Instant Pot Karahi Chicken (Kadai Chicken)


Chicken karahi, also known as kadai chicken, is a spicy, tomatoey chicken curry that’s typically made by simmering and stir-frying chicken in a karahi, an Indian wok. I’m sharing a much simpler recipe using my pre-made onion masala and an instant pot!

instant pot chicken karahi

I’m confident that you’ll love this chicken karahi. I can pretty much guarantee that this dish is restaurant-worthy. How?

Well… I may or may not have thought that it’d be a good idea to order chicken karahi from four different Indian restaurants near me…

Yep, these are from 4 different restaurants. They all look/taste a bit different.

And then I may or may not have moved the curries into four identical white bowls, added a fifth bowl with my homemade version, and then insisted that my husband taste each one and tell me which was best.

I mean, no pressure husband.l 😂 You can see how it went and watch him (really) struggle with this “kadai chicken challenge” lol. You can skip to the end if you want (I wasn’t sure I’d be sharing this iPhone video, so I’m sorry for the quality!).

I thought it’d be a fun experiment! Also, my 3-year-old and 1-year-old were out of town visiting their grandparents and after spending the past four months at home with them glued to me nearly 24-7, I had no idea what else to do with my newfound free time (omg what am I going to do when they go off to college?). This seemed like a good idea 🤷🏽‍♀️.

All five curries were good, and funnily enough, all a bit different from each other. Just goes to show, there’s no one “right” way to make a dish. But I do think there are a few things about my recipe that make it stand out…

instant pot chicken karahi

What Makes an Excellent Chicken Karahi?

There are a few things that make for excellent chicken karahi:

  1. First, you’ve got to toast and blend whole spices. It’s what differentiates an excellent chicken karahi from an ordinary one.
  2. Then there’s the ghee. Oil is fine, but ghee gives chicken karahi a nutty and buttery edge over any other karahi contenders.
  3. For a restaurant-worthy dish, you need chicken karahi to have a suspicion of cream (a couple of tablespoons will do). Just enough to make you wonder, “hey is there cream in this?” 🤔
  4. And finally, cubes of stir-fried onion and green bell pepper, which add necessary crunch to the curry and give it that “karahi” vibe. You should think to yourself, “yeah, this dish could’ve totally been made in a karahi because the veggies are so bright and crisp.” 🥘✌🏽
instant pot chicken karahi

And if you want to go from “excellent” to “omg amazing!” then you’ve got to up the presentation with cilantro, thinly sliced ginger and green chilies. When a dish looks better, it tastes better – pretty sure that’s a fact.

instant pot chicken karahi

What do you eat with Karahi?

Instant Pot Chicken Karahi Recipe (Kadai Chicken)

instant pot chicken karahi

Instant Pot Chicken Karahi Recipe (Kadai Chicken)

5 from 19 reviews
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  • 1 ½ pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs quartered

Whole Spices

  • 4 tablespoons ghee divided
  • 1 onion cubed
  • 1 bell pepper cubed

Ground Spices


  • 1-inch ginger julienned (cut into thin long strips)
  • 1–2 green chilies sliced, to taste
  • Cilantro


  • To dry roast spices, press the sauté button and wait 2 minutes for the pot to heat up. Add the whole spices to the pot and dry roast them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the spices out of the pot and coarsely grind them. Set aside for now.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of ghee to the pot, then add the onion and bell pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly tender. Remove the onions and bell pepper from the pot.
  • Add another 2 tablespoons of ghee to the pot, then add the chicken, freshly ground whole spices, ground spices and green chili to the pot and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the outside of the chicken is well coated in the spices.
  • Add onion masala and 3 tablespoons of water and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Press sauté and stir in heavy cream and fenugreek leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to desired consistency. 
  • Add the cubed onions and bell pepper back to the pot and mix well.
  • Garnish with cilantro, ginger and green chilies.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Janie says

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe thanks so much Ashley!!! Will be on our regular dinner rotation with all of your other ones that we LOVE!!! 5 stars for sure!!! Cheers from New Zealand!

  2. Erin says

    Delicious! Was fun to dry roast the spices. I only had 14oz of chicken and 4 people to feed so I threw in a head of fresh broccoli in the chicken step and it was great! Not exactly traditional but it worked well.

  3. Miriam Kearney says

    Indian food saved my cooking life. I was friends with a woman who was raised in Bombay as an Anglo-Indian and she taught me how to make curry. I felt like I had come home. So, some 50 years later here I am still making those same curries but your site has given me a whole new lease on my culinary life. I am definitely going to make your onion masala because often I don’t make a fully curry just because of all the steps.

  4. Sophie says

    5 stars
    HOLY MOLY ! I totally went wrong with the vindaloo the other day and didn’t vent it after 10 minutes, but this time I set a timer. Forgot the coriander, used a jalapeno instead, and everything was totally fine. I’m having a great time digging into your deep archive of recipes. I’m going to have to make a new batch of tomato onion masala in no time. Thank you Ashley!

  5. Ashley M says

    Hi Ashley,

    I don’t have your onion masala frozen and ready to go, so I wanted to add those ingredients in fresh. Would you be able to help with how the recipe changes when I do so? I looked at your onion masala recipe, but it seems to be to make a large batch. I wanted to make just enough for this recipe. Thanks for your help!

  6. Karen Heim says

    5 stars
    I have tried so many of your Indian recipes, they have all been delicious and easy! I love the make ahead onion masala, such a great time saver. Nothing but great stuff on your website!

  7. Happy says

    5 stars
    This turned out very nice; the flavor was right. It’s funny that a dish that’s literally named after a different way of cooking can work in the instant pot. But most important to me – this was my first attempt at using your onion masala, and wow – absolutely, this is the way to cook on weekdays. I’ll be trying more.

  8. Penny says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight exactly as directed and it was the best one yet, among many great recipes. I didn’t know before “my heart beets” that Indian food could happen on a weekday. Thank you!

  9. upasna says

    5 stars
    followed this recipe and substituted broccoli for the bell peppers since that’s what i had at home and this came out perfectly. didn’t add any heavy cream either and the flavor profile was great. thank you so much for this easy, quick and yummy recipe!!

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