Chicken Karahi or Kadai is a delicious spicy curry popular in Pakistan and India. It’s made with a curry base consisting of tomatoes and sometimes onion that’s simmered in aromatic South Asian spices. This Chicken Karahi recipe is made in the Instant Pot/Multicooker, yet packed with so much authentic flavor.
Out of all the Karahis and curries I have on my blog, this is by far my favorite. I have a Stovetop version of this same Karahi already on the blog but recently I made this in the Instant Pot with slight modifications and it was unbelievably good!
Spices I use for My Special Karahi
The spices I use for all my curries are easily available in your local grocery store.
- Cumin and Coriander: These give that earthy boost to the curry and essential for Indian and Pakistani cooking. You can also add a tsp of cumin seeds to the oil before starting and let them sputter.
- Red chili powder: I use two main types of red chili: regular red chili and Kashmiri red chili. Note that Kashmiri chili is not that spicy and you will need to add more of it to add heat to the curry. Kashmiri red chili is used to give curries a rich deep color. If I don’t specify Kashmiri chili in the ingredients, please know that I’m using regular red chili.
- Black pepper: This adds such a peppery boost to the Karahi. Peshawari Karahis are famous for lots of black pepper.
- Use chicken thighs or whole chicken. Curries need some loving because the tomatoes (and onion if you’re using) need to breakdown and become one or homogenize, which in Urdu is referred to as “ekjaan.” Chicken breast has a short cooking window and not recommended for this recipe.
- When pressure cooking, do not add a lot of water. I only make sure that there is about 1/4 cup liquid, enough for the curry to be loose. If you add too much water, you will be left with a lot of liquid that you’ll need to saute to help evaporate at the end.
- For chicken thighs and whole chicken, I pressure cook for only 6 minutes in the Instant Pot/Multicooker and then saute for a few minutes on high to help the water to evaporate.
- Always add yogurt after pressure cooking, never before because there is a chance that the yogurt can curdle and split. I talk about the stage of yogurt I prefer more in my other Instant Pot Chicken Karahi recipe.
Instant Pot Chicken Kadai
- Instant Pot or Multicooker
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 tsp ginger and garlic paste
- 1 lb chicken thighs
- 4 canned tomatoes whole and peeled cans are easily available
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder not kashmiri red chili
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup yogurt lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 2-3 mint leaves
- 1/2 green chili or more for extra heat
- 1/8 cup water
- In your Instant Pot, on saute mode ginger and garli paste for a minute then add the chicken pieces and sautee till they're no longer pink.
- Then add the chutney made by blending the chutney ingredients together and stir for a couple minutes.
- Next add the tomatoes to the curry, give it a stir and mush down the tomatoes a bit. Then add the spices and mix for a couple minutes.
- Hit "cancel" on the Instant Pot and put the Kadai on manual pressure on high for 6 minutes, making sure to seal the valve. No additional water will be needed as the chutney is watery already.
- Quick release once pressure cooking is complete and turn the "saute" mode on again. Continue stirring until the excess water has evaporated and the oil begins to separate.
- Lastly, turn the Instant Pot on "Low" setting or if using the Multicooker, reduce the temperature to about 220F. Add the beaten yogurt alongwith a couple green chilis and cover with the lid for 8-10 minutes.
- Garnish with julienned ginger and cilantro and serve with hot naan.
- Make sure you beat the yogurt before adding and add on low heat to avoid any curdling. The appearance of the curry will look grainy when you add the yogurt but after allowing it to simmer, it should be perfect!
- If you prefer white meat over dark meat, I recommend allowing the curry to pressure cook and then add chicken breast and cook that on "saute" mode. Chicken breast cannot survive the 6 min pressure cooking time and will dry out.