Best Chicken Karahi Recipe | Restaurant Style Chicken Curry

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Chicken Karahi is one of the most famous and signature dishes of each Pakistani and Indian restaurant and home. The authentic flavor of traditional spices and soft chicken chunks makes it a more subtle chicken curry.

chicken karahi recipe

Life’s changed since childhood, memories forming the backdrop. But amidst it all, Chicken Karahi, or Kadai, remains a steadfast link to the past. It’s a dish that effortlessly transports me back. And you know what? My husband and kids always remain excited to relish this tangy chicken karahi. 

Unlike an old-fashioned chicken salan, the Karahi has less dense gravy. The tomatoes are the prime ingredient that elevates the fluffiness in gravy and makes it more robust. 

Recently, I’ve also shared a minimalist recipe of Peshawari chicken karahi that I made with just black pepper (no ground spices at all). 

However, each chef has their unique approach to crafting this recipe. Today, I’ll share the simplest way to prepare this dish. It requires very few spices and takes very little time to make. So, let’s get started!

Why This Chicken Karahi Will Win Your Heart?

  • Tangy & Savory Gravy: After Achari Chicken, the Chicken Karahi is the only curry with more tangy, piquant, and bold gravy. One bite of this delightful curry satisfies the soul. 

  • Creamy Taste: The moisture from tomatoes and onions gives it a more creamy flavor profile and balances the heat of spices. The hearty and creamy texture makes it a more flavorsome recipe for dinner and lunch.

  • Juicy Chicken Bites: I’ve tried Chicken Nihari, and the chicken in this slow-cooking stew is more tender and juicer. After that Nihari the Chicken Karahi also offer juicy and tender chicken bites with more tangy taste. Ah! I didn’t use the marination option, but my chicken chunks are still juicy and savory. 

  • Easy To Make: The beauty of this classic chicken curry lies in its simplicity. No need for exotic spices, no fancy cooking techniques, and definitely no juggling multiple pots. In just 20 minutes, you can craft this dish effortlessly.

If you want a unique and different Chicken curry, try out this Green Chicken.

More About Chicken Karahi? 

chicken kadai

The origins of Chicken Karahi can be traced back to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), my home province where I was raised. Peshawar (City of KPK) is where this Chicken Karahi originated, and it’s one of the signature dishes of KPK and famous all over Pakistan. 

Initially, Chicken Karahi was crafted with salt and black pepper, just like Peshawari Chicken Karahi, but later, people made various alterations to enhance the taste. And now we use a lot of tomatoes in the curry to make it more hearty and savory. 

Plus, some traditional spices, Paprika chili, dry coriander powder, and turmeric powder, are also used in this Karahi for spicy flavor nodes. Now, the people of Pakistan demand spicy recipes, so I did my best to give this recipe a tangier and savory profile. 


  • Chicken: Karahi can be made with mutton or beef, but Chicken Karahi is more famous and easy to make. For this recipe, I’m using both bone-in and boneless chicken. 
  • Tomatoes: This prime ingredient brings an authentic taste to Chicken Karahi. I used the frozen tomatoes and made their paste via mortar & pestle. 
  • Fresh Ginger & Garlic Paste: These ingredients help bring a flavorsome and aromatic profile to Karahi. And also make the recipe more authentic and overpowering. Nonetheless, I use a mortar & pestle to make the paste of garlic and ginger. 
  • Onions: When it comes to Chicken Karahi, onions become a hop topic for discussion; few people like to use them, and few do not. I go with onions to promote a savory sweetness in gravy. Ah! Onion also improves the texture and hues of gravy. 
  • Garnishing: For garnishing, you can play with different ingredients to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the recipe. I’m using lemon juice, cilantro, green chiles, and ginger slices for the final presentation. 
  • Whole Spices: You don’t need a big list of spices for Chicken Karahi. You need some basic spices to craft this recipe: Dry coriander powder, Paprika chili powder, mixed masala (or you can use red chili powder instead ), turmeric powder, black pepper, and salt. 
  • Garam Masala: I forgot to mention garam masala in the picture, but it’s also vital to building a robust taste. I’m using cumin seeds, black pepper balls, and small Cinnamon.


