Pakistani Chicken Karahi is a spicy curry traditionally eaten with flatbread. This easy curry only has a handful of ingredients and can be made on a busy weeknight. Garlic, ginger, tomatoes and spices perfectly season this easy chicken dish.
What is a Karahi?
A Karahi (also known as a Kadai) is both a traditional cooking vessel and a popular stew. The vessel can be found in both Indian and Pakistani kitchens. The stew is popular in both countries as well, with minor differences in preparation.
The karahi cooking vessel is similar to a wok but with a larger flat bottom. Most kitchen stoves are not well suited for a traditional wok, making the karahi perfect for stir-frying and shallow frying on electric and gas stoves.
A karahi dish can be made with a variety of meats as well as a vegetarian version made with paneer cheese. The meat is shallow fried with green chiles and tomatoes. Spices and aromatics are added. The tomatoes are reduced into a thick, spicy gravy. The finished dish resembles a thick, drier ‘curry’.
This dish is heavily garnished. So think handful instead of spoonful. Typically this dish is garnished with matchstick-sized fresh ginger slivers, cilantro, scallions and fresh lemon wedges.
Karahi is traditionally eaten with your fingers using flatbread. I have eaten this with both Naan as well as with rice.
This chicken curry is also known as Kadai Chicken, depending on where you are in the World.
Authentic Chicken Karahi
This popular dish traditionally has bone-in/skin-on chicken pieces such as chicken thighs and chicken breasts. You can of course use a whole chicken, cut up. It also includes fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garam masala powder, red chili powder, black peppercorn, coriander seeds, fresh garlic and garnished with ginger matchsticks, fresh lemon juice and coriander leaves. The tomatoes cook down into a jammy thick gravy and the spice level is pretty high.
Why I Love This Dish
This dish is easy to make and cooks up pretty quickly, so basically a win-win. I can make this on a busy weeknight as well as on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
You also have total control over how hot this dish is by choosing which chili peppers to use. While this dish is usually made hot and spicy, we like our dishes moderately hot. By utilizing only two serrano peppers along with sweeter, milder peppers, our Chicken Karahi is richly flavorful with moderate heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between the Indian version and Pakistani version of this dish? – The Indian version typically has onions and has more gravy. The Pakistani version has less gravy and is a ‘drier curry’.
- What pan can I make this recipe in if I don’t have a Karahi pan? – You can make this easily in a very large skillet, large dutch oven or flat bottom wok.
- Can I scale this recipe up or down? – Yes! Stews are scalable. You are only limited by the size of your pot.
- Is this recipe spicy hot? – That depends. YOU control the heat by the type of chilies and chili powder you use. For more information on chili powder, read What is Chili Powder?
- Can I freeze this recipe? – YES! This is a great way to have freezer meals ready to go for busy weeknights. Simply store in a freezer container or freezer bags. If using freezer bags, burp out the air so it will keep longer. Ice crystals form when there is air in your frozen food container. If using a freezer container, fill to the top leaving only a small space for expansion. Also remember to cool completely before placing in the freezer, this helps to prevent ice crystals from forming.