know that the chicken dish is fully cooked. Just slow down the heat to its minimal level. 

Chicken is ready to serve

Garnish It – Finally our kadai chicken is ready, transfer it to serving bowl and garnish it with fresh coriander leaves, julienned ginger and also add some lemon wedges to add more tanginess.

A single serving of 250-gram contains 300 to 420 calories. 30 to 40 percent of these calories derived from fats. Ultimately, the calorie content of murgh karahi depends on the ingredients and their quantity used in preparation and which cooking method is adopted.

Best Serving Suggestions

In the following, I will lead you some flavorful sides to balance the heat and taste of homemade wok stir fried chicken.

  1. With Roti and Naan – Warm tandoori roti and garlic buttery naam are on the top of the list to scoop up this delicious curry. Also enjoy it with roomali roti, paratha and puri.
  2. With Rice – Steamed rice and brown rice suites well with runny gravy.
  3. With Salads and Raita – Serve it with cucumber salad and any type of yogurt raita.
  4. Add lemon wedges – To add more tanginess squeeze a lemon piece or add some pickles.

Storing and Reheating Leftover

  • Before storing in the fridge, cool down the leftover chicken dish at room temperature.
  • Transfer chicken curry in the air-tight container or bag and place it in the fridge.
  • Store it for a maximum of 3 days.
  • Always reheat leftover chicken curry on the stove top using a pan over low-medium heat. Add some water to adjust the consistency and try to stir constantly while reheating it.

Tips For Perfecting The Recipe

  1. Fresh Chicken – I only use fresh chicken in my chicken curries for the best taste. If you are bringing out frozen chicken, please thaw them properly overnight in the fridge. 
  2. Don’t Add canned Tomato Puree – Make sure only buy fresh ripped tomatoes and chop them into small pieces. They will dissolve in the curry automatically and build the authentic taste.
  3. Chicken Marinade – If you are cooking Pakistani-style chicken in karahi, then chicken marination is not a part of this recipe. It is only compulsive for Indian kadai chicken. 
  4. Use only Ghee – Ghee enhances the authentic flavor, so use a generous amount. Oil is not recommended for this recipe.
  5. Cook on High Heat – Cook this karahi chicken exclusively on high flame. And please don’t cook it with the covered pan on low heat. It is something different from regular chicken curry.
  6. Black Pepper – Ground black pepper is normally used to add depth to flavors instead of garam masala. Don’t add the fine powder of black pepper. 
  7. Karahi Masala – There are so many ready-made karahi masala’s are available in nearby grocery stores like Shan, National and Mehran. You can also utilize these masalas (by following the instructions written on their packing) instead of regular spices.

delicious Pakistani chicken karahi

What is Difference in Chicken Karahi Vs Chicken Korma?

Both are the chicken base curry but have a lot of differences. For you easy understanding there is a table in blow which leads you an easy comparison.

AttributeKarahi-ChickenChicken Korma
OriginPakistanMughlai cuisine (India)
Base IngredientsTomatoes, green chilies, and various spicesYogurt, cream, nut pastes (like cashew or almond), and a blend of aromatic spices
TextureTypically has a thicker, more rustic gravyCreamy, smooth, and rich gravy
Spice LevelGenerally spicier, with a noticeable kickMilder, with a focus on aromatic rather than fiery spices
Cooking MethodCooked quickly on high heat, often in a karahi (wok)Slow-cooked to achieve a depth of flavor and tenderness
ColorBrighter red or orange due to tomatoes and red chiliLighter, often yellow or pale orange, due to cream and lighter spices
GarnishOften garnished with fresh cilantro, ginger, and occasionally green chiliesUsually garnished with fried onions, raisins, or nuts for added texture
ServingServed typically with naan or rotiCommonly served with rice, naan, or parathas

Difference Between Chicken Masala and Karahi Chicken?

Chicken Masala is a gravy-rich dish with a blend of ground spices and tomatoes often smoothed with cream or yogurt. On the other hand, nutritious chicken karahi is stir-fried in a wok with fresh tomatoes, ginger, and whole spices, resulting in a less saucy and more boldly flavored dish.

FAQs

Is this curry healthy to eat?

Yes, It can be healthy when prepared with lean protein and fresh ingredients, using minimal oil. Its spices offer added health benefits, making it suitable for a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

How many calories are there in karahi recipe made with chicken?

