Chicken Karahi, also known as Chicken Kadai, is a spicy chicken curry made with fragrant spices and fresh ginger. Here’s an EASY recipe that shows you how to make this flavorful and authentic chicken curry in just a few simple steps using an Instant Pot or a skillet.
What exactly is Karahi?
Karahi also known as Kadai or Kadhai, is a thick, circular, metal cooking pot, similar to a wok. It is commonly used in Indian cooking for curries, sautéing vegetables, and deep frying.
Chicken Karahi is a popular North Indian and Pakistani curry that can be found on almost any restaurant menu. This spicy, homestyle curry is frequently served at roadside dhabas and is often accompanied by hot naan or roti straight from the tandoor.
Why Make Chicken Karahi in the Instant Pot?
I taught young college students how to make traditional Indian dishes in the Instant Pot this summer. I decided to try my stovetop Chicken Karahi recipe in the Instant Pot after receiving a request for it. The end result was:
- a practical and easy curry, that my students could make and enjoy in under 30-minutes
- hands-free recipe compared to the original traditional stovetop recipe
- perfectly cooked chicken every time
- And best of all, authentic and hearty-tasting curry
Chicken – This recipe works best with boneless chicken thighs. You can substitute chicken breasts with the same pressure cooking time and natural pressure release. If you use bone-in chicken or drumsticks, increase the cooking time to 8 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release.
Spices – Garam Masala – I highly recommend my homemade garam masala, Kashmiri red chili powder for a vibrant red colour without adding too much heat, ground cumin and coriander for earthy tones and body, and turmeric for a peppery-woody taste and a deep golden color to the curry.
Ginger – In this dish, finely diced ginger adds a perfect zing and lots of flavors. Along with cilantro, it is also used to garnish the dish.
Tomatoes – In this recipe, I use Pomi chopped tomatoes. They not only taste exactly like fresh tomatoes, but they are also extremely convenient and add a vibrant red hue to the curry. I like to stock up on these tomatoes, which come in BPA-free cartons, especially when fresh tomatoes are not in season. Once opened, you can keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Tips and substitutions
Any mild chilli powder or paprika can be substituted for Kashmiri red chilli powder.
Make sure to dice the ginger finely.
Half the red chilli powder, garam masala, and ginger to make the curry less spicy.
If you like spicy curry, you can add a sliced jalapeo in addition to the onions.
After the curry has been pressure cooked, add 1 inch cubes of red and green peppers. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on saute mode, until the peppers are slightly cooked but still have a nice bite to them.
Step-by-step instructions for making this insanely delicious Instant Pot Chicken Karahi:
- Heat the oil in the Instant Pot on Sauté mode. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onions become translucent, before adding the onions, ginger, and garlic. To expedite the process, use a glass lid. Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, and spices. Seal and pressure the Instant Pot lid with the pressure valve. 5 minutes in the oven (Photos 1–4)
- Allow 5 minutes for the pressure to naturally release. Then let go of any remaining pressure. Lift the lid of the Instant Pot and give it a quick stir. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the curry thickens. Garnish with cilantro and ginger if desired (photos 5 – 6)
Chicken karahi is best served with Roti, Parathas, or Naan and Raita. Serve with Jeera Rice, Basmati Rice, or Brown Rice for a gluten-free meal. For a low-carb ketogenic meal, serve with cauliflower rice.
Do not have the Instant Pot? Here are steps to make Chicken Karahi on stove-top:
- In a medium wok or skillet, heat the oil. Then, over medium-high heat, add the onions, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions become translucent. To expedite the process, use a glass lid.
- Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, and all of the spices.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot with a lid. Cook, frequently stirring, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. If the curry begins to stick to the pot, add a few tablespoons of water as needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and ginger if desired.
I often serve a cooling yogurt drink called “Mattha” in India with this spicy chicken curry. Lots of people asked for the recipe and here it is:
- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 3 cups cold water
- 1-inch ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 green chili or ½ jalapeño
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
More Instant Pot Chicken Curries
Chicken Karahi Easy Recipe
Chicken Karahi or Chicken Kadai is a spicy, homestyle chicken curry with fragrant spices and fresh ginger.
- Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil. Add onions, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Use a glass lid to speed up the process. Tip: Make sure the bottom of the pot has no browning after sautéing the onions. If you see any browning, press Cancel on the Instant Pot and add 2 tablespoons of water and deglaze the bottom of the pot with a wooden or silicone spatula to remove all of the brownings.
- Add the chicken, tomatoes, ground cumin, coriander, garam masala, Kashmiri red chili powder, ground turmeric, and salt. Stir well.
- Close the Instant Pot lid on with the pressure valve to seal. Pressure Cook (Hi) for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes and then release all remaining pressure by turning the pressure release valve from sealing to venting.
- Open the Instant Pot and set it to Sauté mode. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes as the curry continues to thicken. Garnish with cilantro and ginger.
- Serve immediately with naan or parathas and rice. Serve mushroom masala over cauliflower rice for a low-carb meal. A side of cucumber salad completes the meal.
- 4 ripe plum or Roma tomatoes can be substituted for the boxed or canned diced tomatoes.
- Any mild chili powder can be substituted for Kashmiri red chili powder.
- Make sure to dice the ginger very finely so that there are no large chunks of ginger in the curry.
- Reduce the amount of red chili powder, garam masala, and ginger in this curry by half to reduce the spice.
- Add a sliced jalapeno along with the onions to make the curry more spicy and hot.
- In this recipe, you can use either fresh or boxed/canned chopped tomatoes.
- After sautéing the onions, check the bottom of the pot for browning. If there is any browning, cancel the Instant Pot and add 2 tablespoons of water.