Chicken Shorba – The Classic Pakistani Chicken Curry

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Chicken Shorba is just another type of chicken curry in Pakistani cuisine. Unlike chicken karahi that is slightly dry with little gravy in it, chicken shorba is a curry with soup-like gravy.

A round bowl of chicken shorba - the Pakistani style chicken curry with soup.

This chicken shorba is one chicken curry dish you want to make for that curry night treat. It’s flavourful. And its gravy is simply delicious to mix with rice or to mop with chapati or naan bread.

Chicken Shorba Is Chicken Curry

Chicken Shorba is just another type of chicken curry in Pakistani cuisine. This one has a soup-like gravy, unlike chicken karahi, which is slightly dry with little gravy. 

The word shorba itself means soup which comes from the Arabic word Shurba. It basically refers to the gravy with a runny consistency. Just like soup. Hence, this curry is called chicken shorba.

Pakistani chicken shorba in a round bowl.

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Because of its gravy consistency, this chicken curry is best eaten with rice. And even more so with the rice that is not spicy and almost spice-less in flavor. 

You can choose either plain basmati rice, pilau rice, or Matar Chawal (rice with green peas). 

Having said that though, the dish is often paired with spiced biryani rice as well. Especially for special occasions, celebrations, or parties.

Feel free to choose whatever rice dish you like. 

Also, don’t stop the foodie adventure within you at this limit though. Surely, you can enjoy the curry with chapati, pitta bread, or naan bread if that appeals to you. I do that every so often. It’s a matter of preference, really.

Ordinary Ingredients

You don’t really need anything special to make this chicken shorba. 

If you already cook curries or Pakistani foods anyway, chances are you have all the ingredients you need at home. Well, apart from the chicken maybe. 

So, you will need chicken, spices, tomatoes, and cooking oil. 

When it comes to chicken, you can use any type of chicken pieces. But to make the soup more flavorsome, chicken with bones is the best option for this dish. Because the goodness of the bone will make the gravy taste savory and tasty. I often just use baby chicken and cut it into small pieces.

For spices, you need brown onion, ginger, garlic, whole cumin seeds, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder (I usually use Kashmiri red chili powder), and ground black pepper.

Now, for tomatoes, you can use fresh tomatoes. And you only need about 2 medium tomatoes that you chop into small pieces. But, if you’re like me who often uses canned chopped tomatoes, you can use tinned tomatoes. Half of the can of 400 gr/ 0.88 lbs tinned tomato will be enough for this recipe. Roughly about ½ -¾ cup.

As for cooking oil, I tend to use either rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. So you’re more than welcome to use any neutral cooking oil of your choice.

How To Make Delicious Chicken Shorba

Firstly, you make the masala (spice sauce) and then cook the chicken in it.

So, you fry the chopped onion and whole cumin seeds until the onion turns light golden in color. Then, you add in the minced ginger and garlic, followed by the rest of the spices. 

Let it fry for a minute or two until the spices release a delicious aroma. Next, put the chopped tomatoes in and continue cooking at medium-low heat. 

a photo collage of making chicken shorba.

Take care, and keep checking your masala. Mash the tomatoes every now and again, so you will get a nice smooth masala sauce. 

Once you’re happy with your sauce texture, put the chicken pieces in it. Toss and stir until all the poultry pieces are coated well with the masala. Then let it cook with the pan lid on at moderate-low heat.

When the chicken pieces look opaque and seem they are just cooked through, add some water and give it a good stir. Put the lid back on and continue cooking until the soup is simmering, and the chicken is tender. It takes approximately 30 minutes for me to do so. 

Top Tips For Mouthwatering Pakistani Chicken Curry With Gravy

  • The key to deliciously rich chicken shorba lies in the masala. You have to make sure the masala sauce is nicely thick and smooth without any lumps of tomatoes. Feel free to add more water to help soften the tomatoes quicker. But don’t forget to keep mashing them until they all emulsify with the spices into a smooth sauce. I often use tinned/canned tomatoes. Here, in the UK there are two types of tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and plum tomatoes. I prefer using canned chopped tomatoes. If you like to use fresh tomatoes, you can do so but you may have to add a little more water to soften them. You also have to cook longer and mash them more so they will be ever so smooth. If you want it quicker, why don’t you blend the tomato with a blender or whizz it in a food chopper before you add it to the spice mixture?
  • Try to use Kashmiri red chili powder because it has a vibrant red color but with a mild flavor of chili heat. 
Chicken curry with soup in Pakistani style.

