A variation of Karahi Chicken Curry

There are many variations of Karahi Chicken Curry. Karahi simply refers to a shallow pot that is used to make this dish. Other names include kadai, kadhi and korai. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious! The best part is that it is not very intensive in terms of preparation or cooking time. This version is dryer than most curries as it does not have yoghurt or tomatoes as the base but don’t let that put you off! It is still delicious.

Basic Ingredients

For this dish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 g chicken (raw or already cooked)
  • 2 peppers (any colour)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • (optional) 2 red chillies
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 large lemon

Spices for marinade

There are two versions that I have created. This is the basic version:

  • tumeric
  • cumin (preferably toasted)
  • mustard seeds (preferably toasted)
  • coriander/cilantro (finely chopped)

The more involved version has the same ingredients as well as:

  • chilli (preferably one native to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh)
  • fenugreek leaf
  • fenugreek
  • nigella
  • black cardamon
  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • mace
  • bay
  • nutmeg

I won’t tell you exactly what amounts you need for each because I think it depends on what you like in terms of spices and flavours. Generally I would recommend equal amounts of each (1 tsp of each is enough to cover the chicken); I personally am not the biggest fan of cinnamon, so I often reduce or remove it from recipes.

Karahi Chicken Curry Chicken marinating
Shredded chicken marinating in the more intensive marinade

Preparation (10 – 20 minutes) and cooking (20 – 30 minuntes) Karahi Chicken Curry

Preparation time will naturally vary depending on what you are making at the same time or whether you are cooking and preparing at the same time. I will combine the preparation and cooking steps. Make sure to read the next step when heating something to see if you can prepare the next step.

  1. Mix the spices together for the marinade. Put them in a mixing bowl.
  2. Dice or shred the chicken, depending on your preference and whether the chicken is already cooked. Place the chicken into the mixing bowl and cover with the marinade. You can add a bit of water to make it more of a liquid but I think it is easier to do without.
  3. Set the marinading chicken aside.

And now the cooking starts

  1. Thinly slice the peppers. Put in a shallow but large pot or pan. I often use a wok for this type of dish.
  2. Slice the onions thinly and add them to the pot/pan/wok.
  3. If you are using red chillies, slice them thinly. Add it to the pot/pan/wok. You can add as many of the seeds as you want. The more seeds, the spicier the dish will be.
  4. Add a light sprinkling of salt (e.g. 1/2 tsp) along with 3 tbsp of oil. Bring the wok/pan/pot to a low-medium heat.
  5. Cook the mixture with a cover until they are soft and sweet. Typically this takes about 12-15 minutes. You can stir ocassionally but it should be fine without.
  6. Add the chicken and the marinade to the pot/pan/wok. Increase the heat to a high heat and stir-fry the chicken.
    1. If the chicken was already cooked before marinading, only cook at this level for a couple of minutes so that the marinade also transfers to the onion/pepper/red chilli mixture.
    2. If the chicken was not already cooked, stir-fry until the chicken is cooked (typically 10 minutes).
  7. Cut the tomatoes into wedges. Add to the pot/pan/wok and cook for 5 minutes. The tomatoes should become somewhat soft by this time.
Karahi Chicken Curry
This is the nearly finished product. I wanted it to be somewhat more “wet” so I added a small amount of wine. See “Alternatives and other tips” below. It is ready to serve with basmati rice.

At this point, you are all done! Simply serve with (basmati) rice and you have a great, nutritious meal.

Alternatives and other tips for this Karahi Chicken Curry

Vegetarian: If you would prefer to have a vegetarian version of this dish, you could also use cauliflower or broccoli instead of chicken. Treat it like the chicken: marinate it and cook until soft when you add it (step 9).

Saving a dry curry: Around step 10, if you find that the curry is becoming dry, add a splash of water and stir. Continue to heat until the water has been soaked in and is no longer visible. As an alternative to water, I often add a splash of whatever wine I have in the house. Last time I used a tiny amount of pinot noir. It changes the flavour very slightly depending on the wine used.

Make sure not to use too much water or wine! Too much water can wash the marinade from the dish; too much wine can change the flavour completely.

Serving: When you serve the Karahi Chicken Curry, you can also sprinkle coriander over the top.

You could also serve it with other Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi dishes. Naan and chutney is always a good accompaniment if you are serving the Karahi Chicken Curry as the main dish.


And with that, you are finished! Ever felt like eating your way around the world? Join me!

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