Kadai Chicken Recipe | Chicken Karahi
Kadai chicken is a delicious, spicy & flavorful dish made with chicken, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic & fresh ground spices known as kadai masala. Kadai translates to an Indian wok which is a most basic kitchen essential in Indian homes. Any dish prepared in an Indian wok using a kadai masala would be named after it like kadai chicken, kadai paneer, kadai mushrooms & so on.
Kadai chicken is almost there on most Indian restaurant menus & is made differently in each place. The recipe shared here is roughly adapted from the popular chefs Vahchef and Nita mehta’s recipes.
This came very close to what I had eaten in some of the best restaurants and loved it.
The fresh ground kadai masala is the key to this yummy and much flavorful dish. There are also so many brands selling kadai masala powder.
If you do not have the whole spices to make the kadai masala then you may consider buying one from the Indian stores.
Coriander seeds, red chillies & fennel seeds are the 3 main ingredients used to make the spice powder. Apart from kadai masala a small amount of garam masala is also used to further flavor up the dish.
Since the garam masala I have used had a good amount of fennel seeds or saunf used, I skipped it while making kadai masala. Kadai chicken looks deep red in color due to the red chilies and deep roasting of the masala.
Tips to make kadai chicken
- Bone-in chicken tastes best in this recipe as the juices from the bones seep to the curry and make it more flavorful & delicious. However if you do not have bone-in chicken just use boneless chicken like the way I have used.
- Kadai chicken is made with fresh ground kadai masala. This recipe also details on making it. You can however use readymade kadai masala powder. If you are accessible then just use a regular garam masala. You really cannot get the flavors of kadai chicken but it will still be a very good dish.
- Most restaurants use cubed onions and bell peppers. However you can also skip them as it is not used in the authentic kadai recipes.
- Frying the cubed onions & bell peppers on the highest flame will give a smoky aroma to the kadai chicken. You can skip them and just smoke the dish with a charcoal.
- Optionally to smoke the kadai chicken, just light a charcoal until hot and place it in a small bowl. Keep this bowl in the kadai. Pour 1 tsp ghee. Immediately the charcoal begins to release smoke. Cover the kadai and allow the cooked chicken to be smoked for about 2 to 3 mins.
You can check Indian chicken recipes
Chicken tikka masala
andhra chicken fry
This post was originally shared in 2013 along with the first picture which I had made without bell peppers & cubed onions. I updated the post with the step by step pictures. Hence there are 2 different pics.
Preparation for kadai chicken
1. Dry roast coriander seeds, fennel seeds (optional) along with red chilies until crisp. Cool and powder coarsely with garam masala.
2. Puree tomatoes. You can also use chopped tomatoes.
If you do not have cream, then make a fine paste of the cashews in a blender with 4 to 6 tbsps water.
The cashew paste must be very smooth.
How to make Kadai Chicken (Stepwise Photos)
1. This step is optional. Skip if you do not want to use capsicum. Heat a pan with oil. Fry cubed onions and capsicum for 2 to 3 minutes on a high flame. When they begin to smell good, set them aside in a plate.
2. Add red chili and cumin.
3. When the cumin begins to crackle add onions and fry till golden.
4. Time to add ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears.
5. Add chicken and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Cover and cook on a low flame for 4 to 5 mins. Do not add water.
7. Add kadai masala, garam masala, red chilli and turmeric. I mixed up all of them and added here. Saute for another two to 3 minutes.
8. Add tomato puree, cashew paste and salt. Stir and cook uncovered till the raw smell of tomato puree goes away. The gravy also thickens. This takes around 5 minutes on a medium to low flame.
9. Cover and cook until the chicken is soft and fully cooked. Then add onions and capsicums.
10. Mix and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Pour 3 tbsp cream to a cup, add little tomato gravy from the kadai to the cream. Mix and add back to the kadai.
12. Lastly I sprinkled crushed kasuri methi and coriander leaves. I also added a bit more of garam masala. Cook for another two minutes.
Garnish kadai chicken with coriander leaves, lemon, onion wedges and ginger julienne.
Kadai Chicken Recipe | Chicken Karahi
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 400 grams chicken (bone or boneless)
- ¾ cup capsicums (or bell peppers cubed) (optional)
- ½ cup onions (cubed & layers separated) (optional)
- ¾ cup tomatoes (chopped & pureed) (about 2 large)
- 1 ½ tablespoons oil (divided, adjust as needed)
- 1 red chili broken
- ½ teaspoon cumin or jeera (optional)
- ½ cup onions chopped finely
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon Salt or as needed
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chilli powder Kashmiri (optional)
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 10 cashew nuts (or 3 tablespoon cream)
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or cilantro finely chopped
For kadai masala
- 1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds (or daniya)
- 4 red chilies
- 1 to 1½ teaspoons garam masala powder
- ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- Dry roast 1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds, ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds and 4 red chilies until crisp & aromatic.
- Cool and powder them in a spice jar along with 1 to 1½ teaspoon garam masala.
- Add ¾ cup chopped tomatoes to a blender and puree them. You can skip this step if u don’t mind using tomatoes directly.
- Optional : Substitute to cream. You can skip this step if using cream. Soak 10 cashews in warm water for 10 minutes. Then make a fine smooth paste adding 4 to 6 tbsps water.
How to Make Kadai Chicken
- Optional: Add 1 tbsp oil to a kadai or wok. When the oil turns hot, add ¾ cup cubed capsicum and ½ cup cubed onions. Fry for 2 minutes on the highest flame. When you begin to smell them good transfer to a plate. Keep it aside.
