If someone were to ask me what my favorite Desi food is, my answer would undeniably be that it is Karahi Chicken. A karahi is a traditional South Asian cooking vessel similar to a wok. Karahi Chicken is a chicken and tomato based curry cooked in a karahi on high heat.
A traditional karahi chicken is stir fried in ample amounts of tomato, ginger, chilies, and cilantro (no bell peppers here!). It notably doesn’t contain onions, and is drier than its counterparts when it comes to gravy/sauce. It’s meant to be enjoyed with warm naan or roti (unleavened flatbread), and is one of those dishes that has you craving more.
The recipe I’m sharing today comes from tweaks that I’ve made from a very traditional one from my husband’s side of the family. I mentioned earlier that authentic karahi is cooked without onions, and that is the only rule that I’ve strayed from in my recipe BUT for good reason- the sauce in Karahi is sooooo delicious! We’re always digging around for more, so I decided to finally solve this age-old problem by creating a saucier Karahi Chicken. The gravy is thick and bursting with the flavors of karahi that we’ve come to love (sweetness and a bit of tang from the tomatoes, heat from the various forms of chilies, and savory). Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Saucier Karahi Chicken
- 2½ – 3 pounds skinless bone-in chicken, cut into desired sizes
- ¾ cup neutral flavored oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced thin
- 8 medium tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, coarsely ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, coarsely ground
- 1- inch piece ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 1 green chili, sliced (serrano or jalapeño)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1½ teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, red chili powder, and turmeric and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the tomatoes start to lose their shape and the oil begins to separate, about 15 to 20 minutes (optional- you can pick out and discard the tomato skins with tongs once the tomatoes have broken down). Stir periodically to prevent the mixture from burning.
Add chicken, ginger garlic paste, red pepper flakes, and salt. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and mix in coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, green chili, and cilantro. Cover and simmer the karahi chicken for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle in dried fenugreek and black pepper. Cover and allow the flavors to infuse for 10 minutes before serving.