Authentic Charsi Karahi (Peshawari Street Style)

Charsi Karahi is a traditional Pakistani dish that is famous in northern areas of Pakistan. It is a dish from the City of Peshawar. Charsi chicken karahi is famous not only for its intense flavors but also for its association with the vibrant culinary culture of Peshawar and its surrounding areas. 

Peshawari charsi chicken karahi is more than just a meal—it’s a celebration of tradition, culture, and the joy of sharing food with loved ones.

The Charsi Chicken Karahi recipe is so simple to make, with just a few ingredients and easy instructions. This iconic recipe has been passed down through generations, each household adding its unique touch to the dish.

Chicken is traditionally cooked in a cast-iron Karahi (wok), with spicy tomato-based gravy, infused with a blend of traditional Pakistani spices. 

You can also try our more related recipes like Pakistani Rice PulaoMutton Handi Recipe, and Pakistani Butter Chicken Recipe


Charsi Karahi is a traditional Pakistani dish that features tender pieces of chicken cooked in spicy tomato-based gravy. The term “Charsi” originates from the Pashto language and roughly translates to “drug addict” or “hashish smoker.” While the origin of the name is uncertain, some believe it refers to the addictive flavor and aroma of the dish, likening it to a drug-like experience for food enthusiasts.

This popular dish is typically prepared in a special cooking vessel called a karahi, which is a type of deep, thick-bottomed wok commonly used in South Asian cooking. Charsi Karahi is cooked on high flame and is often enjoyed with naan bread or steamed rice.


  1. Chicken:  You will need 1 kg of Tender pieces of chicken to form the heart of this dish, providing protein and flavor.
  2. Tomatoes:  You will need 8-10 medium-sized whole Fresh tomatoes to create the base of the spicy gravy, adding tanginess and richness.
  3. Green Chilies: You will need 4-5  slit green chilies to add heat and a pop of color to the Charsi Karahi, balancing the richness of the sauce.
  4. Oil: You will need 2 cups of Oil for cooking and sautéing the ingredients. Peshawari Charsi Karahi typically requires 2-3 cups of oil for flavor enhancement, texture, and traditional cooking methods. After cooking, about 1 cup of oil is often removed to balance flavors and prevent the dish from being overly greasy while retaining its authentic taste.
  5. Ginger Garlic Paste: You will need 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste. A blend of ginger and garlic adds depth and aroma to the dish, infusing it with rich flavors.
  6. Crushed Black Pepper: You will need 1 tbsp of freshly crushed black pepper. I usually use a grinder or a mortar and pestle to freshly grind the black pepper. Freshly crushed black pepper is preferred for Charsi Karahi over ground pepper because it offers a more robust flavor.
  7. Salt: You will need Salt that enhances the flavors of the dish and balances the spices, ensuring a well-seasoned Charsi Karahi.
  8. Fresh Coriander Leaves and Ginger: You will need Fresh coriander leaves and Julien ginger to garnish the dish.


Step 1: Stir Fry The Chicken

To begin making charsi chicken karhai start by heating 2 cups of oil in a karahi or deep skillet over medium heat.

Once the oil is hot, add some salt (about 1-2 teaspoons)to the pan. Now add the chicken pieces to the karahi. Carefully add the chicken pieces to the karahi. Be cautious as the oil may splatter.

Add ginger garlic paste to the chicken and stir the chicken to prevent sticking and fry. Continue frying the chicken over high heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn light brown. This may take around 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces and the heat of your stove.

When the chicken turns light brown, remove 1 cups of oil from the pan, leaving 1 cup of oil in the pan.

Step 2: Add Whole Tomatoes

Carefully add 8-10 tomatoes to the pan, and distribute them evenly among the chicken pieces. Use a spatula to gently stir the tomatoes with the chicken.

Allow the tomatoes to cook with the chicken on high flame, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and release their juices. This process usually takes about 5-7 minutes.

Once the tomatoes have softened and their skins begin to wrinkle, use a fork or tongs to carefully remove the skins from the tomatoes. The skins should easily peel off due to the heat and moisture from the cooking process.

Discard the tomato skins as they are no longer needed in the dish. Make sure that the tomatoes are turned to paste and are properly integrated in the karahi.

Allow the chicken to cook until it’s tender and fully cooked through, absorbing all the delicious flavors of the masala.

Step 3: Add Green Chilies and Crushed Black Pepper

Now, it’s time to build the spicy base of the Charsi Karahi. Add slit green chilies, and crushed black pepper. These spices work together to create a rich and aromatic gravy that will coat the chicken pieces beautifully. Cook until the oil starts to separate from the masala, indicating that karahi is ready to serve.

Step 4: Simmer and Serve

Once ready, garnish the Charsi Karahi with fresh coriander leaves and ginger for a pop of color and freshness. Serve the hot and spicy Charsi Karahi with naan bread or steamed rice and a side salad.


