Kadai paneer is a famous Indian paneer recipe that is prepared by combining paneer cubes with onions and bell peppers and cooked in spicy tomato gravy with aromatic spices and herbs.
This panner recipe consists of semi-dry gravy which makes it ideal for roti and paratha. The recipe is named “Kadai Paneer” because the cooking is done in a Kadai or Wok.
Although, this is a spicy recipe, but the colorful bell peppers used in the recipe are bursting with powerful antioxidants such as capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin and luteolin that reduce the risk of cancer, prevent chronic diseases, improves eye health and protects the heart.
Kadai Paneer is a delicious dish made from firm cottage cheese, onions, tomatoes, capsicum (green bell peppers) and Indian spices.
Well as the name suggest Kadai Paneer has two words “Kadai” and “Paneer”. The word Kadai refers to a humble Indian cookware which is similar to the Chinese wok but with steeper sides and more depth than that of a wok.
Paneer is fresh cheese made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar. We call paneer as cottage cheese in India, but it very different than the cottage cheese available outside India. This Indian cottage cheese is firm and can be easily cut into cubes. Thus it is used to make many curry recipes like paneer butter masala, palak paneer, shahi paneer and matar paneer etc.
Since this entire dish is made in Kadai and hence the name “Kadai Paneer”.
3 quintessential ingredients added to kadai paneer are onions, green bell peppers and tomatoes. Freshly ground spices known as kadai masala are also added. But if you do not have these whole spices, it is fine.
You can just add the ground spices and your kadai paneer will taste good. I have made kadai paneer a few times with adding ground spice powders and the taste has been good. That said the freshly pounded kadai masala does give strong and bold flavors to the recipe.
Kadai Paneer is one of the most easy to prepare yet delicious paneer recipe. You can make it at times when you have unexpected guests, or you are too tired or in no mood to go for an elaborate cooking process.
About This Kadai Paneer Recipe
This Restaurant Style Kadai Paneer Recipe is a semi dry, mildly spiced curry and uses freshly pound kadai masala made with whole spices.
The flavors of this paneer recipe come from freshly pounded coriander seeds and Kashmiri red chilies and yes adding freshly pounded spices do make a lot of difference to the food that we cook.
The recipe is simple and very easy to make and adapted from the cookbook “Prashad – Cooking with Indian Masters” by Jiggs Kalra.
Tips to make Best Kadai Paneer
Kadai: Don’t have a kadai? No problem. Simply use a frying pan or a wok.
Kadai Masala: Coriander seeds and dried red chillies go in the kadai masala making it aromatic and pungent. You can even add a bit of cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom in the kadai masala.
Dry Red Chillies: For the red chillies, use ones which has low to medium heat. Highly pungent and hot chillies will make the recipe too spicy. If you can get Kashmiri Red Chillies, then add them as they are low in heat and impart a vibrant orange-red color in the recipe. If you do not have Kashmiri chilies, then use any Indian dry red chillies which have a low to medium heat quality. Just reduce the quantity depending on the heat and pungency of the chilies. Since red chilies are added in the recipe, you do not need to add red chili powder.
Grinding the spices: The spices for kadai masala can be easily ground in a small grinder or a spice grinder. To make the pounding easier in a mortar pestle, dry roast the red chilies and coriander seeds.
Paneer: It is always better to use homemade paneer for any paneer recipe. You can even use packaged store-bought paneer. Read the instructions on the package on how to use the paneer. Frozen paneer cubes need to be soaked in hot water before adding them in the dish.
Tomatoes: Use tomatoes which are ripe, red and with a sweet taste. Do not use very tart or sour tomatoes.
Onions: You can use both red onions and white onions.
Capsicum (Bell Pepper): Usually green bell pepper is added in the dish. But you can break the norm and use red or yellow bell pepper. With red or yellow bell pepper, the dish get nice subtle sweet tones. The capsicum are cut in strips or julienne. The capsicum can also be diced, but making julienne means faster cooking.
Garnish: Do not forget to garnish with some ginger julienne and coriander leaves. Especially, the ginger julienne impart zesty, warm and pungent notes while eating.
Vegan Option: Use tofu instead of paneer and use oil instead of butter or ghee.
Ingredients for kadai paneer :–
- Green chilies
- Garlic cloves
- Bell peppers
- Kashmiri red chilies
- Coriander seeds
- Kasuri methi
- Garam masala
- Chopped coriander
How to make Kadai Paneer
1. In a grinder or mortar-pestle, take 1.5 tablespoons coriander seeds and 5 to 6 Kashmiri red chilies.
2.Grind to a semi fine powder.
3.. In a kadai, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions.
4.4. Sauté onions till they turn translucent.
5.5. Then add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.
6. Sauté for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
7.. Now add 2.5 to 3 cups finely chopped tomatoes.
8. Mix well and sauté tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes.
9. Then add the ground kadai masala to the tomatoes.
10. Mix well. Sauté the tomatoes till the whole mixture become like a paste and starts to leave oil. This method is called ‘Bhunao‘ in Hindi.
11. Now add ¾ to 1 cup capsicum julienne.
12. Sauté the capsicum for some 3 to 4 minutes.
13. Then add 1 to 2 green chilies (slit) and ½ cup water. You can add less or more water as required.
14. Mix very well and sauté till the capsicum is half done. If you want you can cook the capsicum completely.
15. Once the capsicum is half cooked, then add garam masala powder and salt. Mix these with the rest of the masala.
16. Now add the paneer cubes (250 grams).
17. Again mix very well.
18. Lastly add 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), ginger julienne (from 1 inch ginger) and 2 tablespoons coriander leaves. Mix again.
19. Serve Kadai Paneer, hot with roti or naan or plain parathas or pudina paratha.