Kadai chicken

 Kadai chicken (murgh karahi)

Kadai chicken is popular spicy chicken curry or gravy recipe made using a spice powder known as kadai masala powder. And it is cooked in a typical utensil called kadai. Below you can read the restaurant style kadai chicken recipe with step by steps photo and video.

Serving kadai chicken in a serving bowl with a lid

Kadai chicken or chicken karahi is one of  popular chicken gravy or curry ordered at restaurants. Thick creamy gravy with vegetables like capsicum and onion makes a truly unique and delicious chicken recipe.  This kadai chicken recipe is extremely easy to make at home and if you are looking for a restaurant style karahi chicken recipe then this is a perfect recipe you can go with without looking anywhere. Here I am bringing you the best restaurant style kadai chicken recipe with step by step guide with video.

What is kadai chicken ?

Kadai chicken, also often spelled as karahi chicken is derive its name from the kadai or karahi which is a type of deep, circular, and wok-like cooking vessel made of thick cast iron or stainless steel. The dish is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the northern regions like Punjab and Kashmir. The dish is characterized by the use of aromatic spices, tomatoes, onions, and capsicum (bell peppers) cooked in a thick, semi-dry gravy. The dish is often prepared in a kadai or karahi, which imparts a unique flavor to the final product. So due to this the dish often called as chicken karahi or kadai chicken. Another popular term for this is kadai murgh.  The main basic ingredients for kadai chicken is the masala powder known as kadai masala. This masala can be made at home easily or you can buy it commercially as kadai masala powder from any store or shop.

But it is good to prepare a homemade kadai masala powder for the best kadai chicken recipe.  The ingredients are easily available at your kitchen pantry like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and dry whole red chilly.  In kadai chicken or kadai paneer cubes of onion, tomato and capsicum are added in the gravy. You can saute them in high heat flame before adding into the gravy. Here in this restaurant style recipe i have not used the cube size onion, capsicum and tomato.Rather i have cut them into julienne shaped and added into the gravy. This will help to get them cook quickly.

Ingredients required to make the recipe

Chicken : This recipe goes well with bone in chicken pieces. Choice is yours go either with boneless or bone in chicken. I personally prefer chicken with bone to make it at home. And at restaurant it is with boneless chicken.

Whole Spices : Whole spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and dry red chilly are used to kadai masala powder. Others are bay leaf, green cardamom and cinnamon sticks.

Spice powder : Red chilli powder, garam masala powder and turmeric powder.

Onion : Two medium size finely chopped.

Tomato :  Two medium size finely chopped or pureed

Other vegetables : half cup of onion, capsicum and tomato cut into Julianne shapes.

Herbs : ginger garlic paste, green chilli and coriander leaves.

Other ingredients : Some cashew nuts, fresh cream, salt and cooking oil.

What is kadai masala?

Kadai masala is a special spice blend used in dishes like kadai chicken, kadai paneer, and various other vegetable and meat preparations cooked in a kadai (a type of Indian wok or pan). This spice mix gives these dishes their distinctive and aromatic flavour. Kadai masala adds a rich, earthy, and slightly spicy flavor to dishes prepared in a kadai. Whole spices like coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercon and dry red chilly are used to make this kadai masala.

How to serve kadai chicken ?

The best way to serve this chicken gravy is with roti or naan. At restaurant tandoori roti and butter naan are first choice to serve with it. And at home some homemade chapati or phulka are my favourite to have with kadai chicken. Rice can also pair well with it. A plain steam rice goes well with it. You can serve other flavoured rice like jeera rice, or pulao with it.

Steps to make the recipe

Prepare kadai masala

Kadai masala is a spicy and aromatic flavoured masala used to make dishes like kadai chicken and kadai paneer.

Whole spices like coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and dry red chilly are roasted on slow flame heat for 1 - 2 minutes or till aroma released from the spices.  Remove and make a coarse powder using a mixer grinder or blender.  

Roasting kadai masala and coarse powder

Coriander seeds and dry red chilly is the main ingredients for kadai masala. The flavour of coriander seeds is the most prominent in any kadai dishes.  Don't make a fine powder for kadai masala.

Tomato puree/ paste for the recipe

Roughly chopped the tomatoes and boil with enough water in a pod. Add one bay leaf, 2 green cardamom and a small cinnamon stick. To make the puree smooth add 5 -6 cashew nuts and boil till the tomatoes become soft and messy. Drain and discard the whole spices and grind into a fine paste. This is how you can make a restaurant style tomato gravy for kadai chicken. 

Tomato puree or gravy for kadai chicken recipe

Cooking kadai chicken

You can either use bone in chicken or boneless chicken to make kadai chicken. Both makes the dish delicious. I am using boneless chicken breast as my young boy prefer boneless chicken. Cut the chicken breast into bite size cubes. You can marinate them with salt, ginger garlic paste and chilli powder for 15 - 20 minutes.

Heat 2 teaspoon cooking oil in a kadai or a pan on medium heat flame. Add one dry red chilly and ginger garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell of ginger garlic paste goes. Then add chopped onions and fry untill they become ligh golden brown. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, salt and the above prepared kadai masala powder. Stir and cook for few seconds and then add the chicken pieces. Give them a nice mix with the masala and cook for 2 - 3 minutes without adding any water.

Frying onion, adding masala powder and mixing Chicken for kadai chicken recipe

Then pour the prepared tomato paste. Mix and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add julienne shaped onion, capsicum and tomato into the gravy.  You can use cubes of onion and capsicum instead of julienne. But at restaurant we prefer to use the julienne shaped capsicum, onion and tomato. Cook for further 2 minutes.

