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Pakistani Chicken Karahi Recipe | Step by step with photos

Step by step recipe of Pakistani chicken Karahi

Here’s a quick and yummy recipe of Pakistani chicken karahi. The kind of karahi you get on dhabba (street restaurants) of Karachi when you travel to Pakistan.

I fried the chicken first just like they do it on Dhabas in Karachi. Why? we all know chicken has a short cooking time compared to mutton. So if you cook chicken in tomato puree it gets either over-cooked and chicken pieces come falling off the bone. Or sometimes tomatoes have a raw taste if cooked on high flame. Both condition will spoil the taste and delicacy of Karahi. So frying chicken and then adding to tomato puree later helps overcome over-cooking of chicken. And using tomato puree or tinned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes are also helpful because tomatoes release lycopene upon slow cooking. So if you don’t give fresh tomato enough time to cook. It gives a raw taste.

Karahi means a wok. This dish is cooked in Karahi. My other Pakistani recipes are

Chicken Korma

Chicken korma recipe Pakistani desi style

White Chicken korma

How to make Pakistani chicken Karahi

Pakistani Chicken Karahi Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins

A bright and tempting chicken cooked in tomato gravy, served with shredded ginger and chilies.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Pakistani
For Chicken
  • ½ kg chicken , cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste.
Whole Spices to roast
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed (sabut dhanya)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (sabut zeera)
  • 5 red button chillies ( gol lal mirch)
  • inch piece kashmiri red chilli
  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri meethi)
More spices
  • ½ tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon all spice powder (garam masala)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli
  • ½ tablespoon green chilli paste
  • 1 small (100 gram) onion , very finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • piece ginger , thickly grated
  • 2 medium chillies
  • 1 lemon sliced in wedges
  1. Dry roast whole spices (coriander, cumin, red button chilli, kashmiri chilli, dry fenugreek leaves) and grind into a fine powder. Set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a wok, add chicken, salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes until color changes. Then remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. In same oil fry grounded spices and other spices ( chopped garlic, all spices powder, black pepper powder, red chilli powder and turmeric) for 30 seconds and then add green chilli paste, fry for another 30 seconds.
  4. Throw in onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

  5. Now pour in tomato puree and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until oil separates.

  6. Add chicken to the gravy and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes until chicken is tender. (Add ¼ cup water, if required).
  7. Add 1 tablespoon butter (if using) and ginger. Remove seeds of chilies and cut each into 3-4 length-wise slices. Add to the Chicken Karahi and serve with tandoori nan or chappati and lemon wedges.

Step by step recipe of Pakistani Chicken Karahi

Dry roast spices for 1 minute on medium flame with constant stirring. Remove from pan, cool and grind into a fine powder.

In a wok fry chicken in oil with salt and pepper for 5 minutes until color changes.

Color has changed and few golden marks are visible. Remove the chicken with a slotted spon leaving oil in the pan.

Add grounded spices and other spices in pan, that is chopped garlic, all spice powder, black pepper and turmeric. Fry for 30 seconds.

Add green chili paste  and red chilli powder. Fry for another 30 seconds.

Add finely chopped onions and fry for 3 minutes until onion are translucent,

Add tomato puree and cook for 3-5 minutes  until oil separates and color of puree darkens.

That’s what we want.

Add fried chicken with juices in the wok again.

Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on low flame until chicken is tender. You can add ¼ cup water only if required.

Add a dollop of butter (if using) for a makhni flavor.

Pakistani Chicken Karahi recipe

Garnish with ginger, and chili. ( Seeds of chili removed and cut length-wise)


  1. Jodi

    Wonderful post! I love the pictures!! I’m wondering however, how this would be with a different protein? I don’t really like chicken, but would it be good with beef, pork, or even seafood?

    • Recipe 52

      Yeah, Karahi is actually made with mutton or lamb. Beef and shrimps are also a good option.

  2. Great post!
    Dear, it’s very beautiful to see. I like your explanation. Thank u

  3. Recipe 52

    Thanks for the feedback. Keep coming! 😊


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