Pakistani Boneless Chicken Handi Recipe

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Restaurant Style Chicken Handi Recipe (Pakistani Boneless Chicken Handi)

My all-time favorite chicken handi is a aromatic, spicy and creamy chicken curry. It is made with boneless chicken which is infused with aromatic spices and simmered in a rich and creamy tomato sauce. Handi chicken takes only 30 to 40 minutes to whip up. Served it alongside naan, roti, paratha, raita and salads.

What is Chicken Handi

Chicken boneless handi is a popular non-vegetarian curry of India and Pakistan. Here the word Chicken refers to boneless meat and the “HANDI” means a traditional cooking pot crafted from clay and used to cook a variety of dishes. If you don’t have a handi don’t worry you can use regular pan. Chicken boneless handi is also known as Murgh Handi.

I made this restaurant-style handi with boneless chicken. The process starts by marinating chicken pieces with a mix of spices. Next we prepare our creamy tomato-based gravy/masala by sautéing onion, ginger garlic paste and tomato. After cooling down, this masala is blended until it becomes smooth and creamy. After that, the chicken pieces take a bath in this aromatic and spicy tomato sauce and slow-cooked until tender.

Pakistani Chicken handi

Different Chicken Dishes are most liked dish at different event. Please also test these recipes Afghani Chicken, Chicken DoPiaza and Chicken Manchurian

Essential Ingredients

I enjoy making this mild creamy chicken handi curry at home, similar to restaurant style, using homemade spices and simple ingredients from my kitchen. Most of the ingredients are pantry essentials. So lets start, here are the Ingredients we need in this recipe.

chicken handi ingredients list

  • Chicken – For an authentic handi recipe, we need half kg boneless chicken, either from the breast or thighs. Bone-in chicken curry cuts can also be used. Prep: wash and pat dry the chicken and cut the chicken breast in the bite-size pieces. You can also go with boneless beef and mutton meat.
  • Ginger Garlic – It is essential ingredient of each Pakistani and Indian curry. Two tablespoons of ginger garlic paste is enough. Or you can grate/chop 5 to 6 garlic cloves and one inch piece of ginger after peeling.
  • Onion – 2 medium size onions are required to make the base of masala of this curry. Slice them after peeling.
  • Tomatoes – I’ll use 3 ripe red tomatoes. They add a tangy flavor and red color to this Indian chicken dish, which will improve its taste and appearance. After washing, chop them for later use. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes then you can go with tomato passata.
  • Ground Spices – I will utilize regular kitchen spices, which are chili powder, salt, turmeric, garam masala powder, and coriander powder. You can also add store-bought chicken handi masala powder instead of regular spice.
  • Yogurt and Cream – Yogurt is an important element in this recipe. Because it gives the creamy texture to boneless handi recipe. I will add half cup of plain yogurt. If you don’t have yogurt, you can go with fresh cream or coconut milk.
  • Oil – I will add 3 tablespoon of regular vegetable oil or ghee. Use whatever you have in your kitchen either mustard oil or olive oil.
  • Water – As required to adjust the gravy consistency.
  • Kasuri Methi – One tablespoon for garnishing.

How to Make Chicken Handi

The preparation of this traditional boneless chicken recipe is straightforward and suitable for both beginners and experts. Just follow the instructions below. One thing more, as per my professional experience, people love to eat spicy this handi recipe, but you can adjust the spice level according to you taste.

Saute Onion – Let’s heat three tablespoons of oil in a large pan at medium heat. As the oil starts to shimmer, impart sliced onion and saute it. Mostly it takes 4 to 5 minutes for the edges of the onion to turn golden.

saute-the-onion-for-handi-chickne

Saute Ginger Garlic – Once the onion is lightly golden, combine the ginger garlic paste and cook it until the rawness goes off. (It takes about one minute).

stir-the-ginger-and-garlic-paste

Add Tomatoes and Spices – Add chopped tomatoes and ground spices to the pan and cook it well. Let everything cook with tomatoes over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until they become soft and mushy. Cook it by regular stirring.

add-spices-in-handi

Let the Masala Cool – Once the tomatoes are soft and oil separates turn off the flame and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes. But first, remove the oil from the top of the masala paste to use it later.

make-puree-of-tomato-masala

Blend the Masala – After the masala paste cools, transfer it to a blender and blend it until smooth puree. Here, you can add yogurt now with puree, but I recommend you add it later.

