kadai chicken karahi chicken

Kadai Chicken Recipe (Chicken Karahi)

Updated: September 9, 2023, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Make this restaurant style Kadai Chicken for a hearty Indian meal. Serve it with Butter Naan, Chapati, Tandoori Roti, Basmati rice or Jeera rice. Kadai Chicken also known as Karahi Chicken is a popular dish from the Indian sub-continent. Chicken is slow cooked with tomatoes and spices in a special iron wok known as kadai.

kadai chicken also known as karahi chicken

There are numerous kadai dishes made across regions, with chicken, mutton, vegetables and paneer. All these dishes are cooked in a kadai so they are named after that like Kadai Paneer, Kadai Mushroom etc.

Also a lot of times a special spice blend known as kadai masala is used to flavor the dishes. Kadai Masala consists of coarse crushed coriander seeds, fennel seeds, dried red chilies and black pepper.

This restaurant style Kadai Chicken is a modernized version of the actual age-old North-Indian Karahi Chicken. The dish is mainly popular in the restaurants and dhabas and is cooked in an iron kadai which imparts a unique flavor to the dishes.

Modern Vs Traditional

The authentic North-Indian version does not use onions and bell peppers like the modern restaurant style dish. It is plain old chicken simmered with ghee/ mustard oil, plenty of tomatoes, ginger, garlic & coarsely crushed whole spices.

It is sometimes finished with yogurt or cream & does not have much sauce. Karahi Chicken is garnished with ginger juliennes and green chilies. Here is a picture of the same.

authentic karahi chicken

However in the modern days you find kadai chicken made with onions and bell peppers to balance the flavors. Using only tomatoes can make the dish too sour so it is addressed with the inclusion of onions which adds sweeter tones.

Bell peppers are used to bring in some smoky flavor (when they are stir fried on a high heat).

While this may look similar to Chicken Jalfrezi, the difference lies in the use of kadai masala and cashews/cream/yogurt. Also Kadai Chicken is always made with fresh tomatoes and jalfrezi with canned tomato puree or a small amount of ketchup is added for a umami flavor. Sometimes soya sauce is also added for a twist.

This restaurant style Kadai Chicken is a keeper and has been roughly adapted from the popular chefs Nita Mehta and Vahchef. Over the years this recipe has been upgraded for more flavor and ease of making.

It tastes very close to better than what you get in standard North-Indian restaurants. Much of the flavor and the texture comes from the kadai masala (shared in the post).

Restaurants use various ingredients like yogurt, cream and cashew paste for a creamy texture. You can do the same based on your preference. If you don’t like bell peppers feel free to exclude from this recipe.

In the past 2 years I have also found this Curry Sauce (no carrot) being added to the kadai dishes for more volume & unique taste.

More Indian Chicken Recipes
Chicken Bhuna
Butter Chicken
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken 65

How to make Kadai Chicken (Stepwise Photos)

Make Kadai Masala

1. Firstly prepare kadai masala or use store bought kadai masala or chicken masala. You can make this ahead and store in a air tight jar for few months. Here are the ingredients used:

  • 1½ tablespoons coriander seeds (I use 2 tbsps)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ inch cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 2 to 3 black pepper corn ( or use ⅛ tsp crushed)
  • 1 dried Kashmiri red chili
whole spices for kadai masala

2. Dry roast coriander seeds and red chili on a medium heat, for 2 mins. Add fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms and black pepper. Roast for another 2 mins, until aromatic. If using crushed black pepper add at the end. Cool the spices and add them to a grinder.

roast spices in a wok

3. Make a fine powder. A lot of people like to use coarse crushed spices but we don’t prefer grits in the dish. If you want you may coarse crush them.

make kadai masala in a grinder


4. To make Kadai Chicken, you need to prepare the following. Once you are done chopping the onions, you may begin to cook while you prepare the rest. This saves some time.

