Karahi Chicken

Karahi chicken is a highly aromatic stew (curry) that brings together tomatoes, chilies, and a nice cilantro ‘kick’.  It gets it’s name because, well, it’s cooked in a karahi (or kadai), which is a thick-walled stew pot common throughout the region. I’m using chicken, but the Pakistanis have beef variants as well.

It’s one of those ‘family’ recipes, meaning every family has their own take.  But, they’re all pretty similar except for some regional variations. Pakistani versions are pretty straight-forward. Northern Indian folks add an onion and a green pepper and a lot more heat. Further into India you start seeing garam masala and other more traditional Indian spices thrown into the mix.

Here, I’ve done the Pakistani style, and sort of a mild-side-of-medium heat. This can be adjusted simply by what sort of chilies are used.

Karahi Chicken and naan

Shopping List:

  • 1lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 2-3 pounds large tomatoes
  • 2 Anaheim chilies or to preferred heat
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves or 2-3 tbsp jar stuff
  • ginger
  • cumin
  • red chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • ground black pepper
  • salt

Karahi PotSo, a karahi, as I mentioned, is a high-sided, thick-walled stew pot that’s really good for stews and the like.  This is my analogue that I’ll be replacing with a cast-iron piece soon.


If you don’t have a karahi, substitute a high-sided skillet, preferably cast iron.

This recipe comes all together pretty much all at once, so do all the cutting/chopping in advance.

First, cut up the chicken thighs into approximately 1/2″ chunks, and set aside.

Next, get all the other stuff ready. Dice up the tomatoes into about the same – 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes. Put in a bowl, seeds included. De-seed the chilies and slice into pieces  around 1/4″ and add them to the bowl. Add in the spices:

  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • pinch (1/2 tsp or so) red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch of the cilantro, chopped finely
  • pinch of salt

To begin cooking, turn the stove up to medium/medium high, and saute the garlic and 1-1/2 tsp ginger for a few seconds, and then add the chicken.  Saute the chicken until it’s just cooked through (no pink).

Add in the other stuff, and mix everything together.  Turn down the heat and simmer the lot for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly.

It’ll be done when the liquid has reached a stew-like consistency ~ that is, not watery, but doesn’t have to be thick either.

Serve in bowls with a few cilantro leaves on top for garnish, along with naan.