Chicken Karahi

My mum has had a phobia of chicken since she was a little girl. I really don’t know why. Perhaps she was attacked by one in her childhood. She won’t touch poultry with her bare hands and doesn’t like eggs runny and when dad married her, it was on the condition of ‘It’s me or the chicken’. He chose wisely.

Despite mum’s funny feelings about chicken, she has overcome one significant hurdle and that is she is able to cook some mouthwatering poulet dishes (so long as someone else preps the meat first – usually the butcher). One recipe I’ve been a guinea pig for is her take on Chicken Karahi and she’s gladly shared the recipe with me so I’m giving it to you to try.

Chicken Karahi is a spicy Pakistani and North Indian dish that can be prepared in one utensil, the ‘karahi’ which is like a wok. You can adapt this recipe to other types of meat but it works really well with chicken as it cooks so quickly. Note: this is a coriander-free dish!

For this, you will need…


a few table spoons oil (with extra to add)
about 500g chicken (drumsticks, mixed or breast pieces) scored
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground red chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon dried, crushed chillies
1 teaspoon of crushed, roasted cumin seeds
2-3 tomatoes chopped
2 chunky green chillies scored
2 tablespoons yoghurt


  1. On a high heat, get the oil sizzling hot in a wok or a deep saucepan. I used olive oil but you can use any other kind. You need a decent amount which I estimated as a few tablespoons.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and stir quickly until golden brown.
  3. Add the chicken and stir until the meat starts to cook.
  4. Before the meat is cooked thoroughly, add the salt, red chilli powder, tumeric, dried crushed chillies and stir quickly till the chicken is coated in the spices for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Then add the chopped tomatoes and whole chillies. The water from the tomatoes will help loosen the spices and create the gravy sauce. The heat should still be on full whack and you should be constantly stirring. If the mixture looks dry, add a splash of water.
  6. Allow the oil to rise to the top and bubble away, then mix in the yoghurt for a tangy taste.
  7. Bring to the boil and let the mixture simmer and for the flavours to infuse about 10 minutes. The longer you leave it, the thicker the sauce will become. The crucial part of this dish is the stirring and the simmering.
  8. Serve with boiled rice or chapattis/naan bread. Bon appetite!

For coriander fiends, you can garnish the Chicken Karahi with a few coriander leaves otherwise enjoy as it is. It honestly takes about 15 minutes to make and if you like your Indian food mild then go halves on the red chillies and leave out the fresh ones.

A tip about the cumin is to roast in a frying pan, then wrap in paper and run a rolling pin over to crush them or use a pestle and mortar. You can do this ahead and store it in an air-tight jar for future use and it’s the flavour of the dried roasted cumin that gives this recipe a kick. There you go – no onions, no butter, no food colouring and not an ounce of ponciness like Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute recipes! Next time I am going to try this with veal and I’ll let you know how I get on!