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Karahi Chicken in wok with spices in plate to side

The BEST Karahi Chicken

The BEST Karahi Chicken - Karahi Chicken or Kadai Chicken is a popular restaurant favourite and a dish that hails from Lahore, Pakistan but is popular across Indian and Pakistan. It is a must try recipe, that is easy to make, incredibly aromatic and very flavourful.

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Indian, Lahori, Pakistani
Keyword Chicken Kadai, Chicken Karahi, Lahore Chicken Karahi
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 536 kcal
Author Safira


  • 1/2 cup Oil Adjust if this feels like too much
  • 1 - 2 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 large Chicken Cut into 14 - 18 small pieces
  • 2 Inch Ginger crushed
  • 10 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 3 Green Chillies Slit/Pierced or 1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
  • 250 g Plum Tomatoes Pureed or 8 Tomatoes Chopped in half (see notes)
  • 1 - 2 Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 1 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Course Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dried Fenugreek slightly crushed between your fingers (Optional)
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala


  • ¼ inch Ginger Peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 Green Chillies Cut vertically into quarters
  • Handful Coriander Chopped


  1. Heat Oil and Ghee over medium/high heat.

  2. Optional Additional Step - Add Cardamom, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves, Peppercorns, Cloves and Green Chillies and allow to cook in the oil. Cook till fragrant. This will take about 1 - 2 minutes.

  3. Add Chicken. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes over medium high until parts of it is turning white.

  4. Now add the Ginger, Garlic and Pureed Green Chilli if using. Stir in. Saute for 1 - 2 minutes.

  5. Add tomatoes and salt. (You have 2 options here - Pureed Plum Tomatoes. Or Whole tomatoes cut in half). Simmer on high for 10 - 15 minutes. (If using tomatoes that have not been pureed, the skins should have lifted a little. Lift them off and discard). The oil will seperate from the sides and  the curry should be bubbling. You need to be present during this as there is alot of stirring required.

  6. Add Turmeric, Chilli Powder, Chilli Flakes, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Black Pepper. Cook on medium high for 15 - 20 minutes. Continue to cook on high, stirring often.

  7. Add the Fenugreek and Garam Masala and cook for 5 minutes.

  8. Garnish with Coriander, ginger slivers and green chilli.

Recipe Notes

Serve with

Roti or Rice

Kachumber Salad

Onion Raita

Tips for making the best Karahi Chicken


You do not need to add Water to this curry, the Chicken and tomato release enough water that adds both flavour and moisture.


Ghee adds flavour and I would highly recommend using some in this recipe.

Ground Pepper

Use freshly ground coarse black pepper for best results.


The Chilli here adds colour more then heat. If you are using powder instead and have a particularly potent Red Chilli Powder, don’t use it. This is not meant to be a spicy curry.


You can roast and grind the spices yourself for the best flavour like in this popular Chicken Hyderabadi recipe.


This recipe does not include onions because it isn’t meant to. If you would like to add some to thicken the curry, cook them first in the oil for at least 10 - 15 minutes till golden brown. You could also just add fried onions on top.

Whole Garam Masala Spices

Cooking whole spices in oil adds a lot of flavour but it is optional.

Ginger, Garlic

Use fresh for maximum flavour here. The Ginger slivers and sliced Green Chilli at then end add loads of flavout but no heat.

Add more Ginger and Garlic if you prefer but I wouldn’t reduce it!


Cook uncovered at higher temperatures to really get the oil moving (yes there will be splatters here and there) and toasting all the spices to get the most flavour out of them and the Chicken. (Also known as Bhuna).

 This has the effect of really caramelising the tomatoes and spices and enhancing their flavour.


In this recipe, I use more oil then I usually would. Again, this adds a lot of flavour but you can reduce the quantity down if you prefer. Or you can ladle some out at the end.


In a traditional Lahori Chicken Karahi, whole tomatoes are added and cooked down and then the skins are lifted off.

I use either whole tomatoes or pureed plum tomatoes for ease. 

You can also use chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes instead.

You can blend the tomatoes down after you have lifted the skin off.


Kasuri Methi in this quantity adds a very slight bitterness but it isn't essential. 

Garam Masala

Always add Garam Masala towards the end of the cooking time. This is because the spices in it are usually already pre roasted.


Are there onions in Chicken Karahi?

Traditionally a Chicken Kadai does not include onions and you will not miss them here.

Onions usually add sweetness and depth but they are not needed in this curry.

I love making it because..NO ONIONS. That means no peeling, chopping and sweating them down/caramelising for 15 - 20 minutes.

Anything that saves me a little time on a Sunday is a winner in my book.

Also this recipe is quite hands off. 

There are 2 main versions of Chicken Karahi. This is a Lahore version and the one from North India includes onions and peppers.

Which part of the Chicken is used

Traditionally, Karahi is made from a cut up whole chicken. It is usually a larger chicken cut into 14 - 18 pieces.

I have made it with boneless chicken thighs and bone in which works well.

I have also made it with boneless chicken breast which also works but the chicken is not as moist. For boneless chicken breast, you need to cook for a much shorter time.

Is Chicken Karahi hot?

That depends on you.

You can adjust the spice levels in this curry according to your taste.

I like to add Green Chillies and Red Chilli Flakes. If you prefer a milder curry, you can skip the red chilli.

What is Karahi chicken like?

It is a very flavourful and aromatic curry that is made in a high sided usually cast iron wok. I would say that it isn't as sweet as other curries because there is no onion in it.
Nutrition Facts
The BEST Karahi Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 536 Calories from Fat 414
% Daily Value*
Fat 46g71%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 10g
Monounsaturated Fat 22g
Cholesterol 114mg38%
Sodium 417mg18%
Potassium 391mg11%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 628IU13%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.