Kadai Chicken


Chicken Karahi (Kadai), an Indian Recipe by Ashley of myheartbeets.com

What is Kadai Chicken?

When you eat out at an Indian restaurant, chances are that they’ll have Kadai Chicken on the menu. It’s a popular north Indian dish that’s made with a few freshly ground whole spices and is known for its incredible flavor.

Why is it called Kadai chicken?

Kadai chicken is a simple, spicy dish and is traditionally made in a cast iron wok, but you can use a dutch oven or large saute pan instead. Kadai (or Karahi) just means “wok” – therefore, Kadai Chicken translates to Wok Chicken.

It’s not the most creative name… but it is pretty straightforward. If I could rename the dish, I’d call it “tasty chicken smothered in a thick, spicy tomato masala sauce made with freshly ground spices” or something slightly shorter than that.

Chicken Karahi (Kadai), an Indian Recipe by Ashley of myheartbeets.com

While this dish is not as well known as butter chicken, it’s right up there in deliciousness. Kadai Chicken is more of a drier curry where the spices really cling onto the chicken. It goes really well with my 3-ingredient Paleo Naan or my nut-free Roti recipe.

Chicken Karahi (Kadai), an Indian Recipe by Ashley of myheartbeets.com

Kadai Chicken

Chicken Karahi (Kadai), an Indian Recipe by Ashley of myheartbeets.com

Kadai Chicken

4.96 from 25 reviews
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  • Roast the whole spices: black peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, until the spices are fragrant. Coarsely grind the spices in a spice or coffee grinder and set aside.
  • Add ghee, bay leaf, and onions to a wok or dutch oven over medium heat and stir-fry for 15-20 minutes, or until the onions turn golden.
  • Then add garlic, ginger, Serrano pepper, freshly ground spices and the remaining spices to the wok. Stir-fry for a couple minutes then add the chicken.
  • Once the chicken is coated with spices, add the tomato puree. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove lid and raise the heat to high – then cook until the water from the tomato puree evaporates – another 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


I made this using a cast iron wok. If you use another pan, you may have to adjust your cooking time.
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Chicken Karahi (Kadai), an Indian Recipe by Ashley of myheartbeets.com

This is one of the many delicious recipes in my eBook, South Asian Persuasion so if you’re looking for healthy paleo-friendly recipes with a lot of flavor, then be sure to check it out!

just for fun, here’s a picture I took of this dish in 2014:

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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. Derek Barton says

    I intend to make this dish but I don’t understand how 3 tomatoes will make 3 cups of puree, please advise. Thank you

  2. Anita says

    5 stars
    I made the chicken kadai for the first time and I have to say it was delicious! The flavors were on point – restaurant quality! My niece Maneesha (who is a huge fan of yours) suggested your site and I have tried many of your recipes in the instant pot. It is really nice to see that our children have such a great resource and to be inspired to cook and make home made meals, feel good and get excited about it! My daughter makes your meals all the time as well! Thank you so much!

  3. Dhanushree Mathur says

    5 stars
    I love cooking, especially for my family..!

    Awesome recipe, everyone in my family loved it..!

    I am gonna make it again and again..!

  4. AJ Hartley says

    5 stars
    Having grown up in Northern England (though I now live in Charlotte) I was practically raised on Indian food and I cook it a lot. Your recipe produced one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. Thank you. I admit that substituted one of last year’s home grown ghost peppers for the serano 🙂

  5. Bree says

    5 stars
    Another yum recipe by Ashley. I got carried away with the ginger so mine turned out extremely spicy. But it was so yum. Definitely going to be my go to recipe when company comes. My hubby didn’t like it as an entree since he prefers chicken with gravy but we will serve it as starters to go with pre-dinner drinks.

  6. Ushma Shah says

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this simple yet the most amazing recipe. I made this for lunch today it and came out perfect. I used 1/2 habanero pepper instead of Serrano pepper (had that in the fridge). The only variation I made was marinate the thighs (in 2tbsp buttermilk, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper) for an hour. Followed your recipe and this was the most tender and flavorful dish. Can’t wait to try more of your dishes.

