Chicken Kadhai: Rustic, North-Indian, One-Pot Chicken Curry
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Chicken Kadhai roughly translates to chicken prepared in a kadhai. This dish originates from the North-western parts of erstwhile undivided India and it is a spicy chicken     stir fry dish that is made in a rustic fashion. And what we mean by rustic, is that one doesn't necessarily need to extensively prepare the mise en place for this dish. 

People usually throw in the vegetables whole and break it down in the heat of the kadhai. This is where one certainly needs to implore the services of a heavy-duty steel or iron kadhai or wok because the entire dish is dependent on breaking down the meat and vegetables in the heat of the pan. 

Using ceramic or non-stick cookware is highly unrecommended. This dish can also be made from lamb or goat meat but for the purposes of this recipe, we've stuck with chicken because it is quicker to cook over a stovetop than the other red meat varieties. The dish, in practice, does not involve the use of onions at all, just lots of tomatoes and chillies to form the base of the semi-dry gravy. But you're the master of your own kitchen, so if you're keen on adding onion to balance the spiciness of this dish, you're most welcome to do so. You can even chop the tomatoes to quicken the cooking process. 


It takes a kadhai full of chicken to cook for 40-50 minutes so, rest assured, you'll have your shoulder workout done for the day. This dish is one of the hallmarks of South Asian cuisine and a reminder to the people between the two neighbouring countries, that we aren't so different after all. 


  • ½ cup oil or ghee 
  • 500g chicken, bone in and cut into curry pieces 
  • 6-7 tomatoes, roughly chopped 
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced 
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste 
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder 
  • 1½ tsp crushed black pepper 
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • ½ tsp cumin powder 
  • ½ tsp coriander powder 
  • 1 tsp kalonji, optional 
  • 7-8 green chillies, slit in half
  • 15-20 sprigs of coriander, chopped 
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, julienned 

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-Heat up your oil in a kadhai , wok, cast iron skillet or any pan suitable for stir frying, keeping the flame on high for the entire duration. 

-Add the chicken in. Fry this, stirring constantly until the chicken begins to take on a golden colour in some places. 

-Add in the minced ginger and garlic. Give this a fry alongside the chicken, stirring constantly and making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Continue to fry until the raw smell of the ginger and garlic begins to fade. 

-Add all the chopped tomatoes and spices. Stir in and allow this all to cook on high, stirring to ensuring nothing burns. 

-Continue to cook this mix for about 25 minutes. The oil will separate, the tomatoes will thicken and begin to coat the chicken, and you will see holes begin to bubble in the gravy. The chicken should be cooked through at this point. 

-Add the coriander and green chillies, stir in, turn the heat down to a low flame and allow everything to simmer together for 5 minutes without putting the lid on. 

Serve with the julienned ginger and additional coriander/green chilli if desired.