Glasgow-based food writer and cookery teacher Sumayya Usmani draws on her childhood in Pakistan for her inspiring recipe for Karhai ginger chicken

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On the days I was greeted with the hot citrus tang of fresh ginger from my grandmother’s garden as it was sliced artfully into julienne pieces, I knew I was getting Pakistani-style ginger chicken for supper. This is a dish found in every restaurant and home in Pakistan and it is simple and quick to make, with bursts of raw ginger added at the end for a fresh finish. Serve with a daal and rice – and you can substitute chicken with boneless duck or turkey for a fuller flavour.


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp each of garlic purée and grated ginger
  • 200g chicken breast cut into 5cm chunks
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5cm piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped


Karhai ginger chicken

1 Heat the oil in wok-style pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and allow to splutter for 30 seconds. Add the garlic purée and grated ginger and fry for a further 30 seconds, or until the smell of raw garlic disappears.

2 Add the chicken to the pan and fry until it is sealed all over. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened, then add the tomato purée and the yogurt and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the oil starts to separate. Add the red chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric and salt and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the butter before turning off the heat and letting the butter melt.

3 Before serving, add the julienned ginger, coriander, green chillies and mint, and stir through.

• Summers Under the Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln, £20

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