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 13 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
  • #ingredient#
  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.
  11. 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.
  12. Enjoy hot with pita bread or naan! Serves 5-6 people


  1. It was my first time ever to cook something other than eggs. I decided to start with chicken Karahi, got this recipe and decided to follow. Although I didn’t had all the required ingredients like ginger garlic paste and leaves etc but the result was great. I just loved the taste. Have saved this recipe to cook like this again. Thanks for such easy to follow and clear instructions.

    1. Glad to hear it worked for you! I have a Handi recipe up on the blog that’s made with boneless chicken. You should definitely try that as well!

    2. Shayan,
      If you like eggs, I am sure Izza has a pretty nice Unda Gravy recipe somewhere here. If not, maybe it’s time?
      Unda Gravy is a staple at most “Malbari” restaurants in Karachi, and each one would have a different taste, a testament to the many skilled cooks they employ and the versatility of the simple ingredients used for that dish. That and naans piping hot out of the tandoor are hard to beat.

      Today I made a beef pot roast, oven roasted potatoes and onions and a nice gravy with the drippings. As tasty as it was, I would have opted for Karahi Chicken instead in a heartbeat.

      1. Thanks Ralph. Your comments are always a delight to read. I actually haven’t gotten around to loving an unda gravy recipe. Speaking of, I went for brunch several weeks ago at a friends where I tried unda curry. It was incredible! I think I need to hunt down the cook. Nonetheless, I Will definitely keep testing one in my kitchen until I’m ready to share with you all:)

  2. Delicious!! Recipe was easy to follow and it turned out perfectly!! Thank you!

  3. this came out amazing and so simple! thanks:)

  4. Hi. I cooked your Chicken Karahi recipe for the 2nd time yesterday and my mum and wife said it was good. The first time my wife loved it but didn’t believe I used a recipe.. I am a total beginner in the kitchen and not used to all the herbs, but I really enjoyed it.

    Going to try your Boneless Handi this weekend.

    1. Thank you for trying! The boneless Handi is my favorite!!

  5. This is my go to Karahi recipe! My husband and my family loved it <3

    1. Thanks for leaving your comment! So happy to hear that you guys loved it.

  6. […] have already covered the basics of how to determine when the curry is done in my Chicken Karahi post. For me, the key to the most flavorful curry lies in 1) yogurt 2) red juicy tomatoes and 3) […]

  7. […] have already covered the basics of how to determine when the curry is done in my Chicken Karahi post. For me, the key to the most flavorful curry lies in 1) yogurt 2) red juicy tomatoes and 3) […]

  8. Excellent recipe! Super simple to follow – I did miss the water though – but it still turned out delicious! Will definitely make again. Very excited to try new recipes from this site!


    1. So happy to hear that! I’m in the process of uploading my Boneless Handi recipe. You will absolutely love that one too!

  9. Diana J DeJong

    Soooo delicious! My hubby and I both LOVED this recipe and I will be making it again.

    1. Thanks Diana! I actually just shot a Boneless version of this which is traditionally called Boneless Handi. I’ll be putting it up later this week. You must try that one!

  10. 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!

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

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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:)

  17. 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.

  18. 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 😉

        1. Absolutely stand by your answer. Towards the end, constant stirring is absolutely needed.

    2. So sorry that I missed this post. Hope your Karahi cam out delicious! I poured in water right after I added the tomatoes.

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