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Karai Chicken recipe

Updated: Mar 14

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Spice level : Medium

Karai Chicken, also known as Kadai chicken was a big favourite in my house when I was growing up.

If we were celebrating an occasion, karai chicken was always cooked or ordered in. Such a treat!

Karai or Kadai means wok and this a much loved north Indian dish served in restaurants. I have always made Kadai chicken which a hot favourite of my family. It can be spicy and flavourful so in case you don’t like too many spices or red chilli powder, you can reduce the proportions accordingly.

A few things I would like to talk here

- The recipe requires Chicken to be marinated for atleast a few hours.

- For the marinade, you can also use ginger and garlic paste. I like to grind the garlic and ginger manually, so it is a bit coarse. Use an inch of peeled ginger and 5-6 peeled cloves of garlic.

- The recipe has whole spices which go onto making the curry for the dish. If you do not like whole spices, you may want to grind the spices beforehand.

- The recipe also uses tomatoes. You may want to puree the tomatoes beforehand if you like a smoother texture.

- I have made my own karai masala (spice mix) for this recipe, which is dry roasted whole spices, ground into a coarse powder. If you want your ground spices to be smoother, sieve the powder before adding it. Adding the recipe below.

- I have added diced green bell peppers in the end for crunchy flavour. It is optional.

-So, let us get cooking!


Chicken Marinade

- 500 gm of boneless chicken (I prefer thighs but you can use chicken breast)

- 1 tbsp of ginger garlic paste

- 1 tbsp of chopped coriander

- Salt to taste

-juice of half a lemon

-pinch of garam masala

-1/3 cup yogurt

Please leave this in the fridge for two at least two hours before cooking.

Kadai Masala recipe

Dry roast the following spices for 2 minutes and then grinder them in a grinder. You will get a good quantity of kadai spice mix although you need only a big heaped tbsp for this recipe

- 1 tbsp cumin seeds

- 1 tbsp coriander seeds

- 1 tbsp black peppercorn

- 1 tbsp fennel seeds

- 2 dried red chillies ( optional)


- 3 tbsp Oil

- Whole spices – 3-4 cardamom, 2-3 black peppercorn, 2 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick and 2 bay leaves, 1 star aneez and one teaspoon cumin seeds

- 2 onion chopped finely.

- 2 green chilli, slit open (optional)

- 3 tomatoes, chopped and pureed or a tin of chopped tomatoes.

- ½ tsp Garam masala

- 1 tsp coriander power

- ½ tsp turmeric powder

- ½ tsp red chilli powder

-1/2 tsp cumin powder

- 1 tbsp Dried fenugreek leaves

- Water (optional and may not be used of you like thick gravy).

- Salt

- 1/2cup yogurt

- Green bell peppers (Optional)

- Fresh coriander leaves chopped

- Ginger juliennes for garnish


-In a wok, heat the oil.

-Once the oil is medium hot, add all the whole species and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.

-Add the chicken and fry it for 7-10 minutes until cooked. Remove from pan

-Add the chopped onions in the same pan

-Fry the onions until golden brown. Please ensure they are golden brown and not translucent as this is what adds depth of flavour and colour to the dish.

-Add the chopped or puréed tomatoes, green chilli and salt and sauté the mixture on high flame until the raw fragrance of the tomatoes goes and the oil separates from the mixture.

-Now add all the ground spices - turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, dried fenugreek leaves and most importantly the Kadai masala. Do not add the garam masala and fenugreek leaves yet.

-Add the cooked chicken on medium to high heat and cook

- Add the yogurt

-Mix all the ingredients well and cook for 3-4 minutes.

- Lower the flame and cover the wok with a lid.

-Add the sautéed capsicum and onion and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

-Add the garam masala, fenugreek leaves, ginger and fresh coriander. Mix well for a minute

-Turn the burner off.


I have tried and tested many combinations of different kadai chicken recipes including what was made in my family and I have improvised over the years. This version is my favourite!

Thank you for reading Suki’s Curries and Spices blog! Means a lot to me 😊

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