Chicken karahi

Living in Manchester, a trip to the Curry Mile is a rite of passage. And on a recent trip, I sampled possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten.

Chicken karahi is a Pakistani curry that, to everyone’s surprise, doesn’t include an onion. I like my curries fiery and savoury – I wouldn’t thank you for a creamy korma or passanda, which I find sweet – so when my karahi arrived, I was bowled over. Determined to remake it at home, I went exploring for a recipe and ended up riffing off one I found.

We always have ginger and garlic pastes in the fridge (they’re less than £1.50 each per jar, and typically last us 3-4 weeks), so the only outlay is for the chicken (<£3) and salad tomatoes (<70p).

It’s perfect served with fluffy rice (pennies) and your preferred store-bought naan (<£1). The leftovers get boxed up and taken to work for a tasty lunch – usually with chapattis (<£1) rather than rice, which doesn’t keep safely.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 4-6 x skinless chicken thighs (depending on size), diced
  • 1tbsp garlic paste
  • 1tbsp ginger paste
  • 2-3 x finger chillis, stabbed (not chopped)
  • 6 x salad tomatoes, diced (skin, seeds and all)
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 1.5tsp table salt
  • 0.5tsp chilli flakes


  1. Melt the ghee over a medium heat in a wide, hot frying pan, and add the ginger and garlic pastes.
  2. Quickly stir in the chicken and reduce the heat, to cook the chicken through without burning the pastes.
  3. Once the chicken is starting to take some colour, add the whole chillis and all the spices, including salt. Stir to coat everything.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, and a little water to prevent anything from sticking to the pan.
  5. Stir occasionally to help the tomatoes break down into a thick sauce. Add more water as required – repeatedly if required. The longer you cook it, the darker the sauce will become, but it’ll still taste great if you’re in a hurry.



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