Storing Matter

Once this chicken curry is completely cooled down, you can store it in a food container and keep it in the refrigerator for about a week. Or, you can freeze it for about two months.

When serving, ensure you thaw fully and reheat it properly until it reboils again. 

More Ideas For Pakistani Chicken Recipes

Thank you for checking this chicken shorba recipe. I hope you will try it out. When you do, it will be great if you can share what you think about it in the comments below.

And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Before you go, don’t forget to check my other Pakistani chicken recipes that you may like.

Thank you, and all the best.

Chicken Shorba Recipe

A round bowl of chicken shorba - the Pakistani style chicken curry with soup.
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4.96 from 24 votes

Chicken Shorba – The Classic Pakistani Chicken Curry

Chicken Shorba is just another type of chicken curry in Pakistani cuisine. Unlike chicken karahi that is slightly dry with little gravy in it, chicken shorba is a curry with soup-like gravy.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Pakistani
Servings: 6 portions

Equipment

  • Cooking pan with lid.
  • Wooden spoon
  • Kitchen knife
  • Chopping board

Ingredients

  • 1 baby chicken approximately 1.3 – 1.7 lbs.
  • 1 medium brown onion chopped.
  • ½ inch ginger minced.
  • 4 garlic cloves minced.
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds.
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin.
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander.
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.
  • 1-2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder see the note.
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon salt or according to taste.
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped (see the note).
  • cup cooking oil see the note.
  • 3 cups water (see the note.

Instructions

  • Prep your chicken pieces and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a cooking pan at medium heat, and add in the chopped onion and whole cumin seeds. Fry until the onion turns slightly golden.
  • Put the minced ginger and garlic in the onion, and stir fry for a minute.
  • Then add in the rest of the spices, i.e. cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, ground black pepper, and salt. Stir fry further until the spices release aroma. Take care not to let the spices burn. 
  • Next, put the chopped tomatoes in the spices. Cook until the tomatoes become soft. Mash them with the back of a wooden spoon until they mix with the spices and turn to a thick sauce. You can add ½ cup of water little by little if the spice mix gets too dry. And cook it with the pan lid on to quicken the process. 
  • Once your spice masala turns nicely smooth, add the chicken pieces in, and toss around. So the poultry is covered with the sauce. 
  • Leave it to cook at low heat with a lid on until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Then add the rest of the water and continue cooking until the chicken is tender. Take care and keep stirring every now and again to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan.
  • When the oil separates at the edges, your chicken shorba is ready. Serve it with chopped coriander leaves if you like and enjoy it with either rice or naan bread. 

Notes

  • Kashmiri red chili powder gives a more vibrant red color with a mild and sweet note in its heat. If it is not available to you, you can put equal amounts of ordinary red chili powder and paprika powder. This can give a similar color and flavor to Kashmiri red chili powder.
  • I often use tinned chopped tomatoes because they are more readily available in my pantry. 
  • If you like, you can whizz the tomatoes with a blender or food chopper until it is smooth before you cook them in the spice. This way, your masala will be smooth quickly.  

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 468mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

Disclaimer

Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

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10 Comments

  1. Made this tonight with chicken thighs – wonderfully tender chicken with low key spicing. Had it with Matar Chawal left over from last night and a chopped relish. A very satisfying combination!

    1. I’m so happy that you like this chicken shorba. And you made a good combination there. Well done.

  2. Susan St John says:

    5 stars
    This has become a ‘fixture’ since the first time I made it. It features every week and is always delicious. A great discovery!

  3. Absolutely love it added more chillies just to spice it up a bit.. Definitely a winner

    1. Yeeeaahh. I’m so glad that you love it. High five.

  4. Mateen Ahmed says:

    Very Tasty, keep it up with more n more like Hareesa

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you like it.

  5. its really great! sometimes we add potatoes in this chicken shorba too.

    1. Oh yes, definitely you can put potatoes in chicken shorba. Glad you like it.

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