Before the avalanche of the niharis and aloo goshts and payes, and chappal kebabs, I thought I’d post something chicken, just to balance everything out (and because everyone secretly eats it on bakra eid anyway). To be honest, mutton is the one thing I have never cooked with. Mainly because I don’t like it much. Chicken, however, is the best protein source ever. Especially if it’s in the form of this amazing karhai (wink). Give me a naan and a bowl of this spice enriched chicken, and I’m good to go.
This chicken karhai is the first I ever made (you’ll be seeing a lot of firsts on this young blog) and since then I’ve made it a bazillion times. It’s quick, super delicious, and SO easy to make.
It’s a true dhaba style karhai. Tender pieces of chicken all soaked in a spicy tomato gravy. The masala is its best part, made with things you’ll probably already have on hand; red chili powder, ground cumin, fresh tomatoes, some yogurt, garam masala, and green chilies.
Cooking is a bit difficult to explain. Everyone has a personal style, there is no right and wrong unlike in baking where you have to follow to the last dollop. With cooking you can adjust, substitute and play around with things. And that is exactly why I had a little difficulty in explaining the cooking procedure with this recipe. I’ve tried to explain it as clearly as I could. See, with chicken, I have my own way of cooking it. Some people may find it weird (my mom does) I cook it low and slow till it’s fully done. And then I crank up the heat and cook it while continuously mixing it, there’s a word for the mixing: “bhouna”. So I mix it and I keep on adding water, little by little till I reach the desired consistency of my gravy. Usually, you cook the chicken on high in the very beginning and then leave to cook on slow. But this is how I like to do it, and how I think it just comes out better.
A few pointers if you’re a novice at this:
If the chicken is frozen, thaw it out on a counter or in a bowl filled with water. Remember to wash chicken well before use.
Slice tomatoes thinly into circles. You can blanch the tomatoes and take the peel off beforehand if you do not like bits of tomato peel in your gravy.
I always use fresh grated ginger and garlic. Store-bought ginger and garlic paste can also be used.
Whip yogurt well to remove all lumps.
Share what you’re planning to make this Eid. I might, I just might attempt to make mutton biryani. True deghi style. Fingers crossed. Follow me on Instagram to keep updated. But until then, make this chicken karhai. Garnish with fresh coriander. And serve piping hot alongside some naan!
Eid Mubarak to you all!
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serves 6-8
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
1 kilo, 12-16 pieced, chicken
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoon ginger garlic paste
5-6 medium size fresh tomatoes
2 teaspoon red chili powder, leveled
1 ½ teaspoon salt, leveled
¼ cup yogurt
4-6 green chilies, sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin (zeera powder)
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 teaspoon allspice powder (garam masala powder)
Fresh coriander leaves
In a pan heat the oil. Fry ginger garlic paste till golden brown. Add the sliced tomatoes. Mix well. When the oil appears on the surface, add the chicken pieces. Mix. When chicken turns white, add the chili powder, and the salt. Mix. Add a ¼ cup water. Cover the pan, and cook on low heat. As soon as the chicken is half done, add the yogurt, green chilies, and the ground cumin. Mix. Cover, and cook on low till chicken is fully cooked.
Then, crank up the heat and cook the chicken while continuously mixing. Add half a cup of water. Mix till masala is fully uniform. Add the garam masala, and the fenugreek. Mix and cook for five minutes longer on low heat, covered.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and julienned ginger.
Serve hot with naan.