Chicken Karahi is a Pakistani curry dish, and of course, there is an Indian version too. Today we will stick with the Pakistani chicken karahi recipe and teach you the art of impressing your guests big time. The authentic recipe uses cuts of chicken with bones, I used boneless chicken cubes to reduce cooking time. Read more tips about cooking chicken karahi below. You won't need special ingredients to make this dish; so why not make some today?
What is Chicken Karahi?
Chicken karahi and sometimes you’ll find it as Karahi Chicken, or in Urdu it’s called “Murgh karahi” it is translated into Chicken in a vessel. Karahi is either made of copper or stainless steel, Indians and Pakistanis use it for cooking and for serving food. Chicken karahi is chicken cooked in spicy and flavorful gravy or masala.
Different Chicken Karahi recipes suggest different amounts of tomatoes but keep in mind that the more tomatoes you use, the more cooking time you will need since the water coming from the tomatoes has to evaporate.
It’s perfect for weekends to save you time or a quick dinner for those times when you are surprised by a visit from your friends.
Ingredients to make Chicken Karahi
Chicken – I have used skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into cubes, but you can cut a whole chicken into small pieces and keep the bone. Make sure to remove the skin. Chicken varies in size and weight, so make sure you use around 680 grams – 1 ½ lb. chicken. If you are cooking with the bones, the chicken should weigh about 900 grams to a kilo which 2lbs.
Onion – As always, I like to use purple onion, which is used in most Indian and Pakistani cooking. However, you can go for the yellow onion and get the same result. Some claim that there is no onion in the Authentic recipe, but in my humble opinion, adding onion brings out great flavors and cut down the acid released from the tomatoes.
Tomatoes – Choose ripe tomatoes; the hard ones won’t have much flavor to the gravy and will not release enough water to cook the chicken.
Ginger, garlic, and green chili.
Blend of spices – Garam masala, turmeric, cumin, red chili flakes. In Pakistan, they add crushed black pepper at the end of cooking which gives a fantastic depth of flavor, but you can skip it and still enjoy a great tasting Chicken Karahi.
Ghee – I have made a post on how to make ghee at home, make sure to check it out!
Water – The chicken will cook from the juices coming from it and the tomatoes; however, sometimes, when the tomatoes do not release enough juices, you will need to add water to help the chicken cook. Otherwise, it will stick to the pan and burn. Add water only if you must and when you do, add boiling water since cold water will stop the cooking process, and the chicken will take longer to cook.
How to cook Chicken Karahi?
No worries, following the steps is easy even if you were a beginner at cooking, so relax and enjoy cooking!
- In a hot Karahi or pan, add the Ghee, and when hot, add the chopped onion.
- Sauté the onion until light brown and to it, add the ginger and garlic; make sure the flame is on low when you add the ginger and garlic since it can burn quickly and give a bitter taste to the dish.
- Add the chicken and bring the heat to medium-high; cook the chicken for 4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Now is the time to add the spices and the green chili and cook for a few seconds while the heat is on medium-low; burning the spices will also release a bitter taste to the dish.
- If there is not enough liquid for the chicken to cook, add the boiling water and let the chicken cook until tender.
- At last, add the salt according to your taste and the coriander leaves, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low. Garnish with julienned ginger (optional).
What to serve with Chicken Karahi?
What Part of the Chicken is Best for Making Chicken Karahi?
You can use any part of the chicken, in fact, chicken karahi is usually made by cutting a whole chicken. I like to use chicken thighs and legs; these parts are forgiving; they don’t get dry quickly if overcooked. Chicken thighs stay juicy for a long time and absorb flavors better than chicken breast.
If you must use chicken breast, keep the slices big so it won’t get dry while cooking.
How to store it?
Place the chicken karahi in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. If you have made a big batch, store it in the same container in the freezer for up to two months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and heat it on the stovetop.
Chicken Karahi Recipe
- 3 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into cubes
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 medium size tomatoes chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 ½ inch ginger grated
- 2 green chilis cut in halves
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 5 tablespoon Ghee you can use oil
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
- * julienne around 1 tablespoon of ginger to garnish. optional
- In a hot pan, add the ghee and when hot add the onion and sauté until light brown.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for one minute on medium heat. Careful not to burn it.
- Add the chicken to the pan and sauté on medium high for 4 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the spices and the green chili and cook for few seconds on medium heat.
- Add the boiling water and cook on medium low for 30 minutes. Cook until the chicken is tender.
- You can now add the salt and adjust to your liking.
- Add the coriander leaves, cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low.
- Serve hot with Paratha or plain white rice.
- If the tomatoes are too ripe, remove the seeds and then use them in the recipe.
- Use yellow onion if the purple onion is not available.
- You may notice that some chicken karahi recipes are red due to red chili powder and paprika powder, which you can add, but I don’t think it’s necessary for this recipe.
- Cherry tomatoes are ok to use.
- For my readers in Africa. Some parts of Africa use hard chicken (old chicken) in cooking; if you want to make this dish, you will need more water than the amount mentioned in my recipe card.
- Although the authentic source of fat to cook chicken karahi is ghee, and it’s good for you, but you can replace it with your choice of flavorless oil.
- Adding the shredded ginger at the end of cooking adds a lot of flavors, but if you don’t want to chew it while eating, then cut the ginger into medium size, add it to the dish and allow it to release the flavor for at least 15 minutes, and then remove it before serving.
- If you are using chicken with bones (which by the way will add more flavor) the cooking time will be a little longer.
- This post was originally posted in October 2018 and is now updated with more details.