Pouring tomato puree and adding Julienne shaped onion, capsicum and tomato for kadai chicken recipe

Pour half cup water into the chicken gravy and cook until the chicken cooked completely. Then mix fresh cream and cook for one more minute. Sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander leaves and remove to serve.

Pouring water and fresh cream into kadai chicken with chopped coriander leaves

Tips to make best kadai chicken

1. Chicken gravy always yields best result when cooked with bone in chicken. So try to use bone in chicken pieces to make the recipe.

2. Marinate the chicken with ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, salt and little red chilly powder for 20 to 30 minutes. The chicken pieces will absorb all the flavours.

3.If using cubes of onion or capsicum then saute them first in high flame heat before adding into the gravy.Otherwise you can use finely sliced onion and capsicum.

4. Some people prefer to give kadai chicken a smoke flavour. You can use a charcoal with some ghee ti give it the smoke. I don't use it while making kadai chicken at home


Kadai chicken recipe video


Difference between kadai chicken and butter chicken

Bot are very popular dishes having some diffrences in term of their flavours, cooking method and ingredient uses. Below are some differences
  • Kadai chicken is traditionally cooked in a kadai with vegetables and spices but butter chicken is usually prepared by marinating the chicken with yogurt and spices, then cooked  in a tandoor or oven. The gravy or sauce of butter chicken is seperately prepared. The cooked chicken is then simmered in the gravy.
  • The gravy of butter chicken is tomato based. Cream, butter and sometime ground cashew are used to make the rich and silky gravy(sauce). Whereas kadai chicken gravy is tomato-onion based. It has a spiciness textute due to the use of  various spices, bell pepper and onion.
  • Butter chicken is garnished with cream and a sprinkle of crushed kasoori methi for added flavour and aroma. But kadai chicken is garnished with fresh coriander leaves and a sprinkle of kadai masala apowder.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I make kadai masala in advanced?

Yes kadai masala can be made in advanced and kept in a air tight jar for uoto 2 month. As most of the spices are dry roasted there is very little chance to get spoiled.

2. How much time chicken takes to cook in kadai ?

The cooking time for chicken in a kadai can vary on several factores including the size and shape of the chicken pieces, cooking temperature and the recipe. If you are using boneless chicken cubes it will take around 10-15 minutes to cook. Bone in chicken pieces may take longer time to cook, usually around 20-30 minutes or more.

3.Is kadai is spicy?

Kadai chicken is known for its bold and spicy flavours. Typically it is moderately spicy, you can adjust the spiciness by adding more chilli and spices.

If you love the recipe of kadai chicken then I am sure you would love the following recipes as well.

Kadai chicken recipe

Kadai chicken is a popular chicken curry recipe made with a freshly ground spice powder known as kadai masala powder. This is an easy kadai chicken recipe made from scratch. 

Prep time 15 min, cook time 15 min, serve 2

Author Mobasir hassan


  • 200 gm chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 7 to 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 whole red chilly
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 medium size onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 medium size tomato pureed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup julienne shape onion, tomato and capsicum
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt or as per taste
  • Few coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 green chili slits ( optional)
  • 5 - 6 cashew nuts
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

Making kadai masala
  1. Heat a non stick pan over slow flame heat and add the whole spices coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and 2 to 3 whole red chilly. Roast them for one minute by stirring constantly. Remove and make a coarse powder using a mixer grinder or blender 

Making tomato puree
  1. Roughly chopped the tomatoes and boil with a bay leaf, half inch cinnamon stick, 2 green cardamom and  4 - 5 cashew nuts for 6 - 7 minutes or till the tomatoes become soft and messy. Remove and discard whole spices and grind into a fine puree.

Making kadai chicken

  1. Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a kadai or pan on medium heat flame.  Add one red chilly whole and the ginger garlic paste. Cook  till the raw smell of ginger garlic paste goes off. Then add the chopped onions are fry till become light brown.
  2. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, salt and prepared kadai masala. Mix and cook the masala for few seconds. Then add the chicken pieces into the masala and mix well. Cook them for 3 - 4 minutes by stirring occasionally.
  1. Pour the tomato puree and mix well with the chicken pieces and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the julienne shaped onion, tomato and capsicum into the chicken gravy. Stir them to mix nicely and cook for more 2 minutes.
  2. Pour half cup of water into the gravy and cook further till the chicken pieces are well cooked. 
  3. Now add one teaspoon fresh cream with the chicken gravy. Mix and cook for one minute.
  4. Sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander leaves and remove the kadai chicken into a serving bowl to serve hot.

                        Nutritional value
                        (serving size 1 cup)
  • Calories : 256
  • Fats : 14 g
  • Protein : 25 g
  • Carbohydrate : 6 g
                         Serving tips
  • Kadai chicken is generally best to eat with Indian flat breads like tandoori roti, butter naan or paratha.
  • Homemade chapati or a plate of basmati rice is also good to serve along with kadai chicken.
                        Recipe notes
  • I have used the Julienne shaped onion and capsicum here in this recipe to give it a restaurant style flavour. Some other recipes may suggest to use cubes of onion and capsicum. You can go with your choice.
  • To make it more spicy use green chili paste. 
  • Cashew nuts are used to make the gravy more smooth. If you have any nuts allergy then skip it and use more cream.
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  • DesertRose
    DesertRose April 6, 2021 at 8:02 PM

    Hi! Just came across your site while looking for a honey chilli potato recipe. I ended up in going through many more other recipes too. Looking forward to trying few out. Loved your style of writing. You make even exotic dishes look so simple.

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