Chicken Karahi/Kadhai

What is chicken karahi

Chicken Karahi, or kadai chicken, is a dish that originates from the northern and northwestern parts of South Asia. The dish is prepared in a karahi, a type of wok often used in South Asian cooking. It can take between 30 and 50 minutes to prepare and cook the dish. It is usually served with naan, roti or rice.

Why the name Karahi/kadhai

Karahi is named after the pan in which it was originally cooked – a heavy, often cast-iron pan that’s similar to a wok, but rounder with a flatter base. Traditionally, meat would be simmered and stir-fried in this karahi in an open fire.

Chicken karahi’s distinguishing features are its rich, tomatoey base and a fragrant finishing of green chili peppers, coriander, and  ginger juliennes.

Does chicken karahi include onion?

Traditionally, chicken karahi doesn’t include onions as an ingredient. The base of the dish is tomato only. But you can see many recipes of chicken karahi using onion in the gravy.I thing people use onion to increase the quantity of gravy as original recipe gives very little gravy. I didn’t use onion in my dish to make them authentic.

Soaking chicken in vinegar water

In this recipe chicken is soaked in vinegar water for sometime. This helps to make chicken pieces tender and juicy after cooking. As generally karahi dish is made quickly in high heat soaking meat in vinegar water really helps to shorten cooking process.

What are the main ingredients of Chicken karahi

Chicken with bones is the best for this recipe. Boneless chicken will not give that much flavour .
Ripe and red tomatoes are the most essential ingredients to make perfect karahi recipe.
A special freshly grounded karahi spice is used to this special recipe which is very easy to make. It’s just a mixture of roasted coriander and cumin seeds. Without this spice the dish is incomplete. Freshly grounded black pepper is also used.
Traditionally, ghee/clarified butter is used to make karahi. But we can use any kind of cooking oil or both in half quantities can be used. Generally a lot of ghee or oil is used, but I used a moderate amount of oil, still it didn’t compromise the test.
Other important ingredients include fresh chopped green chillies, ginger julieenes and chopped  coriander leaves.

Chicken Karahi/Kadai recipe

  • Preparation time: 10 min
  • Resting time: 20-30 min
  • Cooking time: 40 min
  • Serves: 6


  • 1 kg Chicken cut in medium size pieces
  • 2 tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Salt+more as required
  • 600 g ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon of Coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of Cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red Chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable cooking oil/Ghee
  • 2-3 chopped(big pieces) fresh Green Chilli
  • 2 tablespoon Ginger julienne
  • 1 handful of chopped Coriander leaves or spring Onion


Clean  chicken pieces nicely. Take medium size chicken pieces with bones. Below is showing all the ingredients I used in the recipe.

Make a solution with 1 litre of water,1tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoon of white vinegar to a big mixing bowl.

Place the chicken pieces to this solution and soak for about 20-30 minutes.

In the meantime heat a small pan and dry roast coriander and cumun seeds.

Grind them coarsely in a mortar and pastel. Set aside.

Clean and rinse tomatoes and trim the top sides of the tomatoes.

After soaking time, strain the vinegar water solution from chicken pieces.

Heat oil to a big yok/kadai and add in the chicken pieces.

Stir and fry the chicken pieces in high heat until the pieces are light golden brown. Also add in ginger-garlic paste.

Next add in the trimmed tomatoes and stir well. Use medium or small size tomatoes. If tomatoes are too big, cut in halves.

Cover and cook in medium heat until tomatoes become soft. Stir in between and cover again.

With the help of a tongue, remove the skins of the tomatoes.

Stir and mash tomatoes with the help of spatula so that tomatoes become completely mashed.

You can see the tomatoes making thick gravy. Don’t use water. If you see that the dish is almost dry, you can use 1-2 tablespoon of water.

I also added 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to enhance the colour and taste of the gravy. You can skip this step. It’s totally optional to use tomato paste. Also add in salt and kashmiri red chilli powder.

Stir and continue to cook in medium high heat until chicken cooks completely.

Lastly add in crushed black pepper and coarsely grinded coriander-cumin seeds.Mix nicely.

Finish off the cooking process by add in chopped green chillies, ginger julienne and chopped coriander or spring onions.

Delicious and aromatic chicken kadai is ready now.

Serve immediately with roti/chapati or paratha/naan.

Recipe video

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