- Heat the kadai with 1 tablespoon oil. Then add 1 broken chili and ½ teaspoon cumin.
- Fry till the cumin begins to splutter. Add ½ cup finely chopped onions and fry till they turn golden.
- Next add 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell goes off. Do not burn it.
- Add chicken and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add kadai masala, turmeric and ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional).
- Mix and fry well for just 2 to 3 minutes.
- Next pour tomato puree, cashew paste and add salt.
- Mix and cook till the raw smell of the tomatoes goes away.
- The masala thickens and begins to leave oil. Cover and cook until the chicken is soft cooked.
- Add sauted onions and capsicums. Mix and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cook till the gravy thickens to your desired consistency.
- If using cream, pour the cream to a bowl. Take a portion of the gravy and mix with cream. Add back to the kadai and stir well.
- Do not overcook kadai chicken. Capsicum and onions should be crunchy.
- Sprinkle crushed kasuri methi and coriander leaves. Mix well and cook for just one to two minutes. Off the stove.
- Serve kadai chicken with rice or roti.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
Follow Swasthi’s Recipes
If I have a toddler I want to feed this to, should I lessen the amount of red chili’s in the masala, or is this dish not too spicy as is? To get it mildly spicy, should I change anything?
Thank you in advance!
Depends on what kind of red chilies you will be using. Kashmiri red chilies are low in heat, using 3 to 4 won’t make the dish too spicy. Leave out the red chili powder.
Hi. I’m Polish and I really love Indian food. In my country I often order Indian food and I visit various Indian restaurants. Kadhai chicken is my favorite dish. I tried various kadhai chicken recipes, but none of them was as good as yours. With your precious tips and explanations the dish I made really tastes like it was made by an Indian chef. I even dare to say that it tastes better because some chefs in Warsaw’s restaurants are not too skilfull, or they just cut costs by not adding some spices that kadhai chicken should include. Thanks to your recipe, I can eat this awesome dish whenever I want. I always keep all the ingredients and I often make it for my guests who usually don’t know Indian cuisine. By making kadhai chicken I can show them the cuisine of your country at its best 🙂
So glad to know you like this Kadai chicken recipe. Thank you so much!
I am a vegetarian and I made this tonite for my husband and kids. They loved it. Thank you so much!
Glad to know!
I have learned to cook from you and your delicious recipes. Thank you so much for sharing such descriptive and yummy recipes ♥️👌🏼
Especially during these lockdown times, kitchen has been a place I’ve frequently more than ever. I’d chanced upon website (for Biryani) and ever since I’ve been following your recipes consistently.
Today I made Kadai Chicken and I can say with delight that this was the best chicken dish we’ve ever had as a family.
Kudos to you! Love the joy you are spreading through your passion. More power to you!
Thank you so much! Glad to know it turned out good.
Tried this recipe today and it came out really good….My kids loved it a lot…Thank u so much for this wonderful recipe..Can i do this recipe with country chicken??
Glad to know! Thank you! Yes you can do it. Avoid adding tomatoes until chicken is tender as it can become hard.
I tried your kadai chicken (chicken karahi) tonight.
The recipe was perfect and the dinner was thoroughly enjoyed
by our whole family. Thank you so much.
You are welcome! Glad to know!
Thanks for leaving a comment
The whole family loved it! Was so tasty that they polished it off without giving me a chance to take a picture. The only tweak I did to the recipe is marinating the chicken with turmeric and chilli powder instead adding later. It is because the chicken here in the south of Brasil has a different taste to the ones we get in India.
So glad to know it turned out good! Thank you so much!
Swathi ji thank you very much
I tried and it was so wonderful
People started thinking that I am a professional chef
How brilliant your receipies are
Thanks a lot
Glad to know
Mine was a disaster too! In attempting to make a crispy onion capsicum mixture, as advised, there was no flavour left with capsicum to impart to the chicken afterwards.
I wud cut down slightly on the quantity of coriander against the fennel too as the roasted coriander gives a rather strong flavour that i m not used to (thats a personal choice of course)
The amount if oil prescribed for cooking is way too unrealistically low! U need twice that amount st least !!
The dish was delicious. Many thanks. Can i make the Kadia masala from scratch, without the need to add Garam Masala. if so please could you list the ingredients/quantities
You are welcome! Glad it turned out good. I do not have the exact measurements for kadai masala.
Tried this recipe and just loved it!
Thank you Simran!
Glad you loved it!
This recipe is superb – easy and delicious! Loved the taste as well as texture of the chicken. Tasted best with some ajwain roti!
You are welcome. Glad it came out good. Thank you
It comes out like restaurant style.
Lovely taste followed your steps ..: it’s delicious first time tried cooking …
Thank you. Glad your kadai chicken turned out good.
Wow, i so much love ur recipe, i want make chicken cheqnedu.
Thank you. You can find chicken chettinad recipe here
Hi! I love cooking….n today i tried ur recipe… just finished…n it is looking so spicy n yummy..????..
I’ve called my friends over fr lunch.. ?
Thank you soo much..☺
Hi Shinde ji,
You are welcome. Glad your kadai chicken turned out yummy. Hope your friends loved it. Thanks for the comment and the rating.
Just cooked this today for the first time. You made it easy.
Thanks for trying the recipe
Made the chicken Kadai today.turned out very good.thanks for sharing
You are welcome. Thanks for the comment.