Fry the Chicken – Add the same oil, which we removed from the masala paste and heat it on medium heat. Incorporate the chicken chunks and stir for a few minutes until they change into pale color. 

combine tomato pure and simmer

Add Masala Puree – It’s time to add back the masala puree to the pan with chicken. Also, add one cup of water and mix them well. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer the chicken for about 15 to 18 minutes on low heat. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid burning. 

Saute chicken in same oil

Add Yogurt or Cream – After simmering for 20 minutes, remove the lid and stir in half cup of whisked yogurt/cream into the chicken masala (gravy). Once yogurt is added, kindly cook it on low heat and quickly mix it.

add-yogurt-to-chicken-handi

Taste Test – Whenever you add yogurt to any curry, the creaminess of the yogurt can dilute the intensity of the spices. Therefore, give a taste test and adjust the spice level as per your liking. Also add green chilies and black pepper powder.

Add-green-chilies-to-pan

Garnish It – It is ready to serve. Just garnish it with kasuri methi or with a drizzle of cream

Add-kasoori-methi-for-final-touch

How to Store and Reheat

  1. Tip: I always recommend cooking only as much as can be consumed in the same day.
  2. Store: First of all cool down leftover chicken handi in an airtight container, then store it for 3 days in the fridge.
  3. Reheat: You can heat it in a pan on stove and add a splash of water to adjust the consistency. If reheating in a microwave oven, use an oven-safe container and stir twice or thrice while reheating.

Pro Tips for achieving the perfect curry

I always say that just following the ingredients list and recipe instructions are not enough to make any dish perfectly. Mostly, I post some tips and tricks which help to improve the dish and prevent from cooking mistakes. For this recipe, my professional tips are as follows.

  1. Chicken Marinade: I believe Chicken marinade is very important to infuse the spices thoroughly in the chicken. Yogurt in marinade helps to tenderize the chicken. Give 30 minutes rest in the fridge after marination.
  2. Fresh Chicken – I suggest using fresh chicken for the best flavor. If you have frozen chicken, make sure to fully thaw it for a better taste and texture.
  3. Cook in Handi – For authentic Pakistani handi flavor, cook it in a traditional clay pot (handi). The clay adds a unique aroma that enhances the taste, something you can’t get from modern stainless steel or non-stick pans.
  4. Blend the Tomato Sauce – Blend the onion tomato sauce into smooth puree after it cools down to preserve its taste and color. If you’re in a hurry, adding yogurt can cool it down quickly and then blend it well.
  5. Don’t have Blander – Use your wood ladle and mash onion tomato masala until it becomes mushy.
  6. Slow Cook – Try to cook the chicken on low flame by covering the pan with a lid. Simmering makes the chicken tender and helps it absorb the flavors from the masala gravy.
  7. Gravy/Sauce Consistency – It should be not too thick or too runny. Chicken gravy should be moderately thick which can easily scoop up either with roti or rice.
  8. Whisked Yogurt – whisk the yogurt properly and then mix it in the chicken curry. When you add yogurt keep the temperature low. Also adjust the spice level after taste teste.
  9. Garnish – Presentation of any Chicken curry is very important after a good taste and texture. You can make this Indian chicken dish more appealing by adding fired onion and green chilies, fresh cream or cilantro on the top of thi Pakistani chicken curry.

Handi Chicken recipe best

Difference Between Chicken Handi and Butter Chicken

I’ve noticed multiple times that people often get confused between boneless handi and butter chicken. So I decided to clear, how both are different in taste, texture color, cooking methods.

