Chicken Karahi Recipe

Chicken Karahi is arguably the most popular dish in both Pakistan and India and one that is my absolute favorite. But somehow, I could never achieve that flavor and rich brown color the number of times I tried to make it at home. Although it came out good, the chicken remained a tad bland; the spices never seeped into the meat specially because chicken does not take too long to cook. And then I realized the key ingredient missing from my recipe is yogurt!

Purists would say yogurt is not needed but for me it gives me restaurant-style Chicken Karahi right at home! I have also used yogurt in my Boneless Chicken Handi recipe. Yogurt helps to tenderize the chicken and allows the spices to seep in. Another key step is to make sure the juices evaporate. Until you see a lovely sheen of oil, keep stirring on high heat. The stirring does two things. It scrapes the lovely brown bits stuck to the bottom of the wok where all the flavor is hiding, and it also helps to deepen the color of the Karahi. My version is very different from my mother’s and even my grandmother’s. And between you and I, I love mine the best! But the ladies don’t need to know that.

Chicken Karahi Rookie With A Cookie

4.9 from 12 reviews
Chicken Karahi Recipe
This is how I cook Chicken Karahi. It's the closest you can get to the karahi you probably eat at your favorite dhaba!
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Pakistani
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 whole chicken skinless and cut into 14-16 pieces
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt
  • 11/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds crushed
  • 1½ tsp kashmiri lal mirch or cayenne
  • ¾ -1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup water
  • cilantro leaves chopped, handful
  • 2-3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  1. In a wok over medium heat, add oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, toss in the chopped onions and fry for 6-7 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
  3. Next, add the rinsed chicken pieces and stir until combined with the onion.
  4. Add yogurt, cumin, coriander seeds, red chilli powder, salt, pepper and ginger garlic paste and stir until the chicken pieces are coated.
  5. Continue stirring for about 5-6 minutes on high heat.
  6. Tip in the tomatoes, cilantro and chillies and stir. Add water.
  7. Cover the wok with a lid, turn the flame to medium to low and let the karahi cook for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn the flame to high and let the water evaporate.
  9. Once the water evaporates about 10-15 minutes, start to stir again.
  10. You'll notice that the curry will release oil and you'll see a lovely sheen around the edge of the wok. At this point, add in some more cilantro and chilli and pop the lid back on and turn the flame to the lowest possible setting for 5-10 minutes. This is called the "dum" stage which is important to finish off the Karahi.
  11. Enjoy hot with pita bread or naan! Serves 5-6 people.


  1. craig hutchinson

    I’ve made this dish more or less as described many times and It is always a crowd favorite in our house!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Great recipe. I’m gonna try it soon.

  3. I have cooked this dish so many times with this recipe, thank you so much! It’s always delicious, truly love the flavors!

    1. Thank you for leaving your comments Kai. So happy you tried and liked it. I have a Boneless Handi recipe that has similar flavors. Do try that one as well:)

  4. Can you recommend which cookware is ideal for cooking chicken karahis? According to my understanding carbon steel or cast iron karahi would be the most ideal, primarily because with seasoning both would have nonstick properties. However, since chicken karahi is tomato based, I understand that reacts with carbon steel and iron? The other alternative is stainless steel but I’m guessing that may have some issues with food sticking. Would appreciate any advice. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mustafa, there’s no real preference. I cook on both non-stick and stainless steel.

      1. Due to my mrs being on slimming world I wouldnt be able to use oil, is there anyway to get a similar outcome with an alternative to oil as at the moment when i do my onions for a curry i will frylite them for a couple of minutes then sautee in shallow water for about 20 mins adding more water if needed

        1. You can certainly add less oil if you’re controlling that bugger in your diet hahaha. But the flavor may be a little less intense.

  5. I used the instructions to help make me make Karahi chicken for the first time, Soo good!!!!! thank you for sharing!!

    1. 🙂 So glad it was a success!

  6. I love it!! I was so proud of myself after cooking this favorite dish. My husband loves it!!

    1. Love this comment! So glad you loved this recipe!

  7. I must say your recipe has a tremendous taste.


  9. Hey, I was going to try the recipe tomorrow but wanted to know if you’ve tried cooking the tomatoes earlier with the onions to avoid the wateriness?

    1. Hey Pun, That is a slightly different method that yields a different flavor. I love that technique too!

  10. Wonderful recipe. It tasted really delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I made this today with boneless chicken, it was delicious! Thanks for the recipee

  12. This look so delicious I will try to make this

  13. Loved it! Instead of a whole chicken, I used two packages of chicken thighs. I was worried about too much liquid, but was patient and kept stirring until it evaporated. AMAZING flavor! Thank you!

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, Bruce! I tested out another curry recipe last week and that’s even better! Can’t wait to share that.

  14. Hello and thanks for your recipes, I’ve tried a few and they have been great. I want to try this but I don’t have a wok. Can I use a regular steel pan? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah, steel pan would work well too. Just make sure to not skip the stirring at the end on medium to high until the oil releases.

      1. Great, thank you!

  15. I made this and it came out amazing! Definitely the best chicken karahi recipe I’ve tried. Thank you so much!!

    1. Thank you for trying! I can’t make karahi any other way:)

  16. This turned out great! I burned the pan though so it must be because of the same water confusion the people above posted. Other than that we loved it.

    1. Haniya, I will have to check that… I kind of like to burn the pan a little haha gives it more flavor. But of course you can add more water if it evaporated too quickly.

  17. I certainly want to give this one a try sometime soon. Just one question though; your recipe calls for 1/4 cup water. The cooking instructions don’t indicate when we add that in. Can you clarify please?


    1. Hey Ralph! I wondered the same thing. In the video it shows to add it in right after tomatoes.
      I missed it when I made this and I feel like I overlooked mine. Not sure if it’s because of the water or not- but leaving it on high after removing the lid for 10-15 minutes is a lot. The chicken starts to stick to the pot. So Judy keep an eye on it.

      1. Cooking in a karahi (wok) demands high heat for the frying/drying stages, but also requires continuous stirring to prevent sticking. However, the caramelizing at the bottom of the pot adds to the flavours of any karahi dish.

        Had a Pakistani cookout at a friends place yesterday and we made butter chicken, tandoori chicken, aloo muttar, aloo bund gobi, raita and naans. Could not move after that feast 😉

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