Chicken Shorba – The Classic Pakistani Chicken Curry

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

Chicken Shorba Is 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. 

Mind you, the word shorba itself means soup which derives from the Arabic word Shurba. It basically refers to the gravy with a runny consistency. Just like soup. 

Pakistani chicken shorba in a round bowl.

And this chicken curry is best eaten with rice. And even more so with the rice that is not spicy and almost spice-less in flavour. 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 or parties.

Feel free to choose whatever rice dish you like. Also, you can even enjoy it with chapati, pitta bread or naan bread. 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 piece. But to make the soup more flavoursome, chicken with bones is the best option for this dish. I often just use baby chicken and cut it into small pieces.

For spices, you need brown onion, ginger, garlic, whole cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (I usually use Kashmiri red chilli 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, half of the can will be enough for this recipe. 

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

a photo collage of making chicken shorba.

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

So, you fry the chopped onion and whole cumin seeds until the onion turns light golden in colour. 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, you put the chopped tomatoes in and continue cooking at medium-low heat. 

Take care and keep checking your masala. And 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 in and give it a good stir. Put the lid back on and continue cooking until the soup is bubbling and the chicken is tender. It takes approximately 30 minutes for me to do so. 

Chicken curry with soup in Pakistani style.

Top Tips For Mouthwatering Pakistani Chicken Curry With Gravy

  • The key of 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 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. And you also have to cook longer and mash them more so they will be ever so smooth. 
  • Try to use Kashmiri red chilli powder as it has a vibrant red colour with mild flavour of chilli heat. 

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. 

Related 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 recipes that you may like.

Thank you and all the best.

Yield: 6 portions

Chicken Shorba - The Classic Pakistani Chicken Curry

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

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.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 baby chicken, approximately 600-800 gr, cut into small pieces.
  • 1 medium brown onion, chopped.
  • ½ inch ginger, minced.
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced.
  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds.
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander.
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder.
  • 1-2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder (see the note).
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper.
  • 1 tsp salt or according to taste.
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (see the note).
  • ⅓ cup/ 80 ml/ 2.71 fl.oz cooking oil ( see the note).
  • 3 cups/ 750 ml/ 25.36 fl.oz water (see the note.


  1. Prep your chicken pieces and set them aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a cooking pan at medium heat, add in the chopped onion and whole cumin seeds. Fry until the onion turns slightly golden.
  3. Put the minced ginger and garlic in the onion, stir fry for a minute.
  4. Then add in the rest of the spices, i.e. ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ground black pepper and salt. Stir fry further until the spices release aroma. Take care not to let the spices burn. 
  5. 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 into 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. 
  6. Once your spice masala turns nicely smooth, add the chicken pieces in and toss them around so the poultry is covered with the sauce. 
  7. Leave it to cook at low heat with the 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 the burning at the bottom of the pan.
  8. 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. 


  • Kashmiri red chilli powder gives a more vibrant red colour with a mild and sweet note in its heat. If it is not available to you, ordinary red chilli powder and paprika powder at equal amounts can give a similar colour and flavour. 
  • I often use tinned chopped tomatoes as they are more readily available more often in my pantry. 

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 112Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 13mgSodium 468mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 4g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

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

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