  1. Fry The Garam Masala: I first fry the garam masala in oil. This will infuse a deeper flavor in the oil; later, the oil will make the gravy more robust and hearty. This masala includes cumin seeds, black paper balls, and Cinnamon, and I’m frying them for just one minute on low flame. 
fry masala
  1. Adding Chicken: Now I’m tossing the chicken in the pan. Even though many people first prepare the gravy and then fry the chicken in that gravy. But here I’m using the restaurant style to craft this culinary. After adding the chicken to the pan, simmer it for 3 minutes on a medium flame.  
adding chicken
  1. Toss The Onions: Once the chicken color turns gentle, add the onion slices and sauté it for 2 minutes until the onion turns light golden. 
  1. Add Garlic Ginger Paste: Before directly adding garlic and ginger paste, sprinkle the salt over the chicken, stir it well, and then add the paste. Now, thoroughly blend this paste with chicken to make it more juicy and flavorful. Then, fry the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes on a medium flame. Don’t forget to add a splash of water to speed up the process.
adding salt
add garlic and ginger
  1. Blend Tomatoes & Spice: Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir it. You don’t need to simmer tomatoes for a long. Now add all the ground spices and 1/3 cup of water to cook spices quickly. Mix thoroughly and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. 
blend with tomatoes
  1. Garnishing: Finally, it’s time to dish out the chicken Karahi. So before that, I’m passing it through the garnishing step. Just sprinkle some lemon juice and throw green chiles, ginger slices, and cilantro over the dish to elevate its texture.

My Pro Tips To Make Chicken Karahi Recipe More Striking

Make Chicken Karahi Recipe
  • Chicken Karahi is made without water. The moisture from tomatoes and onions is enough to roast the chicken and make the gravy. But still, I prefer to use 1/3 cup of water after adding spices to spread the flavors. But keep in mind that adding too much water to this recipe can turn it into Chicken korma
  • I’ve tested both tomato wedges and tomato paste for Chicken Karahi. And I’ve found that using wedges can make the gravy more savory. I like the tasty tomatoes floating over this chicken recipe. Do you like it too? Then, use the wedges instead of paste. 
  • Covering the lid is people’s biggest mistake while making Chicken karahi. Please cook this recipe uncovered to evaporate all the moisture. This will intensify the flavors and make the curry more richer. 
  • Do you want more thickness and fluffy gravy like restaurants? After adding spices, use a small butter cube to make the gravy more creamy and thick. 
  • One thing that can alter the texture and color of Chicken Karahi gravy is black pepper powder. Even though this ingredient infuses a more fiery and robust taste, it can also darken the color of curry and might resemble black pepper chicken. I always use small amount of black pepper for this karahi recipe. I’ve opted for 1/3 tablespoon of black pepper to spread the magic in the pan. 
  • My mom always tells me, “Nabeela, keep the flame at medium to cook the chicken just right from the inside out.” And this tip truly works well to caramelize the chicken and other ingredients.  
  • If you want a creamy umami layer of flavors over the chicken Karahi, add a few drops of yogurt or cream over the final dish. I didn’t try it, but this thing works perfectly well. You don’t need to pour yogurt while cooking because it can make the curry like white chicken korma has. 
  • Allow the Chicken Karahi to rest for a few minutes so that the oil comes on top; I personally love the oily layer over the top. It looks so tangy and delicious.

How To Serve Chicken Karahi

This is simple: serve hot chapati with chicken karahi or naans. The spicy mint Chutney, mixed pickles, and Rita work best with this recipe. Further, you must grab a bottle of Coca-Cola to beat the heat.  

chicken karahi recipe

Chicken Karahi Recipe

Chicken Karahi is one of the most famous and signature dishes of each Pakistani and Indian restaurant and home. The authentic flavor of traditional spices and soft chicken chunks makes it a more subtle chicken curry.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4


  • 1 Kg Mix Boneless & Bone-in Chicken 
  • 4 Fresh Tomatoes 
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tbsp Ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp Garlic paste
  • 3 Green Chilies 
  • 1 Lemon
  • Cilantro
  • Salt (Adjustable)
  • tbsp Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Dry Coriander powder 
  • 1 tbsp Mix masala (alternately, you can use Red chili powder)
  • ½ tbsp Cumin powder
  • 5 – 6 Black pepper balls
  • 1 Small Cinnamon 


  • Add the oil to the pan or wok whatever you say. Then, add cumin seeds, black pepper balls, and Cinnamon and fry for 2 minutes. 
  • Add chicken pieces, stir them occasionally, and fry them until the chicken turns white or gives a soft color. In my case, it takes 2 minutes to turn the color of the chicken on a medium flame. 
  • Then add sliced onions and mix them thoroughly. After half a minute, add garlic and ginger paste and fry the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes. I'm also adding a small amount of water because I don't want anything to be charred. Also, occasionally stir the chicken to perfectly infuse the taste of onions and ginger in it. 
  • It's time to throw tomato paste and all the spices. Also, add 1/3 cup of water and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes on a medium flame. 
  • Now, our Chicken Karahi Gravy is ready to serve. Before dishing out, sprinkle some green chilies, squeeze lemon juice, and throw in garlic slices for a more appealing look. 


Keyword chicken kadai, chicken karahi
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