  • ¾ cup (100 grams) onions chopped finely
  • 1¼ cup (300 grams) tomato puree (2 medium tomatoes pureed)
  • ¾ tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup onions (cubed & layers separated) (optional)
  • ½ cup capsicums (bell peppers cubed) (optional)
prepare onions, tomatoes and bell peppers

5. Gather the following spices:

  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (use up to 1 teaspoon for heat)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 Kashmiri dried red chili broken
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds /jeera (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste, I use ¾ tsp)
whole and ground spices to make karahi chicken

6. You may leave out this ingredient if you don’t prefer creamy taste. You will use 3 tablespoons heavy cream or yogurt (not sour) or 10 cashews. Powder the cashews first to a fine powder, add 4 tablespoons water and grind to a smooth puree.

cream, yogurt or cashew puree

Make Chicken Karahi

7. On a medium flame, heat 2½ tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan/kadai. When the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds and red chili.

temper whole spices

8. Add fine chopped onions and saute until golden, for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and saute for 30 to 60 seconds.

saute onions ginger garlic

9. Add chicken.

stir fry chicken

10. Saute until the chicken turns pale, for 3 to 4 mins.

pale chicken

11. Lower the heat and stir in the spices – red chili powder, turmeric, salt and kadai masala.

kadai masala being sprinkled on chicken

12. Pour the tomato puree and mix well. Cook on a medium heat until the puree turns slightly thick and loses its raw flavor, for 3 to 4 mins. It is normal for the tomato mixture to splutter.

tomato puree in kadai

13. Partially cover the pan. Cook further until the chicken is tender and fully cooked through. The gravy should be thick at this stage. To check if the chicken is cooked through, cut a largest boneless chicken piece with a spatula or a butter knife. You should be able to cut through easily. Or your thermometer should read 165 F at the thickest part of the chicken.

simmering the tomatoes

Stir Fry Bell Peppers (optional)

14. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a wok.

melt butter

15. Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir fry on ahigh heat for 2 mins until the peppers are slightly blistered.

stir fry bell peppers

16. When the Kadai chicken gravy is thick to your liking, add the stir fried onions, bell peppers, kasuri methi and more salt if required (taste test first).

kadai chicken being simmered with bell peppers and kasuri methi

17. Next pour the cashew puree. If using yogurt or cream, pour 3 tablespoons to a small bowl and mix with a few tablespoons of gravy first. Mix well and stir it back to the kadai chicken.

pour cashew puree

18. Lastly simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook as we don’t want the veggies to lose crunch.

kadai chicken gravy

Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or with 1 inch ginger juliennes and 1 sliced green chili.

kadai chicken karahi chicken recipe

Pro Tips

  • To make the authentic karahi chicken, simply leave out the onions and bell peppers in the recipe. Also avoid using sour tomatoes and balance the flavors by playing around with spices and cashew puree. If you don’t do that you may end up with a tomato sauce like dish.
  • If you are making this dish ahead, make sure you add bell peppers only at the time of serving. The bell peppers can impart stronger flavor to the dish when you reheat.
  • Avoid overcooking bell peppers.
  • This post has been updated with new photos and instructions for clarity. The recipe is the same with minor adjustments to the spices.

Related Recipes

This recipe was first published in Jan 2013. Updated in September 2023.

Recipe Card

kadai chicken karahi chicken recipe

Kadai Chicken Recipe (Chicken Karahi)

4.98 from 197 votes
Make this restaurant style Kadai Chicken for a hearty Indian meal. Chicken is cooked with a special spice blend known as kadai masala for a flavorsome dish. Serve it with any flatbreads or basmati rice or jeera rice.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time50 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ kg (1.1 lbs) boneless chicken (1 inch pieces or ¾ kg (1.6 lbs) bone-in chicken, curry-cut)
  • ¾ cup (100 grams) onions chopped finely
  • 1¼ cup (300 grams) tomato puree (2 medium tomatoes pureed)
  • ¾ tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 Kashmiri dried red chili broken
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds /jeera (optional)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (use up to 1 teaspoon for heat)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste, I use ¾ tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream/ yogurt (or 10 cashews pureed, read notes)
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro finely chopped)

To Stir Fry (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • ½ cup onions (cubed & layers separated) (optional)
  • ½ cup capsicums (bell peppers cubed) (optional)

For Kadai Masala (or use store bought kadai/chicken masala)

  • tablespoons coriander seeds (I use 2 tbsps)
  • 1 dried Kashmiri red chili
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ inch cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 2 to 3 black pepper corn (or ⅛ teaspoon crushed pepper)



  • On a medium heat, dry roast red chili and coriander seeds for 2 minutes. Add cloves, cardamoms, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Roast until they smell aromatic, for 1 to 2 mins.
  • Cool this and make a fine powder. Keep this aside.