A single serving of 250-gram normally contains 300 to 420 calories. 30 to 40 percent of these calories derived from fats. Ultimately, the calorie content always depends on the ingredients and their quantity used in preparation and which cooking method is adopted.

Is murgh karahi Indian or Pakistani?

There is no exact and correct answer for it. But most of the references tell us, this karahi recipe was originated in the KPK province of Pakistan. It is also popular in Indian cuisine, but there are a lot of differences in cooking methods and ingredients. 

Conclusion

Summing it up, Chicken Karahi is a spicy, flavorful and healthy curry that holds a significant place in Pakistani cuisine. It’s the top choice for major gatherings and special occasion menus. It is easy to whip up at home, the same as a restaurant-style. This was my mom’s favorite recipe when she was young. I hope you will make it at home and let me know how was your experience with this recipe. Love to read your comments.

Pakistani Chicken karahi recipe

It is a famous chicken dish in Pakistan, India, and around the world. Chicken kadai is easily and quickly made with bone-in chicken chucks, earthy herbs, a lots of local spices, onion and tomato. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Keyword: Chicken karahi recipe, Pakistani Chic;ken karahi
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 430kcal

Equipment

  • 1 One karahi or deep bowl

Ingredients

  • 500 Grams Chicken
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • ½ Kg Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Size onion
  • ½ Cup Yogurt
  • 1 & ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Flakes
  • Teaspoon turmeric Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
  • 2-3 Green Chili Green Chili
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Coriander leaves chopped

Instructions

  • Heat Oil – Take a deep pan, karahi, wok or skillet and heat a generous amount of oil in about one cup over medium heat. If you don’t have traditional karahi don’t worry! Use whatever you have in your kitchen.
    heat the oil
  • Fry Chicken – Once the oil is heated, add chicken pieces and fry them by regular stirring. At the start, chicken will stick to the pan due to moisture naturally existing in the chicken itself. Stirring prevents burning. Keep frying on medium heat until the chicken turns pale and light golden marks appear on the pieces. In my case it took 4 to 6 minutes but it can be different in your case.
    fry the chicken
  • Add Garlic Ginger – Now combine our minced garlic and ginger to pan along with chicken. Stir them constantly; otherwise, ginger and garlic will burn. Keep stirring until the raw smell goes off or is about to fade for about 40 to 50 seconds.
    add ginger garlic paste
  • Add Tomatoes – Next, add our freshly chopped tomato to make it more aromatic and delectable. You can make its puree. Canned tomato puree is not recommended at all for an authentic Pakistani karahi taste.
    add tomato
  • Combine Onion Puree – Onions are optional, but I will add onion puree by boiling 2 medium onions in one and a half cups of water. Later, I will bland them in the grinder until a smooth puree. This onion puree will be cooked along with chicken and masala.
    add onion puree
  • Add Ground Spices – Don’t forget to include our ground spices to make this dhaba style murgh curry more delicious and spicier. Include all ground spice here. Black pepper will be added at the end. Mix them well. 
    add ground spices
  • Cook the Chicken – Here you have two options. High heat and slow cooking method. Traditional quick recipe is made over high height by constantly stirring until the chicken is tender and the tomato gravy is thickened. It involves a lot of care when cooking and I recommend you this method only. Otherwise, you can adopt the slow cook method if you are lazy or newbie. Just cover the pan and cook it at low heat for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally after every 2 to 3 minutes to avoid burning.
    Cook the chicken
  • Add yogurt – As the masala starts to thicken add half cup of yogurt and mix it well for creamy texture.
    add yogurt
  • Add Green Chilies & Black Pepper – Kindly impart our chopped and whole green chilies along with black pepper and let them simmer well by mixing.
    Chicken is ready to serve
  • Garnish It – Finally our kadai chicken is ready, transfer it to serving bowl and garnish it with fresh coriander leaves, julienned ginger and also add some lemon wedges to add more tanginess.
    Pakistani Chicken Karahi Recipe Authentic with Tips

Notes

Is Chicken Cooked – Once the chicken meat begins to pull away from the drumstick bone, bubbles pop up in the gravy, and oil separates and rises on the top of the gravy. These are a few indications for you, to know that the chicken curry is fully cooked. Just slow down the heat to its minimal level. 

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