  1. Karahi or Deep Skillet: A traditional karahi or a deep skillet is essential for cooking Charsi Karahi. Its wide base and deep sides provide ample space for sautéing and simmering the ingredients.
  2. Cooking Spoon: A sturdy cooking spoon or spatula is needed for stirring and mixing the ingredients in the karahi, ensuring they cook evenly and don’t stick to the bottom.
  3. Knife and Cutting Board: You’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board for chopping onions, tomatoes, and any other ingredients required for the recipe.
  4. Stove or Cooktop: A stove or cooktop is necessary for heating the karahi and cooking the Charsi Karahi dish.


  1. Vegetarian Option: For a vegetarian version of Charsi Karahi, substitute the chicken with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu. Follow the same recipe steps, adjusting cooking times as needed for the vegetarian protein to absorb the flavors.
  2. Beef or Lamb: While chicken is traditionally used in Charsi Karahi, you can experiment with beef or lamb for a richer and heartier version of the dish.
  3. Creamy Variation: For a creamy and indulgent twist, add a splash of heavy cream or yogurt to the karahi along with the chicken. The creamy addition adds richness to the dish.
  4. Vegetable Medley: Incorporate a variety of vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas to create a colorful and nutritious vegetable medley karahi.


  • For even more flavor, marinate the chicken in a mixture of yogurt, ginger garlic paste, and spices for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Use fresh, ripe tomatoes for the best flavor in the spicy gravy.
  • For the most tender and flavorful chicken, allow the dish to simmer on low heat for a longer period of time.
  • Finish off your Charsi Karahi with a generous sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander leaves.
  • Allow the Charsi Karahi to rest for a few minutes before serving.


Leftover Charsi Karahi can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.


Charsi Karahi pairs perfectly with freshly baked naan bread. Tear off a piece of warm naan and use it to scoop up the flavorful chicken and gravy. Serve Charsi Karahi with steamed rice for a classic and satisfying meal.

For a lighter alternative to naan, serve Charsi Karahi with roti or chapati. Balance out the richness of Charsi Karahi with a simple side salad of crisp lettuce, cucumber, and tomato. Add a tangy and refreshing element to your meal by serving pickled vegetables or green chutney on the side.


Can I use boneless chicken for Charsi Karahi?

Yes, boneless chicken works well for Charsi Karahi. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as boneless chicken tends to cook faster than bone-in pieces.

Can I freeze leftover Charsi Karahi?

While Charsi Karahi is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze leftover portions for later use. Store the cooled karahi in an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Is it necessary to use a karahi for this recipe, or can I use a regular skillet?

While a traditional karahi adds authenticity to the dish, you can use a regular deep skillet or saucepan if you don’t have one. Just ensure the skillet has enough space to accommodate all the ingredients.

How spicy is Charsi Karahi?

The spiciness of Charsi Karahi can vary depending on personal preference and the amount of chili powder and green chilies used. You can adjust the spice level to suit your taste by adding more or less chili powder and green chilies.

Can I make Charsi Karahi in advance for a party or gathering?

Yes, you can prepare Charsi Karahi in advance and reheat it before serving. The flavors tend to develop even further as the dish sits, making it an ideal make-ahead option for gatherings.

Charsi Karahi

Experience the bold and aromatic flavors of Pakistani cuisine with this authentic Charsi Karahi recipe. Tender chicken cooked in a spicy tomato-based gravy, infused with a blend of traditional spices, creates a dish that's sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 350 kcal


  • Karahi or deep skillet
  • Cooking spoon
  • Knife and cutting board


  • chicken, cut into pieces
  • tomatoes, finely chopped
  • onions, thinly sliced
  • green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • oil
  • ginger garlic paste
  • red chili powder
  • turmeric powder
  • coriander powder
  • Fresh coriander


  • Step 1: Sauté Onions
    Heat oil in a karahi over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onions and sauté until golden brown
  • Step 2: Add Aromatics
    Stir in ginger garlic paste and sauté for about a minute.
  • Step 3: Prepare the Spicy Base
    Add chopped tomatoes, green chilies, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and salt. Cook until tomatoes are soft and oil separates from the masala.
  • Step 4: Cook the Chicken
    Add chicken pieces and cook on high heat until well-coated with masala and slightly browned. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender
  • Step 5: Simmer and Serve
    Once the chicken is tender and fully cooked, remove the karahi from the heat. Allow the Charsi Karahi to rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves for a pop of color and freshness. Serve hot with your choice of naan bread, roti, or steamed rice for a satisfying and flavorful meal. Enjoy!


  • Adjust spice levels to taste.
  • Use fresh ingredients for best results.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving):
  • Calories: 350 kcal
  • Total Fat: 20g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 120mg
  • Sodium: 800mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 30g


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