Saturday 31 January 2015

Chicken Karahi - a divine Middle Eastern meal

Given how much I've discovered that I love cooking Middle Eastern flavours, it struck me that I've not been to many restaurants to try some authentic meals.  We went to a local restaurant which specialises in Afghani food but includes a few recipes from some other middle eastern countries and I was. In. Love.  There was literally no one else there which was both odd and a shame, and there were no visible wait staff so we had to say "hello?" loudly a couple of times to get the attention of the waitress.

We ordered a Bulani  (a beautiful savory potato pastry with herbs and spices) to share as our entre and I want to learn to make it.  Then we shared a tekka kebab meal (zomg the spices blew me away - I have yet to figure out what they were) and a Chicken Karahi. (NB - Karahi, not Koshari - these are very different recipes).

Karahi was soooo good.  Now to make it for real you need to use a bunch of ghee (clarified butter) and given that I am trying to lose weight for my wedding I was keen to find out if I could make a tasty version of this without all of the excess fat.  The restaurant we visited served it with eggs on top, but none of the recipes online that I have encountered do so.  I wanted to try to re-create our restaurant meal, so I've included them for funs :)

Here is what I came up with after much research. And Zomg. Yum. Messy fun, like my Spiced Lamb with Quinoa Tabbouli recipe.  Gotta say I love a share-meal with pita bread.  There's something bonding about the experience of eating together this way. Yum yum yum.


  • 4 chicken thighs, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 200g punnet of perino/grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 1 red and 1 green chilli, chopped julienne
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped into strips
  • 1/2 cup water with 1 heaped tsp of good quality chicken stock powder
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (I know - it sounds weird - but trust me on this one.  Oh and I must insist that you use a quality OJ because a cheap nasty fruit drink could spoil the flavours).
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 wholemeal pita breads, each sliced in 4
  • Half of my recipe for Karahi Paste (save the rest in the fridge to use in something else in the next week or so!)

Serves 4

Potential Spins

Switch the chicken for lamb or beef to change the flavours.  Or for a vegetarian option, use tofu or halved or quatered and shelled boiled eggs (skip the eggs on top if you use boiled eggs instead of meat).  Add yoghurt to the mix after removing from the oven, or dollop on top.  For something completely different, leave out the eggs, don't reduce it as much and serve on rice as a curry with yoghurt and/or coriander leaves on top and ditch the pita bread.  Alternatively, follow my recipe and pour a couple of tablespoons of ghee over the dish just before putting it in the oven for a more traditional version.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/356 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together spice paste ingredients.
  3. Cook onion and chillies until onions are translucent in a large fry pan which can transfer to the oven.
  4. Meanwhile seal chicken on all sides in another fry pan, remove from heat.
  5. Pour spice mix over cooked onion and stir until fragrant.  Cover with stock, tomatoes, orange juice.  Return chicken to the pan, stir through and add the cinnamon stick.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer on medium for 30 minutes, or until it is reduced significantly.  This dish shouldn't be too saucey.  Stir occasionally and adjust the time for your oven - they are all a little different.  
    This is how it should look before going in the oven.  If you are using it as a curry over rice rather than as per the rest of this recipe, then just stop here.
  6. Crack eggs onto the top of the dish, transfer to the oven for 10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked.  We cooked enough mix for 4, but served it for 2 over 2 nights.  So we transferred half into a smaller oven-friendly fry pan and cracked two eggs into it.  If you are cooking for 4, then just crack 4 eggs over the big fry pan.  If you don't have an oven friendly fry pan, then use a pie dish or casuelas or any other oven friendly receptacle. 
    Ready for the oven!
  7. Slide the cooked dish onto a pie dish if you have one using your spatula, or else just onto a plate, so that the dish is not too hot to touch. 
  8.  Serve with pita bread portions.  Eat by breaking the yolks and scooping the mix onto the pita bread.  So delicious.
    The Dragon thinks it looks a bit like a ghost :)

    Egg is mildly overcooked because I left it in for 15 mins instead of 10.  Still good though!

Our Take Aways

My original recipe used about twice as many spices as needed.  So in the end we only used half and I adjusted the recipe accordingly (with the exception of garlic because there is no such thing as too much garlic) and topped it with oil in a jar to use for another meal.  

The cooking process?  The whole unit smelled like heaven while it was cooking.  Our friend and roomie even came out to ask how it was going because he could smell the spices.  We also used double the amount of water and OJ so had to spend so. much. time. reducing it.  If you want this to be a curry over rice, then double the liquids as we did and cook for about 30ish minutes on the stove top and it would be ready to serve over rice.

The flavour? I loved it.  You want it saucey but not too runny.  I loved the mix of beautiful flavours. We found that we were using forks after we finished our one pita bread each, but that was OK.  The shared plate experience is always fun.  We will definitely make this again.  It would make for a good entertaining meal.  

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