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What is chicken karahi?
Chicken Karahi (also known as Kadai Chicken) is a chicken curry from Pakistan and Northern India.
It is a very popular dish because it is so quick and easy to prepare.
With just a little chopping and some hands off simmering time, you can have a flavorful curry dinner on the table in 30 minutes!
What is a karahi?
Karahi (pronounced kar-ah-hee) is the Hindi name for a two handled, deep cooking vessel that looks like a wok with steeper sides. This vessel, which may also be called a kadai, korai, or kadhi, is used in many Indian and Pakistani kitchens.
They can be quite pretty!
Traditionally, kahari vessels are used for frying and making stews. The dishes that are cooked in a karahi are often called by that name as well.
You find this practice of naming the dish after the cooking vessel in many cultures around the world. One of the most well known is a Moroccan tajine.
Since we don’t have a karahi, we used a skillet to make our chicken karahi. You could also use a wok.
Just don’t let the cooking vessel keep you from this tasty dish!
Pakistani chicken karahi vs North Indian chicken karahi
As with any dish with widespread regional affection, there are many variations to Chicken Karahi based on region or the family cook who is making the dish.
The most notable difference is between the Chicken Kahari is the difference between how they make the dish in Pakistan versus their neighbors in North India.
North Indian Chicken Karahi tends to include onions and green peppers, while Pakistani Chicken Karahi does not.
However, this is by no means a hard and fast rule.
We’re sticking with the Pakistani version today, but if you like onions and green peppers, feel free to experiment with adding them to your curry!
What is in chicken karahi curry?
This chicken curry gets a lot of flavor from the addition of garlic, ginger, cumin, and other spices.
And then there are the chilies.
We add in a combination of fresh green chilies and dry red chilies and chili powder to give flavor and spiciness to this dish.
If you’re not a spice lover, you can always adjust the amount of green chilies if you prefer a milder heat.
(Check our our guide for choosing chilies that suit your heat preference if you need some help.)
Is Karahi curry hot?
Don’t be scared of the heat in this dish.
Chicken karahi masala (sauce) gets much of its flavor from garlic, ginger, and red chilies.
There are lots of warming spices in this dish, as well as chiles. But, it doesn’t have to be mouth-flaming hot. Choose your chili based on your heat preference.
And, keep in mind that as the dish simmers, the heat will mellow, leaving a wonderful flavor and just a bit of warming heat.
What to serve with chicken kahari
This curry is less saucy that other curries (like this Goan fish curry).
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or 1/4 tsp dry, ground ginger)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces*
- 3 tomatoes, diced (roughly 3 c)
- 2-4 green chilies, seeded and chopped (Serrano or Jalapeno)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a large, non-stick sauté pan with high sides or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 10-20 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the chicken pieces and cook for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides.
- Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the tomatoes, chilies, cumin, chili powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and turmeric. Mix well.
- Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is mostly absorbed, 20 min. If there is still too much liquid after cooking for 20 minutes, remove the lid and cook, uncovered until it thickens (5-10 min).
- Garnish with slices of fresh ginger, sliced chilies, and fresh cilantro.
- Serve with warm naan bread or rice.
To make this curry reflect the North Indian version, add 1 diced onion and one diced green pepper to the pan before adding the tomatoes. Sauté the veggies for 2-3 minutes before continuing with the recipe. With the added veggies, the recipe serves 3-4.
*Traditionally, this curry is made with bone-in pieces of chicken. We have opted for boneless chicken breast pieces to make the dish a bit easier. But, if you want to use bone-in chicken, go ahead. You may just need to adjust the cooking time up slightly to be sure the meat is cooked through.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 522
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Sarah is one of Curious Cuisiniere’s founding duo. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.