  7. Reema says

    I made this dish for a dinner party with several other recipes from your website – the apple rice, saag and th bean salad. It was delicious and went really well with the rice. It’s a real keeper for my company worthy dishes list!

  8. Angela Gohokar says

    I love this receipe, but would love to know how you make it in the Insta Pot. It’s not in your new cookbook. Thank you!

  9. Loraine Mardle says

    4 stars
    I cooked this a couple of nights ago it was lovely but a bit too spicy for me – I think because of the chilli powder I have as it seems to be making all my regular dishes far spicier that normal lol

  10. Elizabeth says

    Absolutely superb. My husband & I were drooling over the wok as we were impatiently waiting for the liquid to cook away. So yum ☺️

  11. Mary says

    5 stars
    This dish is so tasty – comfort-food tasty – that my husband ranked it as better than the Mushroom Mattar Mehti (which is my new fave!). The first time I made it with skinless, boneless thighs. Is there a precedent or should it be skin-on?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Mary!! I’m so happy to hear that you and your hubby like the recipe! And that you like my mushroom mattar methi recipe! Indian chicken dishes are typically always skin off unless mentioned otherwise. As for bones – that’s up to you. I’ll make a note so that it’s clear to use skinless thighs in this recipe 🙂

  12. t. says

    i know that the toasting of the spices is probably pretty important to this, but for those of us that don’t have spice grinders, how much ground cumin, coriander and black pepper would you recommend using?

  13. Sharon says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley – i made this yet
    again for friends & was worrying about doubling up the quantity as i have read it is not always a good idea with curry recipes – but i can tell you it was superb – my friends thanked me the next day saying they would pay for this & could still remember it the next morning 🙂 i also made my own masala mix which was rather strong but it was fantastic – thank you!!!! I always add a bit of fish sauce for depth of flavour and it definitely adds umamai to all my curries/ dishes

    WE LOVE THIS RECIPE – THANK YOU warm regards Sharon

  14. Alysha says

    5 stars
    So I made this dish last night and had a major disaster! Everything was going fine up until the point of turning the heat on high and cooking all the water off, I was stirring occasionally but ended up with a huge stuck on burnt layer on the bottom of my pan, and it ended up making the food smell and taste like char. Where did I go wrong? Was my heat TOO high, did I not stir enough? I want to try this again but maybe with lower heat when cooking the liquid off. It is such a great recipe though!

  15. Sharon says

    5 stars
    Dear Ashley

    This was superb – my second time making it in 2 weeks!! “10 out of 10” was my husband’s comment.

    Thank you – the sign of a good curry is the delicious taste that lingers well after you have finished 🙂

    I used smoked paprika as that was all i had – so delicious.

  16. Sharon says

    5 stars
    Dear Ashley
    Thank you for this delicious & easy recipe to follow – my husband and I both gave it a 10/10!!!! I only had smoked paprika and it still tasted delicious. Next time i think i will make it with chicken bone in thighs & cook it slowly in my Le Creuset pot in the oven or on the stove agin. Thank you once again – i will most definitely be trying some of your other recipes.

    Warm regards from South Africa

  17. PatMan says

    5 stars
    And I thought the Butter Chicken was the most legit Indian dish I had ever prepared – was I ever wrong!

    I know this as Chicken Karahi, as opposed to Kadai, but a quick Google shows it to be the same thing. I used to LIVE on this stuff when I was in the UK, and this is better than anything I ever had on Brick Lane. Green bell pepper is an excellent addition to this dish, I’m thinking it could add it with the tomato puree – next time…

    And you’re selling yourself short if you don’t whip up some 3-ingredient naan to go with this. You know you want to!

  18. Kailash says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley, I have just started Paleo about a month ago and would like to start these Indian recipes for chicken, turkey etc. I do have one question, most Indian recipes with gravy, I find that the chicken gets overcooked. Is there a way I can do this recipe without that happening? I do like meat that is still a little hard, though fully cooked.

    Can I take out the chicken after the 10 minutes and let the rest of the sauce get a little drier with the lid open and then add back the chicken?


