Updated: Mar 8
Learn how to make this delicious chicken curry from Northern India and Pakistan!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Dairy free option available
Another great and easy to make curry to delight everyone at the dinner table! It's bold, delicious, spicy, and satisfying! And unlike my other curries, this one is made with ghee and yogurt instead of cream, which gives it a deep flavor profile.
If you are into curries, this is one to add to your repertoire. This is one that can be easily be made with mutton or goat as well and serve with papadam, gluten free roti, gluten free naan, or rice.
If you are dairy free, this recipe can be adapted to your lifestyle by using vegetable oil and coconut cream!
What is Chicken Karahi?
Chicken karahi (known as gosht karahi when prepared with goat or lamb meat instead of chicken), or kadai chicken, is a dish from the Indian subcontinent noted for its spicy taste; it is notable in North Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
The ingredients vary depending on the regiion, but generally include the meat of choice, onions, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, red pepper, green chilies, cilantro leaves, ginger and garlic. The Pakistani version of chicken karahi does not have onions whereas the North Indian version uses capsicum.
The dish is prepared in a karahi (similar to a wok). It can take between 30 and 50 minutes to prepare and cook the dish and can be stored for later consumption. It can be served with naan, roti or rice. This dish is one of the hallmarks of Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
What is a Karahi?
What is the flavor profile?
Spicy, bold, savory, and creamy.
What ingredients will I need to make this dish?
A whole chicken cut into small pieces, garlic past, ginger paste, a large red onion, ghee, vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, Thai peppers, coriander, cumin, a large green bell pepper, kosher salt, garam masala, yogurt, cayenne pepper, fresh cilantro, and limes.
What else will I need to make this?
Can I make substitutions?
Yes.... you can use vegetable oil instead of ghee and coconut cream instead of yogurt.
Traditionally, lamb or goat can be used to make Karahi as well, so feel free to use either one!
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India. It is commonly used in cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, Middle Eastern cuisine, Southeast Asian cuisine, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.
Ghee is typically prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream (traditionally made by churning the top most layer of dahi which is also called Bilona method), skimming any impurities from the surface, then pouring and retaining the clear liquid fat while discarding the solid residue that has settled to the bottom. Spices can be added for flavor. The texture, color and taste of ghee depend on the quality of the butter, the milk source used in the process and the duration of time spent boiling.
What is Garam Masala
A typical Indian version of garam masala contains (with Hindi names in parenthesis):
Bay leaves (tej patta)
Black and white peppercorns (kali/safed mirch)
Cinnamon or cassia bark (darchini)
Mace (outer covering of nutmeg) (javitri)
Black and green cardamom pods (elaichi)
Red chili powder (laal mirch)
4 tablespoons of ghee
1 large red onion, chopped finely
3 lbs of bone-in skinless chicken, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons of garlic paste or 8 cloves of garlic, peele and crushed
2 tablespoons of ginger paste or crushed ginger
2 Thai peppers or chile de árbol, sliced
28 or 30 ounces of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of garam masala
1 tablespoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and julienned
1/2 cup of plain yogurt, whipped
Sea salt to taste
fresh ginger, julienned
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
3 limes, 1 sliced and 2 quartered into wedges
In a large bowl combine the chicken, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala, 1/2 tablespoon of coriander powder, 1/2 tablespoon of cumin powder, 1 tablespoon of ginger paste, 1 tablespoon of garlic paste, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Use your hands to ensure the chicken is evenly coated with the spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. The longer it marinates the better.
Melt the ghee at medium high heat in a Karahi or a large non-stick pot or cast iron pot. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add 1 tablespoon each of ginger and garlic paste. Stirring frequently, cook until fragrant.
Add the chicken and cook until golden brown. It is important to stir frequently.
Add the crush tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of coriander, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir well, reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 35 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes.
Once the time has elapsed, uncover, add the Thai peppers or chile de árbol and about 1/2 of the fresh cilantro. Taste for seasonings and adjust to you liking if necessary.
Bring the heat up to medium high.
Whip the yogurt and slowly mix it in the pot with the rest. Cook until the ghee separates from the rest of the sauce. That's your indication that is ready.
Remove from heat, place on a serving dish, top with fresh cilantro, julienned ginger, and lime slices. Place lime wedges on the side.
Printable recipe (pdf) below: