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Butter Chicken Karahi

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Butter chicken karahi is not like the butter chicken you might already know!

If you like a good butter chicken, you will love the butter chicken karahi recipe. This is how the curry is prepared at karahi street food stalls in Pakistan. Rather than the slowly stewed version that is so popular all over the west, you cook this butter chicken karahi fast over a high heat and the flavour is amazing!

You will also find links below to some hugely popular side dishes to serve with your butter chicken karahi.

Butter chicken karahi

This curry is delicious served over rice, chapatties or naans.

What are karahi curries?

I must get asked for karahi recipes more than any other curry recipe. The thing is, a karahi is a round pan, similar to a wok. Some have handles and others don’t.  They usually don’t call for many ingredients but they are the freshest ingredients available.

Cooking them over the smoky, high heat is what makes butter chicken karahi so out of this world gorgeous!

What do you serve with butter chicken karahi?

If you’d like to make this curry into a feast, you’ve come to the right place. You could just go for a side of Basmati rice or mushroom fried rice.

If you’d like to make naans, why not try one of these?  Instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans.

Want to start your butter chicken karahi meal off with a bang? How about fried shop bought poppadoms or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own poppadoms from scratch and serve them with coriander chutney, red onion chutney, and/or tamarind chutney.

What is the difference between butter chicken and butter chicken karahi?

Butter chicken as you might know it is a slowly simmered, tomato based curry. You add cooked tandoori chicken to the sauce with all of its marinade. That is then topped with lots of butter, hence the name.

You will probably find butter chicken karahi quite similar but rather than using tandoori chicken, you shallow fry the chicken in oil. The oil is part of the sauce and it breaks down the tomatoes into a creamy sauce. Unlike the more famous butter chicken (at least in the west), butter chicken karahi does not include onions. Other than that, the ingredients are really quite similar. There’s no reason you can’t add chopped onions to yours though. 

How much oil?!

Authentic karahi recipes use a lot of oil. The oil heats up and breaks down the other ingredients to make the sauce. 

As the curry cooks, the oil begins to rise to the top once it has done its job. Usually that oil is served with the curry but you could skim it off the top at the end. That said, butter chicken with all its cream and yoghurt isn’t really a light curry in the first place.

Top Tips…

  • Use a cast iron or carbon steel karahi if you have one. A good wok will also work. You really want to get in the and stir hard over the high heat so frying pans are not ideal but will work. 
  • The sauce will begin to caramelise to the sides of the karahi as you cook, when it does, scrape that back into the sauce.
  • Use the freshest, bright red tomatoes you can get your hands on! I use vine tomatoes but large Roma tomatoes are also perfect.
  • Be sure to peel all the skin off the tomatoes as they cook. As the tomatoes cook into the butter chicken karahi sauce, it will be easy to peel the skins off.
  • Use tongs to remove the tomato skins. As you do, squeeze the tomatoes with the tongs to help break them down.

Step by step photos of butter chicken karahi

Ingredients for butter chicken karahi

Get your ingredients together before starting. It is easier that way.

Cooking the chicken

Heat the oil over a high heat and add the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook for about 8 minutes or until just cooked through.

Adding garlic and ginger paste to the pan.

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste.

Adding the ground spices and tomatoes

Add the ground spices to the chicken and stir well to combine. Then top with the tomatoes.

Removing the tomato skins

Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer covered for about 7 minutes. Then begin removing the tomato skins.

Adding yoghurt to the butter chicken karahi.

Turn the heat back up to high to allow the tomatoes to break down. Then stir in the yoghurt.

Adding cream to the sauce.

Continue simmering over a high heat to thicken the sauce for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the cream. The sauce will still be quite thin at this stage.

Adding butter and kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves).

Once the sauce looks almost thick enough to serve, stir in the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and butter.

Thickened butter chicken karahi sauce

Continue simmering over a high heat until you have a thick sauce and the oil is beginning to rise to the top. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Skim that oil or eat it!

Garnishing the curry with ginger, coriander (cilantro) and chillies.

Top with coriander (cilantro), chillies if you like and julienned ginger.

Finished butter chicken karahi

Dig in with a hot chapatti, paratha or naan.

If you like this butter chicken karahi recipe, you might like t0 try some of these too.

Beef Biryani
Chicken Biryani
Chickpea Biryani
Chicken Karahi
Lamb Korma
Shami Kebab
Aloo Gobi
Lamb Nihari
Chapli Kebabs
Lamb Seekh Kebabs
Staff Chicken Curry
Butter Chicken
Chicken Haleem
Tarka Dal
Pilau Rice
Chicken Tikka Masala
Grilled Lamb Chops
Lamb Tikka
Spicy Kashmiri Lamb Chops


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Yield: 4

Butter Chicken Karahi

Garnishing the curry with ginger, coriander (cilantro) and chillies.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 125ml (1/2 cup) rapeseed (canola) oil or ghee
  • 700g (1 ½ lbs) boneless chicken thighs, skinned and cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 5 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 75g (1/4 cup) plain natural yoghurt, whisked until creamy smooth
  • 5 tbsp single cream (half and half)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) ginger, julienned
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 2 green finger chillies, thinly sliced if you like a bit of spice


  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a karahi or wok over a high heat. Add the diced chicken and fry for about 5 minutes or until white on the exterior and almost cooked through. Season with the salt and pepper and add the ground spices. Stir this all together to coat the chicken.
  2. Now add the tomatoes and push them down into the simmering sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Lift the lid. The skin from the tomatoes should be coming off, remove this with tongs or your hands. If using tongs, squeeze the tomatoes as you do to help break them down. The tomato skins should come off easily but if not, raise the heat again to high and simmer until the skin can be easily removed.
  4. Push the peeled tomatoes down into the sauce, smashing them as you do. Then add the yoghurt and stir it into the sauce.
  5. Reduce the heat to low again and cover the pan for about 5 minutes. Stir from time to time, pushing the tomatoes down and breaking them apart. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and turn the heat up again to high.
  6. Add the cream and stir constantly, scraping any sauce that begins to caramelise to the side of the pan back in for additional flavour. Keep stirring. You want the tomatoes, cream and yoghurt to emulsify with the oil into a smooth sauce.
  7. When you are happy with your sauce, add the butter and let it begin to melt into the sauce, while continuing to stir. Add the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) by rubbing the leaves between your finger. Although this is not butter chicken like you might have tried before, it should look like it. Keep stirring until the sauce comes together and looks like butter chicken! If serving with chapattis or naans, you want to continue cooking the sauce down until it is nice and thick!
  8. Try the curry and add more salt and pepper to taste if you like. Top with the julienned ginger and coriander. If you like a bit of spice, top also with thinly sliced chillies.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 750mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 13g

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I hope you enjoy this butter chicken karahi recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Friday 21st of June 2024

What a fantastic recipe! The whole family absolutely loved this. 5 star restaurant quality. I made this with added onions and peppers, and used the chicken tikka recipe for the chicken. Absolutely fantastic!

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Great to hear the whole family loved it. Thanks very much. Dan

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