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.
- In a wok over medium heat, add oil.
- Once oil is hot, toss in the chopped onions and fry for 6-7 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
- Next, add the rinsed chicken pieces and stir until combined with the onion.
- Add yogurt, cumin, coriander seeds, red chilli powder, salt, pepper and ginger garlic paste and stir until the chicken pieces are coated.
- Continue stirring for about 5-6 minutes on high heat.
- Tip in the tomatoes, cilantro and chillies and stir. Add water.
- Cover the wok with a lid, turn the flame to medium to low and let the karahi cook for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn the flame to high and let the water evaporate.
- Once the water evaporates about 10-15 minutes, start to stir again.
- 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.
- Enjoy hot with pita bread or naan! Serves 5-6 people