karahi chicken – indian restaurant style

Karahi chicken curry done restaurant style. All the great tastes of classic karahi chicken with that thick, rich gravy you only get in restaurants.

This is a Northern Indian street food classic adapted to restaurant style cooking. Like you would get in a restaurant. Not like you usually make at home.

I like chicken karahi done homestyle. It’s a relatively simple curry but it has great balance. And it’s a bit different. But when I make it restaurant style I like it better.

Restaurant karahi chicken on a plate with rice.

Karahi chicken is something new to try

There’s something about the luscious restaurant style sauce that works really well with the brightness of the fresh tomatoes. The cream adds a bit of richness. Upscales it.

Not the usual yoghurt you see in most recipes. That little bit of cream really makes the dish. Taste it before and after you add it. You’ll see how big it is…

Karahi chicken is little different than the usual suspects. But you can’t live on jalfrezi and tikka masala forever. At least I can’t.

There are about a million regional dishes in India. OK. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.  I have a book I bought in India that has around 1600. In one book. One book!

But you only see the same 30 things on every Indian restaurant menu. Over and over. Why?

It’s boring. A bit dull. They are some of the greats, mind you. A good rogan josh or madras is a wonderful thing. But come on. Mix it up. Try something new. A billion people can’t be wrong.

Chicken karahi is something new. I like new. I’ve seen it at a couple of restaurants. But not many. Pretty rare. Don’t think I’ve ever seen in my home town.

Restaurant karahi chicken curry in a bowl from above.

Restaurant style but familiar

But it has the homestyle tastes. The classic mom in the kitchen cooking up a storm tastes. Nothing unusual here. Just simple ingredients put together in a way that works.

And the nice thing about karahi chicken is it doesn’t call for a bunch of ingredients you’ve never heard of. The spices are straightforward. You can get almost everything from your local grocery store.

The fenugreek leaves are the only oddball ingredient. You might have to hit an Indian grocer to get them. But they add a certain something. So make the effort to get some if you can.

If you are new to Indian restaurant cooking the big classic dishes will be all you will want to cook. That’s natural.

But if you’ve been at it for a while. If you are looking to mix it up. And if you like homestyle Indian as well as restaurant curries. Then karahi chicken is a great one to try.

Restaurant karahi chicken curry served with rice.

Restaurant karahi chicken in an Indian styles serving dish.
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4.85 from 20 votes

karahi chicken curry

Get those great karahi chicken curry flavours with the rich, lush sauce you only get in restaurants.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword indian chicken curry, karahi chicken curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 500kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


The spice mix

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper - coarsely ground
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

The chicken

  • 12 oz boneless skinless chicken - 3 thighs or 1 large breast
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • chicken stock to cover

Karahi chicken

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp onion - finely diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste - plus enough water to get to the consistency of passata
  • 4 tbsp fresh tomato diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
  • 1-2 green chili sliced
  • 15 oz curry base - recipe link below
  • 1/6 lemon - juiced
  • all of the spice mix
  • the pre-cooked chicken
  • 1 tbsp cilantro leaves - finely diced
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream


The spice mix

  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients. Set aside.

Pre-cook the chicken

  • Add the chicken, curry powder and salt to a small pot. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook until the chicken is just done. This takes about 10-12 minutes. 
  • Drain the chicken and set aside. 

Chicken Karahi

  • Be ready. Have your curry base simmering on the stove. Make your spice mix. Chop all the ingredients and have them at the ready. This is going to go very fast. You don't have time to mess around.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil.
  • When the oil starts to shimmer add the onion and green chilies. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions just start to brown on the edges. This takes 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops sputtering, about 1 minute.
  • Lower the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30-45 seconds. You want to bloom the spices in the oil. You don't want to burn it. If you burn the spices, start again. There's no fixing it.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 3 oz of the curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it it starts to crater. Little holes will appear. See the guide to Indian curries to understand what this means if you aren't sure.
  • Add another 6 oz of curry base. Stir to combine and cook until it craters.
  • Now add the remaining curry base. Cook until it craters and reduce the heat to low. Add the chicken stir to mix. Simmer for about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the fresh chopped tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes or so. If the curry gets too dry add a bit more curry base.
  • Add the cream. Stir to combine. Serve. Enjoy!


The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.
The recipe for curry base is here.
If you haven't read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.


Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 1210mg | Potassium: 993mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 840IU | Vitamin C: 16.1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2.2mg

36 thoughts on “karahi chicken – indian restaurant style”

  1. Romain,
    This is just fantastic. I’ve been cooking homestyle curries with pretty good success for a few years now. Good stuff, but always missing the thick luxurious sauce you find in a good restaurant. Well, I made the base yesterday and cooked up a Karahi chicken this afternoon. Mind blown. You have nailed the technique. This was what I was after. Can’t thank you enough for sharing this. It’s the real deal.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this last night. Brilliant! I made half of the quantity of curry base and there was sufficent for four portions of the karahi chicken and enough for three times more curry base to go in the freezer – 16 portions in all.

    The receipe was delicious and definitely restaurant quality. The only problem is – my wife now wants to eat nothing but your food!

    I ‘m so happy that I found your recipes. I have several Indian recipe books but none come close to these. Thank you.

    • Absolutely delighted to hear that. Thank you. Tell your wife I may have written the recipes but you are the one in the kitchen making it. That’s the hard work here and the credit is yours!

  3. Made this for first tike, my partner really like it and finished all dish. Thank you!! I will check and try to cook your other dishes

  4. 5 stars
    I made the curry base & ginger/garlic paste, the past weekend & sauteed up the chicken, as well. I followed through, with the recipe, this evening. And, WOW, this curry is the best, I have ever had

    • It’s a bit of a leap of faith – prepping all this stuff. But it’s so worth it. Super glad to hear it was a big success!

  5. 5 stars
    I cooked this yesterday to the letter of Romain’s recipe and instructions, OMG! Just stunning!
    Thanks Romain,

    • Glad you liked it. I like a bit of cream in this dish to smooth the flavours out. If you don’t then by all means just leave it out.

  6. 5 stars
    I used to work as a kitchen helper in an Indian Restaurant before I moved to cooking professionally in my own right. I had a pretty good idea of the technique from the old days anyway, but this helped me nail it. Made a few modifications, like a bit more cardamom and a bit less turmeric, plus I’m using a little yoghurt at the end but not too much. Also I’m cooking the chicken with chunks of onion and paprika, like my old restaurant used to do. Either way, this is an awesome recipe to base it from. Look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  7. 5 stars
    The best karahi i’ve had outside of a restaurant. The depth of flavour was something i’ve been trying to achieve for years. Excellent recipe with very detailed instructions. I can not wait to try the next one. Thank you.

    • So glad you liked it. Now you have the Indian restaurant techniques down there will be no stopping you!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this karahi chicken along with a vegetable curry, beef madras and tarka dhal for my birthday to share with around 20 friends. This dish was very well received and some have asked for the recipe so I will post it on my Facebook page. Quite lengthy recipe but I made the curry base and ginger garlic paste in advance so not too bad on the day but you have to be ready with everything to go! Delicious! Well worth the time spent.

  9. This is a tasty recipe, although it turned out a bit salty. I think that’s the fault of my using a stock cube. Will not add salt next time.

    • Glad you liked it. I’m not surprised you found it salty if you used all the salt specified plus a stock cube (which is mostly salt as well). Also, the recipe calls for kosher salt. That is not the same as regular table salt (less weight by volume).

  10. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed cooking a couple of your recipes. However, when I tried to double up the ingredients for 4 people the process of cooking changed (should I double the oil. The base takes a lot longer to cook…)
    What do you recommend if I need to cook for more people?

    • Glad you liked them!

      Unfortunately the restaurant style recipes do not double well. The best thing to do is to make the recipe twice. The first batch will hold in a saucepan over low heat while you make the second one. And the third. And so on.

    • Brilliant, thanks for the help with figuring that out! Aiming for a turkey curry on boxing day (for 4). Cooking up the base tomorrow, to fill the freezer up in preparation!

  11. 5 stars
    I made this a few days ago for a friend, he said it was the BEST curry he’d ever had! I’m of Pakistani origin and even I had to agree that the taste was amazing. I’ll be trying out your other recipes too.

  12. First time home based restaurant curry cooker here. Tried the lamb saag on Monday – I think I added too much salt to the restaurant spice mix because, while it was still yummy, it was very salty. Did the karahi chicken tonight with the left over base – wow!! It was blimmin amazing!!! Followed your recipe – except used canned chopped tomatoes and used coconut cream instead of cream – could not fault it. Sooo good. Will never make a curry without your curry base and recipes ever again. Total winners, with all the family. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  13. 5 stars
    Cooked this for the first time. Added red peppers and used yogurt instead of the cream .Served with chick pea curry and nan bread . Fantastic 10/10

    • Maybe not quite endless but I am trying to get the word out that India has tremendous breadth of regional recipes. It’s so more than the same 15 dishes every Indian restaurant seems to serve…

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