Step by step Pakistani Chicken Karahi recipe with photos. Here's a quick and yummy recipe of Pakistani chicken karahi. The kind of karahi you get on Dhaba (street restaurants) of Karachi when you travel to Pakistan.
Last Updated: 21- Nov - 2019
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
What is Karahi?
Karahi, Kadai, or Korai is a thick, circular, and deep cooking vessel similar to a wok but with a steeper side and smaller base. It allows lots of surface area for high heat cooking. South Asian cooking demand searing on high heat and Karahi is a perfect vessel to achieve desired results. There is no specific name for a Karahi in English but it is often called wok.
What is Karahi Curry?
Karahi curry literally refers to any curry cooked in a karahi. Usually, Karahi is a tomato-based curry with very few spices like ginger, garlic, green chilies, cumin, coriander, and pepper. It is usually made of lamb or chicken. White karahi, a dairy-based is another variant.
Why fry the chicken first for Karahi curry?
I fried the chicken first just like they do it on Dhabas in Karachi. Why? we all know chicken has a short cooking time compared to mutton. So if you cook chicken in tomato puree it gets either over-cooked and chicken flesh comes falling off the bone. Or sometimes tomatoes have a raw taste if cooked on high flame. Both conditions will spoil the taste and delicacy of Karahi. So frying chicken and then adding to tomato puree later helps overcome over-cooking of chicken.
Why add tomato puree and not sliced tomatoes?
Using tomato puree or tinned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes is also helpful because tomatoes release lycopene upon slow cooking. So if you don't give fresh tomato enough time to cook. It gives a raw taste.
Is Karahi Spicy?
A karahi is a moderately spiced curry with spice levels similar to tikka masala. Usually, green chilies are added in karahi in the end for spicy touch and tempting aroma.
Can I make Chicken Karahi curry without Karahi vessel?
While Karahi vessel is absolutely essential for getting that restaurant like taste in Karahi curry. If you don't have a wok or karahi then look for wide-based and thick bottomed vessels like a fry pan that can help you sear easily, but I highly recommend making this recipe in a traditional Karahi.
How to make Pakistani chicken Karahi?
Dry roast these whole spices for 1 minute on medium flame with constant stirring. Remove from pan, cool and grind into a fine powder. (You can switch any of these whole spices with ground spices. Add ground spices after roasting whole spices in the pan, stir for 1-2 seconds and remove.)
Ground Karahi Spice mix is ready. You have to use all of it but if you like less heat than cut down on the spice mix to adjust the heat. ( You may double or triple above spice mix recipe, ground, and store in the freezer. Stays fresh for 3 months. The ready-made karahi spice mix is ok too, but adjust measure to heat preference.)
In a wok fry chicken in oil with salt and pepper for 5 minutes until color changes.
Color has changed and few golden marks are visible. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon leaving oil in the pan.
Add grounded spices and other spices in a pan, that is chopped garlic, Indian allspice powder, black pepper,, and turmeric. Fry for 30 seconds.
Add green chili paste and red chili powder. Fry for another 30 seconds.
Add finely chopped onions and fry for 3 minutes until onion is translucent,
Add tomato puree and cook for 3-5 minutes until oil separates and the color of puree darkens.
See the colour of puree is darkened. Now, add fried chicken with juices in the wok again. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on low flame until chicken is tender. You can add ¼ cup water only if required.
Add a dollop of butter (if using) for a makhni flavor.
Garnish with ginger and chili. ( Seeds of chili removed and cut length-wise)
Hungry for chicken curry? Try these!
- Lamb Karahi
- Ginger Chicken
- White Chicken Karahi
- Chicken Korma
- Haryali Chicken
- White Korma
- Pakistani Chicken Biryani
- Kashmiri Chili Chicken (sweet and sour with raisins)
Pakistani Chicken Karahi Recipe
- ½ kg chicken, cut into pieces
- ¼ cup oil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Salt, to taste
Whole Spices to roast
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed, (sabut dhanya)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, (sabut zeera)
- 5 nos red button chillies, ( gol lal mirch)
- 1½ inch piece kashmiri red chilli
- ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves, (kasuri meethi)
- ½ tablespoon chopped garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder, (garam masala)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli, (skip red chilli if you like less spicy food)
- ½ tablespoon green chilli paste
- 1 small (100 gram) onion, very finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato puree
- salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter, (optional)
- 1½ piece ginger, thickly grated
- 2 medium chillies
- 1 lemon, sliced in wedges
- Dry roast whole spices (coriander, cumin, red button chilli, kashmiri chilli, dry fenugreek leaves) and grind into a fine powder. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wok, add chicken, salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes until color changes. Then remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- In same oil fry grounded spices and other spices ( chopped garlic, all spices powder, black pepper powder, red chilli powder and turmeric) for 30 seconds and then add green chilli paste, fry for another 30 seconds.
- Throw in onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
- Now pour in tomato puree and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until oil separates.
- Add chicken to the gravy and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes until chicken is tender. (Add ¼ cup water, if required).
- Add 1 tablespoon butter (if using) and ginger. Remove seeds of chilies and cut each into 3-4 length-wise slices. Add to the Chicken Karahi and serve with tandoori nan or chappati and lemon wedges.