How to Make Kadai Chicken

  • On a medium flame, heat ghee/oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and red chili.
  • When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions and saute until golden for 4 to 5 mins.
  • Stir in ginger garlic paste and saute for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Add chicken and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken turns pale. Lower the heat and stir in turmeric, red chili powder, salt and kadai masala.
  • Mix well and pour the pureed tomatoes. Cook on a medium heat until the tomato puree turns slightly thick & loses its raw flavor, for 3 to 4 mins.
  • Partially cover the pan and cook further until the chicken is tender and fully cooked through. The gravy should be thick at this stage.
  • Optional: Meanwhile melt butter in a wok. Add the bell peppers and onions, stir fry on a high heat until the capsicum is slightly blistered, for 2 to 3 mins, Avoid overcooking, keep them crunchy. Add this to the kadai chicken.
  • Taste test and add more salt if needed along with garam masala and kasuri methi.
  • Stir in the cashew puree. If using heavy cream or yogurt, pour it to a small bowl. Take a portion of the gravy and mix with it. Add back the tempered cream/yogurt to the kadai chicken.
  • Simmer for 2 mins & avoid overcooking to retain the crunch of bell peppers. Garnish with coriander leaves or ginger juliennes and slit green chilies.
  • Serve kadai chicken with flatbreads or basmati rice.


  1. Powder cashews in a small grinder and then pour 4 tablespoons water. Blend to a smooth puree. Alternately you may soak the cashews in 4 tablespoons hot water for 15 mins and blend with the soaked water.
  2. Avoid adding yogurt if your tomatoes are too sour.

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.


Watch Chicken Karahi Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Kadai Chicken Recipe (Chicken Karahi)
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 339 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 101mg34%
Sodium 479mg21%
Potassium 801mg23%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 1501IU30%
Vitamin C 39mg47%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Kadai Chicken Recipe (Chicken Karahi)

About Swasthi

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

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5 stars
Absolutely loved this recipe – as did the rest of the family. I have been searching for a good Kadai curry recipe with the proper texture for ages. Great pro tips with the cashew mix adding to the mouth feel. Really balanced flavours and a surprisingly easy recipe. I used thigh fillets and cooked the meal an hour early only adding the stir fry of onion and capsicum just before serving. Restaurant meal at home. Thank you for the recipe! Will be trying many more from your site.

5 stars
Made this curry today and it’s pretty much the BEST chicken curry I have ever made! True restaurant style and so tasty!?

My dad and I made this dish yesterday, and we were amazed by the incredible taste! Thank you for a fantastic recipe ??

5 stars
Thank you for this amazing recipe. It was delicious and I made it thrice in the last 2 months. The cashew cream is delicious and tastes like served in the restaurant.

Would you be able to share how to make the kadai masala with just ground spices? I don’t like using store bought masala due to the salt content and I don’t have whole spices.

5 stars
Followed the recipe to T except leaving out the capsicum and onions. Used yogurt for cream and it tastes fantastic.

I am told the ingredients for kadai chicken but not the amounts eg Cumin?????

5 stars

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!


5 stars
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 🙂

5 stars
I am a vegetarian and I made this tonite for my husband and kids. They loved it. Thank you so much!

5 stars
Hi sister,
I have learned to cook from you and your delicious recipes. Thank you so much for sharing such descriptive and yummy recipes ♥️??

Swasthi Ma’am,

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!


5 stars
Hi Swasthi,

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??

5 stars
Hi Swasthi,
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.

5 stars
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.

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

1 star
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 !!

5 stars
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

5 stars
Tried this recipe and just loved it!