Despite similarities, you will notice that both dishes are distinct in taste, textures, ingredients, and cooking methods. Butter chicken, originating from India, involves cooking chicken pieces in a tandoor or on charcoal. Its gravy is mild and smooth with a heavy use of butter. Many restaurants and takeaways recreate and modify this dish according to their own liking

These features make butter chicken apart from handi chicken. Below, I have described it in a comparison table for your quick understanding. 

FeatureChicken HandiButter Chicken
OriginPakistan and North IndiaDelhi, India
IngredientsLess number of tomatoes, Spices, yogurt or creamMore Tomatoes/tomato sauce, butter, cream, cashews puree and fenugreek
Cooking PotHandi (clay pot)Tandoor, Charcoal or sometime in pan
FlavorRich, spicy, aromatic and tangierMild in taste, Creamy and Sweeter
TextureModerately Thick and sometimes textured gravySmooth, velvety sauce
Spice LevelGenerally higherMilder
ServingOften served in the cooking handiServed in a bowl, garnished with cream

My Personal Experience About This Recipe

Well, It was the most ordered dish in Lahore hotel, where I worked for one year. Recipe of this delicious boneless chicken curry is straightforward and quick, which I am going to share with you. Various takeaways and restaurants recreate and modify this dish to suit their own preferences and styles.

That’s why I am going to share with you this traditional authentic recipe which I developed and learned over the time. I bet, anyone can easily cook it at home by following step-by-step instructions and with the help of images guide. OR you can even take the help of my YouTube video of this recipe.

Fun Fact: The process of making chicken boneless handi in restaurants is quite different from homemade handi recipe. Tomato-based gravy is prepared separately in bulk for the rest of the day. And on the other hand, chicken is halfway cooked separately for immediately serving.

Variations

If you’ve mastered how to prepare chicken boneless curry, you can easily create other variations of handi. You can also enjoy it with different type of meat including beef or mutton. Here are some examples

  • Makhani Handi
  • Malai Handi
  • Reshmi Handi
  • Fish Handi
  • Potato Handi
  • Paneer Handi

These different types of the handi are very famous in different occasion parties, dinner, wedding, and get togethers.

FAQs

What is authentic Punjabi chicken handi?

It is a famous creamy chicken curry of Pakistan and North India. It is rich in taste and smooth in texture. It is cooked in Traditional Clay pot (Handi). Normally, in different hotels and restaurants, it is served moderately spicy. But spiciness can vary according to one’s preference.

Is this handi chicken healthy to eat?

It can be moderately healthy. Chicken provides lean protein, and spices used in chicken curry provide potential health benefits. The healthiness always depends on the amount of ghee or oil, full-fat yogurt, and cream. Consumption should be moderate for good health.

Can this handi be made with bone-in chicken?

Yes, you can add bone-in chicken leg quarters or only drumsticks. But authentic handi is only made with boneless chicken. The cream is totally optional in recipe; You can make it with cream or without cream. If you don’t have cream, use yogurt, cashew paste, or coconut milk.

Conclusion

In short, Chicken handi recipe is a comfort food that is easy to make. It is not only budget-friendly but also healthy to eat. Rich, creamy flavors make it more delicious. Detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures and video will help you to make it quickly. Extra tips will help you to avoid common mistakes. If you have any problems, let me know and I’ll try to help. I hope you will enjoy this recipe. 

Pakistani Chicken Handi Recipe

It is a aromatic, spicy and creamy chicken curry. It is made with boneless chicken. Handi chicken takes only 30 minutes to whip up.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Keyword: Boneless chicken handi recipe
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 390kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Deep Pan
  • 1 Blander for Making Tomato Masala Puree

Ingredients

  • 500 Gram Boneless Chicken
  • 3-5 Tablespoons Oil
  • 2 Medium Size Onion Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Ginger (1 inch piece)
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic (8-9 Cloves)
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes
  • 3-4 Pieces Green Chilies
  • 120 Gram Whisked Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt – To Taste
  • 1 &½ Teaspoon Red Chili powder
  • Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
  • 1 Cup Water or As Required
  • 1 Tablespoon Kasuri Methi – Fenugreek leaves
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Coriander leaves Chopped