    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Kailash, are you using chicken thighs? Chicken breast cooks very quickly but chicken thighs take more time, which is why I typically use them more often in curries. You can definitely remove the chicken once it’s done and then continue to reduce the sauce. Hope that helps!

  19. Davina says

    After the huge success of your Butter Chicken recipe, I was excited to give this a go.

    WOW!! This was fantastic, so tasty and really easy to make! I have to say, I impressed the in-laws with this, it earned me big bonus points!

    Whenever we go to the local Indian we always order Murgh Makhani and Kadhai chicken, however when we went the other day, the other half turned to me and said, “I’m not enjoying this as much as I enjoy yours!”

    So more bonus points!

    Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  20. Kathy Lowery says

    This looks great, going to make it this week! I love your butter chicken so I am sure I will love this as well.

  21. Merrie Myrick says

    Looks yummy! I just ordered some Ghee from Amazon, although will have to pick up some of the other ingredients. I’m learning to enjoy cooking again! 🙂

  22. Janis Powers says

    Your recipes always look so good and I love to cook. If I win I’d like the color if the wok to be Marseille (sp?) Thank you.

  23. Brandy Robinson says

    I’m really looking forward to trying this tonight for dinner! We can’t use ghee so I’ll try coconut oil… I hope that works!

  24. christilynn says

    That looks fabulous! I do not own any lecreuset but have a lot on my wish list but wow, did not even know they made a wok! I would love it as stirfry’s are something I make often but just in my cast iron skillet and this would make it more fun and picture worthy!

  25. Susan M. says

    I’ve only had Kadai chicken back in the days when I used to but this one brand of jarred Kadai sauce. I’ve never had the homecooked version so I’m eager to try this and I have most of the ingredients in my spice collection already! Thanks for the delicious-sounding recipe and for offering this giveaway!

  26. Carol Ann Rowland says

    Wow, having now eaten this kadai, I had to come back and say it’s so delicious! I’ve never had kadai before so don’t have prior experience to compare it to but am surprised to realize I think I like this even better than butter chicken, which has always been a favourite of mine.

    It’s definitely restaurant quality, very easy to make, and I love that it has entirely fresh ingredients. I’ll definitely be making this for company sometime!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Carol, that is awesome – I’m so glad you liked the recipe! I love butter chicken but there are so many other Indian dishes that I like just as much if not more. You’ll have to try my achari kebab when I post that in a week or so – I think you’ll love it. It’s one of my all-time favs. Thanks for leaving me a comment 🙂

  27. Carol Ann Rowland says

    I don’t know if I am too late for the contest but I have this on my stove *right now* and it smells fantastic. Your paleo naan is in a frying pan beside it.

    Would love to win a green crueset wok! My wok is old and has no lid, am making do. 🙂

  28. Sneha Koorse says

    Love all your recipes! I make your paleo naan every week. Can’t wait to try this one.

    And I would love the blue wok!

  29. Samantha says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe…this looks like something my whole family will enjoy and it’s got all my favorite spices in it.

  30. joanna says

    chicken thighs are my favorite part of the chicken. i’m sure i’d love this!! i’m not much of a spicy person so i’d leave out the hot peppers!

  31. k marie says

    This is a wonderful give-away – who ever wins is going to have an amazing kitchen tool and so many great recipes from you to try in it!! Cheery color pretty please! LOL

  32. Thalia M says

    I think I’d make this in 2 batches: half mild for me and half spicy for my hubby and then serve it over rice. Looks great.

  33. Nina says

    Need to try this recipe very soon. Turmeric is so healthy. So good for you.love recipes that contain Turmeric…

  34. Kristin says

    This looks yummy! I’m always on the lookout for new chicken recipes. And I love the green wok! I have a couple of bright green Le Creuset pieces so this would fit right in.

  35. Julie says

    I am always looking for recipes to share with my nutritional therapt clients! So excited to try this and pass it along. 🙂

  36. Cait C says

    We are always looking for good Indian food recipes that fit my diet needs. I cannot wait to try this one!!

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