The people of Pakistan and North India are no stranger to this royal dish called chicken karahi. For those who are unfamiliar with the dish can benefit from its etymology. The word karahi means an iron wok that is quite similar in appearance and function to a Chinese wok. However, the pot used to stir fry ingredients in Pakistan is a little rounder and have a flatter bottom. The chicken is the heart of the dish which is flavored with traditional spices and freshly chopped vegetables.
Origins and History
Although the dish is popular in all parts of the world now, it has its roots from the north western frontier provinces of Pakistan now called Khyber Pakhtunkhuwan. It is not wrong to say that this method of quick frying meat was the best way to preserve it for a longer duration. The people of KPK are from the descendants of Aryans. It seems that after the Mughals who hailed from Afghanistan dominated the Indian territories they made the dish their own.
India has always been a famous around the world for its exotic spices and aromatic herbs. Chicken Karahai in modern times has transformed into a comfort food. It is also served at various fine dining resturants who showcase Pakistani and Indian cuisine. When a new amazing food recipe is introduced into the world it is transformed and edited while traveling from one chef to another.
The same can be said about this particular dish. There are many versions depending on the place and the region that it is being prepared for. Those who are unfamiliar with spicy foods would have no worries about feeling the extreme chili or spice burns as it is served with a side of yogurt sauce and fresh salad. However, those who seek the thrill of high spice can also add the heat with some freshly chopped green chilies as garnish.
Variations and Key ingredients
Despite having so many variations the core recipe of the dish remains the same. Sometimes, the main ingredient chicken is replaced by fish, meat, or mutton. When this happens adding the word karahi before the type of meat used in the dish would suffice the correct description. There is a common misconception that the dish can be consumed directly. Like other stews in Pakistan the dish is served with freshly baked pita bread also called naan.
The preparation time for the dish is fairly short, it takes somewhere from 30-50 minutes to prepare the entire meal. With 1 Kg of Chicken it is possible to serve as many as 6-7 people. There are some places where the chefs like to make the dish more appealing for foreign pallet and add some cream or fresh yogurt to bring down the spice levels. There are also many regions who famously add a massive amount of caramelized onions to make more stew for the stir fry.
In North India some chefs also add capsicum and large cube of red curry onion. However, this is not the case for every serving. Another popular way of serving the dish is with freshly cooked Basmati rice. This dish can also be seen served in parties, weddings, and other social gathering events in Pakistan. One key ingredient for the dish is the julienned ginger that is served raw as a topping. The true connoisseurs of the dish cannot imagine having chicken Karachi without the ginger and chopped green chilies.
To cook the dish everyday items that are present in any Pakistani or Indian household kitchen are required. The use of cayenne pepper powder and other aromatic herbs such as cumin, coriander seeds, and Garam masala is also added as required or as per the tolerance levels of the eaters. The foreigners who come to visit Pakistan and India often went on a search for finding authentic recipes. There are many well-known restaurants that have risen to fame in the region for serving their signature version of Chicken Karahi.