Instructions

  • Saute Onion – Let’s heat three tablespoons of oil in a large pan at medium heat. As the oil starts to shimmer, impart sliced onion and saute it. Mostly it takes 4 to 5 minutes for the edges of the onion to turn golden.
    saute-the-onion-for-handi-chickne
  • Saute Ginger Garlic – Once the onion is lightly golden, combine the ginger garlic paste and cook it until the rawness goes off. (It takes about one minute).
    stir-the-ginger-and-garlic-paste
  • Add Tomatoes and Spices – Add chopped tomatoes and ground spices to the pan and cook it well. Let everything cook with tomatoes over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until they become soft and mushy. Cook it by regular stirring.
    add-spices-in-handi
  • Let the Masala Cool – Once the tomatoes are soft and oil separates turn off the flame and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes. But first, remove the oil from the top of the masala paste to use it later.
    make-puree-of-tomato-masala
  • Blend the Masala – After the masala paste cools, transfer it to a blender and blend it until smooth puree. Here, you can add yogurt now with puree, but I recommend you add it later.
  • Fry the Chicken – Add the same oil, which we removed from the masala paste and heat it on medium heat. Incorporate the chicken chunks and stir for a few minutes until they change into pale color.
    Saute the chicken in same oil
  • Add Masala Puree – It’s time to add back the masala puree to the pan with chicken. Also, add one cup of water and mix them well. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer the chicken for about 15 to 18 minutes on low heat. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
    Saute chicken in same oil
  • Add Yogurt or Cream – After simmering for 20 minutes, remove the lid and stir in half cup of whisked yogurt/cream into the chicken masala. Once yogurt is added, kindly cook it on low heat and quickly mix it.
    add-yogurt-to-chicken-handi
  • Taste Test – Whenever you add yogurt to any curry, the creaminess of the yogurt can dilute the intensity of the spices. Therefore, give a taste test and adjust the spice level as per your liking. Also add green chilies and black pepper powder.
    Add-green-chilies-to-pan
  • Garnish It – It is ready to serve. Just garnish it with kasuri methi or with a drizzle of cream
    Add-kasoori-methi-for-final-touch

Video

Notes

  1. Chicken Marination: Chicken marinade is very important to infuse the spices thoroughly in the chicken. Yogurt in marination helps to tenderize the chicken. Give 30 minutes rest in the fridge after marination.
  2. Fresh Chicken – I suggest using fresh chicken for the best flavor. If you have frozen chicken, make sure to fully thaw it for a better taste and texture.
  3. Cook in Handi – For authentic Pakistani handi flavor, cook it in a traditional clay pot (handi). The clay adds a unique aroma that enhances the taste, something you can’t get from modern stainless steel or non-stick pans.
  4. Blend the Tomato Sauce – Blend the onion tomato sauce into smooth puree after it cools down to preserve its taste and color. If you’re in a hurry, adding yogurt can cool it down quickly and then blend it well.
  5. Don’t have Blander – Use your wood ladle and mash onion tomato masala until it becomes mushy.
  6. Slow Cook – Try to cook the chicken on low flame by covering the pan with a lid. Simmering makes the chicken tender and helps it absorb the flavors from the masala gravy.
  7. Gravy/Sauce Consistency – It should be not too thick or too runny. Chicken gravy should be moderately thick which can easily scoop up either with roti or rice.
  8. Whisked Yogurt – whisk the yogurt properly and then mix it in the chicken curry. When you add yogurt keep the temperature low. Also adjust the spice level after taste teste.
  9. Garnish – Presentation of any Chicken curry is very important after a good taste and texture. You can make this Indian chicken dish more appealing by adding fired onion and green chilies, cream or cilantro on the top of thi Pakistani chicken curry.
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