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Chicken Karahi – Is this delicacy one of the best dishes in Pakistan? [with Recipe]

Pakistani Food is not that well known Worldwide but i can assure you is absolutely great and worth it to try. If you enjoy cooking then you probably will appreciate Chicken Karahi as trendy food to prepare.. the fact that there are so many ways of preparing chicken, all of them bringing out delicious results.

You also probably appreciate that it can be presented in a variety of ways, keep in mind that the way you present your food goes a long way in making people want to eat it more. That said, have you ever heard of Pakistani chicken karahi?

Well, today, that is what i’m talking about and well this amazing dish will have you wanting more and more. I give you its history and talk so much more about it including a special recipe.



Pakistani Chicken Karahi (Origin and Curiosities)

Pakistani chicken karahi as the name suggests has its origin in Pakistan. However, in order to fully understand this dish, we have to break its name down.

First it was given the name karahi because of the pan that it was originally prepared in. This pan is heavy and really resembles a wok although it is a bit rounder and has a flatter base. In the past, people used this pan for simmering meat or would stir fry it in an open fire. This pan gives more than enough surface area for cooking the dish in high heat.

Karahi is believed to have originated specifically from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is formerly the northern frontier of Pakistan. Chicken karahi is unique and the distinguishing features are its tomato like base and its fragrance as well as the finishing cilantro, green chili peppers, and slivers of ginger.

Karahi being from the Indian subcontinent is spicy and the ingredients used in preparing it includes chicken, onions, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, red pepper, garlic, cilantro and ginger. This is for general karahi preparation but for the Pakistani variation, no onions are used. Preparing this dish is said to be easy and fast, taking just about 30 to 50 minutes.




Karahi in Pakistan and India (Main Differences)

As you can imagine when a new dish comes up, various people will sample it. When they find it tasty, they will want to spread the word about it to many other places and share it with friends. This is the same with chicken karahi.  Today, there are different variations of it and it depends on where it is being cooked and the family that’s preparing the dish for you.

When you eat the Indian Karahi and the Pakistani karahi, you will notice some differences. The most notable one that exists between Pakistani chicken karahi and Indian chicken karahi is in how the dish is made.

In North India, this dish is made to include green pepper and onion. However, in Pakistan, they do not include these in the preparation.




Karahi Curry Varieties

As has already been mentioned, the traditional karahi from Pakistan has gone through several changes overtime. People have changed it up for many various reasons. For example, to cut costs, many restaurants that prepare this meal have included onions in the list of ingredients used to prepare it.

In fact, so many people today are not even aware that the original recipe did not include onions. There are also different variations that include capsicum and large chunks of red onions. Others use things that make for modern day conveniences. Examples include canned tomatoes and also pre-packaged ginger jars. In some areas, garlic is common too in karahi curry.

That said, the most popular variations are Pakistani karahi curry and also the Indian karahi curry.




Chicken Karahi Recipe

We did mention that making chicken karahi is not such a long or difficult process. Here’s a recipe to follow in case you are interested in trying out this very popular Asian dish:



  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (alternatively you can use sub more ghee)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 8 garlic cloves (preferably crushed)
  • ¾ inch ginger (crushed)
  • 1-2 Serrano/ Thai green chili peppers (whole)
  • 2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken
  • 8 small tomatoes (diced)
  • ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt (whisked)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns (freshly ground)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 2-3 green chili peppers (slit into half)
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh ginger(julienned)
  • 1tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2tsp kosher salt (divided)



  1. Grab a large pan, preferably a heavy-bottomed one and place over high heat. In it, add some ghee and oil. Once hot enough, put inside the pan some onions and then allow them to sauté for about 5 to 6 minutes or until they turn slightly golden. Add in some ginger, garlic and some whole green chili pepper then sauté this for about a minute.
  2. Next, add in the chicken then ½ tsp of salt. Sauté this for about 5 minutes. Ensure the chicken color changes and that it’s no longer releasing any water. Add in the tomatoes, cumin, coriander, red chili pepper and the amount of salt you have left. Sauté this mixture for another one minute.
  3. Lower the heat and ensure it gets to medium then cover the mixture. Allow this chicken to cook for about 20 minutes ensuring that you stir it at least once in between.
  4. After this, you can raise the heat back to high. Allow the mixture to sauté some more for about 10 minutes so that the chicken is completely cooked and that the excess liquid is reduced. The chicken will start to have a glossy appearance when the ghee or oil used begins to separate.
  5. Once again, lower the heat to medium then in the mixture, add the whisked yogurt. Gently sauté it for between 2 and 3 minutes. At this point, you can taste it just to ensure that there’s enough salt then add in the freshly ground black peppercorns. Also, add in the garam masala and stir in properly so that they combine accordingly. Top this with some green chili peppers, cilantro and the julienned ginger.
  6. Serve your chicken karahi hot alongside some naan, rice or roti


As you can see, this is a very easy recipe to follow and you don’t need to go to all the way to either Pakistan or India. All you need to do is grab the necessary ingredients from your nearest grocery shop or supermarket and you’ll be good to go. However, you can follow the tips below to make your chicken karahi even better:

  • Use fresh tomatoes preferably those that are still firm. You know, the ones that make that great sound when you start slicing them.
  • Whether or not you’re a big fan of tomatoes, make sure you use the correct ratio of chicken to tomatoes. The weight of the chicken should guide you.
  • Avoid cooking the chicken karahi with the lid on.
  • You should also keep in mind that you do not need to add in any water while preparing the chicken karahi. Avoid adding in any even if you feel tempted to. Both the chicken and tomatoes will produce a lot of their own liquid that will enable the dish to cook well as required.
  • It’s always better to go for the short and fat, more bulleted chili instead of picking the slimmer and longer variation. The reason is that these chilies are more for their great smell and not their heat so it’s best to pick the milder variation.
  • Since no onions are used in the curry preparation, karahi goes so well when served with a salad that is made with raw onions.
  • It’s important to finely chop the tomatoes because this allows them to break down faster. It also ensures you do not have large chunks of tomato skin on your curry.
  • Although there is the option of using oil, ghee is the best option as it gives your food a rustic flavor which goes very well with everything else that has been included in the preparation of the karahi.
  • Although this dish does not exactly involve the use of water, should you choose a smaller pan you will notice that you end up with too much liquid in the cooking process. If this is the case, take out some of the liquid into a smaller pan and cook it down before returning it to the chicken. This way, the chicken will not get too tender.
  • If you’re not a big fan of julienned ginger in your karahi curry, you can add some crushed ginger instead but do it in the beginning.


So, if you are a big chicken lover, go ahead and make this dish at home. You will most certainly enjoy it along with some of your friends and even family members. There’s a reason why it is so popular in Pakistan don’t you think? It’s simply delicious.



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