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Chicken Namkeen Karahi

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This recipe chicken karahi recipe might only call for seven ingredients but it’s amazing!

I get asked for a chicken karahi recipe all the time. I have a lot of them and decided to feature this one in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Bible’.

The thing is, many different chicken curries could be a chicken karahi. If you cook the curry in a karahi, a two handled metal wok-like pan, then you have a chicken karahi.

Restaurants calling this or that chicken curry a chicken karahi has caused a lot of confusion as to what it really is. Simply asking for a chicken karahi recipe could bring back so many completely different recipes.

This chicken namkeen, however is one that I think will check all the boxes for you chicken karahi fans out there. It is traditionally cooked in a karahi pan over fire. It’s deliciousness is in its simplicity.

Chicken Karahi

One of my favourite chicken karahi recipes. Try this chicken namkeen.

Where is this chicken karahi recipe from?

The recipe is called chicken namkeen in Pakistan though I tried it first in northern India. The namkeen was cooked over a wood fire in a huge karahi which added so much to the experience. 

I watched it being made. Only seven ingredients! With most Indian and Pakistani curries calling for many more ingredients, I was curious about how this simple curry would taste.

Believe me… I was no disappointed! 

It just goes to show that sometimes the simplest recipe can be awesome. 

The secret ingredient…

After trying the curry with a large homemade naan that was used to pick up the tender pieces of chicken coated in a thick sauce, I spoke to the chef. 

I found it hard to believe that this chicken karahi could be so good with so few ingredients.

The chef explained that chicken namkeen was cooked in chicken fat, not just normal cooking oil. 

As most chicken is cooked without skin in India and Pakistan, getting the required chicken fat was very easy and it also ensure less waste.

The chicken skin and fat from inside the carcass were rendered down to make the oil. The following video demonstrates how to do this. 

Getting this chicken karahi recipe right…

Personally, I think this recipe needs to be made just as described with skinless chicken cooked on the bone.

That’s the authentic way to do it and the bone in chicken does add flavour.

If you prefer your chicken off the bone, I recommend using chicken thigh meat as there is more flavour in chicken thighs than breasts.

Although goose fat is a lot easier to come by, you can purchase it at most supermarkets, I don’t recommend using it. To get this chicken karahi recipe right you really need to use chicken fat. 

So make it. In some countries like the US, you can purchase rendered chicken fat but I haven’t found it in the UK. 

The authentic recipe calls for chopped fresh tomatoes. This is fine in countries where tomatoes are good year round but I prefer to use tinned (canned) in the colder months and also for ease. 

Following are a few step by step photos of the cooking process…

Heating chicken fat

Heat the rendered chicken fat over high heat in a karahi or other pan.

Adding chicken to the hot fat

Add the chicken to the hot fat and bring to a sizzle.

How this chicken karahi recipe differs to the chicken namkeen in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Bible’.

For the blog and also because I cook this recipe live, I cut down on the cooking time.

In ‘The Curry Guy Bible’ there is a longer cooking time which gets the chicken nice and crispy. This is the way I learned the recipe.

For the blog, I reduced the cooking time to show that both options are possible and work well. 

Frying chicken

Fry the chicken until cooked through. About 5 – 8 minutes should do. Then pour out all but about 3 tbsp of the fat.

Add the chopped tomatoes

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well.

Stirring in the chillies

Then stir in the chillies.

Chicken namkeen

Add the black pepper. Use my measurement or add to taste.

stir in the ginger and salt to taste

Stir in julienned ginger and salt to taste to serve.


chicken namkeen

Chicken karahi cooked in a karahi pan. You could of course cook this in a normal pan or wok too.

If you like the look of this chicken karahi recipe, you might like to try some of these too…

Railway lamb curry
Chicken lababdar
Curry house staff chicken curry

Chicken namkeen with naan

Pick up a naan, chapati or paratha and dig in!


Yield: 4

Chicken Karahi - Authentic Chicken Namkeen

chicken karahi
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 250ml (1 cup) rendered chicken fat
  • 1.5kg (3 lb 5 oz) whole chicken cut into about 20 pieces
  • 400g (14oz) tin (can)
  • 6 (or more) green bird's eye chillies slit down the centre lenthwise
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 5cm (2 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and julienned


  1. Heat a large karahi or pan over a high heat and pour in the rendered chicken fat. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through. This should take about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir regularly so that it cooks evenly.
  2. Once cooked, pour out all but about 4 tablespoons of the fat. This can be frozen and used another time.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Then add the chillies and black pepper. Stir well to combine.
  4. Continue cooking until you have a thick sauce that adheres to the chicken pieces.
  5. Season with salt to taste and garnish with the julienned ginger.

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