Easiest Dhaaba-style Karahi Chicken

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I must admit my Desi recipes on this blog are few and far between, but I only share the ones I really believe are a true palette pleaser. Chicken Karahi is a real Pakistani favorite, whether it’s ordered at a dhaaba, a fancy restaurant or whipped up at home. It’s honestly so easy and doesn’t take a lot of the complicated masalas and ingredients usually associated with Pakistani foods. It’s bone-in chicken cooked in a wok (essentially what a karahi is) on high heat as a karahi or wok is shaped to evenly distribute the heat. They are ideally shaped for high heat cooking. There are no onions, no garlic and no yoghurt, no garam masalas (don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!) – all pretty much staples of South Asian curries. You’ll be surprised at how simple it is to make. Just arm your self with a bunch of tomatoes, fresh ginger, cilantro and green chillies and a few other ingredients to season, and you’re gold! The result is a mela in your mouth and yes I mean a Desi carnival. It’s bold umami flavors can be best described as slightly acidic, savory chicken, with a hint of relief and freshness from the ginger and cilantro.

I’ve found it to be really quick to whip up, especially if you feel uninspired and are looking for lunch or dinner ideas or have some last minute guests. It’s equally delicious with chapati or rice. Like seriously, daal, chaawal and karahi chicken is a beautiful combination! Anyway without much further blabbering, I think we should just jump right in to the recipe. Please do tell me if you try it and how it turned out.



  • Bone in full chicken, 2 lbs or about 1 kg, cut in to pieces
  • 2-3 green chillies, fresh, whole
  • 2 Tbsp pure Desi ghee
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (just to make it a little bougie)
  • 2” piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes , medium sized, sliced in long wedges
  • Large handful of cilantro leaves and stems, chopped (keep the stems and leaves in separate piles)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri lal mirch, or degi mirch or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp Ajwain or oregano seed powder (if you don’t have it you can use dried thyme as the smell is closer than that of dried oregano leaves)
  • 1/2 cup water


1. Keep aside half the ginger and cilantro leaves for garnish

2. Take your karahi or wok and put it on high heat. Add the ghee and olive oil and after it has heated up add the whole green chillies. While those are crackling and popping in the hot oil, add in your chicken and stir around especially if the wok is non-stick.

3. Thrown in the ginger followed by the chopped stems of cilantro. The stems of cilantro have the most flavor and aroma, we really need to use this part in our cooking more!

4. Keep stirring, until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink. The heat should remain high.

5. Add in the tomatoes and stir well.

5. Add the cayenne pepper or Kashmiri Lal Mirch, the salt and the ajwain or oregano seed powder. Cook until the tomatoes blister and soften and release their juices. Scrape the sides of the karahi to make sure nothing is sticking.

6. Now add the water, and after giving it a good stir let the chicken and flavorings cook well. You want some of that liquid to evaporate

7. Once the base sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have disintegrated into it, scrape the bottom again and check your seasonings to see if you need more heat with more pepper or more salt. This is a good opportunity to check if your chicken is fully cooked (Hint: it should NOT be pink inside)

8. Top it off with more ginger and half of the remaining cilantro, turn the heat down and cover the wok with a lid for about 5-7 minutes.

9. Take off heat, garnish with the remaining cilantro leaves. Serve hot. (Optional add a squeeze of lime for an extra zing)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mango Mum says:

    THANK you. For saying the no Garam Masala, Yogurt et al. I go blue in the face telling people this. Finally! Someone gets that Karahi is not your usual brown, sludgy saalan. It’s fresh. It’s beautiful, it’s a Karahi!

  2. zooberry says:

    Yesss please… It’s so upsetting to see people try to pass that off as Karahi

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