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Recipe |Chicken Karahi and the Iftar Meal

A dish of chicken karahi
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2 minute read

For the past several weeks, Dr. Hibba Haider has awakened before dawn to have a small meal that will sustain her until sunset. Haider is fasting for Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which runs through July 5. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, meant to both provide spiritual clarity and raise one’s social consciousness.

Each night, Haider breaks the fast with an evening meal known as Iftar. Recently, she invited us into her kitchen to prepare the centerpiece of the Iftar in her home: Chicken Karahi. 

Chicken Karahi

Chicken Karahi is a traditional dish from Pakistan. This recipe will serve two to four people. 


1 pound skinless chicken, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons red chili, divided

1 teaspoon turmeric powder, divided

2 teaspoons crushed dry coriander, divided

2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

1/4 cup Canola oil

3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons ginger, finely sliced

2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons ginger paste

4 to 5 small green chiles, sliced in half

1 bunch cilantro, chopped and divided

Naan bread

Cooking Directions

Cut the chicken into two-inch pieces. Rub the chicken with 1 teaspoon red chili, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon crushed dry coriander and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Place the chicken in a covered bowl and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Heat the oil in a wok on medium high and add the chopped tomatoes, salt, 1 teaspoon red chili and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom. When the tomatoes begin to thicken, add the garlic, ginger, and garlic paste. Cook for another two minutes, then add 1 teaspoon crushed coriander and 1 teaspoon cumin. Stir until the spices are evenly mixed in the wok. Next add the chicken and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sliced green chiles and half the bunch of fresh cilantro and stir well.

Lower the heat to medium. Cover the wok with a lid and cook for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken every few minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should read 165° F). Garnish with sliced ginger, green chiles or cilantro. Serve with naan.

Interfaith Iftar

In the video above, Haider shows how Chicken Karahi is made. That chicken is the main dish in the Iftar meal that she recently shared with family and community members. The second part of this story — the breaking of naan as part of an interfaith dinner and discussion — can be watched below.

Beyond Belief is a KCPT and Hale Center for Journalism project featuring a series of stories and discussions about faith and the different faith traditions in our diverse city. The project is part of Localore: Finding America, created by AIR, a Boston-based network of independent public media producers. Principle funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Learn more about “Beyond Belief” here.


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