Kadai Paneer is a traditional Indian dish made with Paneer, onions, capsicum, and tomatoes cooked together in an Indian Wok. A Kadai (also karahi or kadhai) is a thick, circular cooking pot used in Indian cuisine. Not to worry if you don’t have one on hand, this paneer gravy can be cooked in any type of pot.
Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer is a famous Paneer gravy recipe and is one of the most common dishes ordered in a restaurant. It is spicy and delicious and is best paired with Lachha Paratha or Naan. You may also serve it with roti, phulkas or even pulao or ghee rice.
The real flavors in this dish comes from freshly grounded spices that I am going to show you in the recipe. To give it a unique flavor, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and Kashmiri red chilies are dry roasted and then powdered. This freshly ground powder is added in the curry along with Kasuri methi, Kashmiri red chili powder and garam masala powder to give it a distinct flavor. This spice is so good that it can actually be used in a number of recipes. You can make a big batch of this and store it in an airtight container.
2 Types of Kadai Paneer
Both the recipe versions taste fabulous and you can choose what you prefer.
Dry Kadai Paneer – To make this version, just cook the masala as mentioned in the recipe and don’t add any water. Just add the veggies in the masala and give it a good mix and cook for 5 minutes on low flame. Semi-dry Kadai paneer tastes excellent with naan, roti or paratha.
Gravy Kadai Paneer – If you like your Kadai Paneer to have more gravy, then you can follow the same recipe. You can increase the quantity of water if you like your gravy to be eaten along with steamed rice or pulao or even with naan.
Tips for Perfect Kadai Paneer
I love anything that deals with PANEER. Be it Paneer Butter Masala or Palak Paneer I always get compliments when I serve it to the guest. With the bite from crunchy capsicum, Soft Paneer pieces surely mark its place in a delicious onion-tomato based gravy.
So here’s what I have learned over the years and I am excited to share all my tips with you guys to make the perfect Kadai Paneer at home!
- The freshly ground spices make a huge difference so use freshly made Kadai masala for this recipe. Avoid adding regular masalas here.
- To make it extra hot use more red chilies and black peppercorn while making the Kadai masala.
- You can also use the dhungar method to infuse smokey flavor. I have not done it here but you may and it will take your dish to the next level.
- Adding little butter and Kasuri methi will give a really good flavor.
- Do not saute Paneer for a longer time this will make paneer hard and chewy. Also, saute onion and capsicum on the medium-high flame to make veggies more crunchy.
Kadai Paneer tastes great with any Indian bread like Roti, Lachha Paratha, Tandoori Roti, Butter Naan, Garlic Naan or plain Paratha. You can make the gravy a little thinner and serve it with Steamed Rice or Jeera Rice.
Making restaurant-style Kadai paneer is no more a hectic job. Just a few simple ingredients readily available at home is all that is needed. Without spending long hours in the kitchen to make delicious food.
Kadai Paneer is one of the most loved curries of India & each restaurant has its own version. I present to you a classic recipe from my home kitchen. Here’s how to make a perfect Kadhai Paneer. Try my step by step recipe for a spicy Kadai Paneer.
Do try other Paneer recipes :
- Flavored Paneer
- Malai Kofta
- Palak Paneer
- Paneer Tikka Pizza Sliders
- Paneer Butter Masala
- Paneer Bhurji Gravy
- Tandoori Paneer Tikka
Preparation Time: 15mins ∏ Cooking Time: 40mins ∏ Servings: 3-4 person
Level: Intermediate(Medium) ∏ Measurement: 1 Cup ≡ 250 ml ≡ 250gm
For Kadai Masala
For Marinating Paneer
For Onion Tomato Masala Paste
How to make Kadai Paneer :
Step1: In a large bowl take paneer cubes and sprinkle around 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt (or as desired).
Step2: Gently Mix well until paneer cubes are well coated with the spices. While mixing be careful otherwise the paneer cubes may break in pieces. Let it marinate for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, we can prepare Kadai masala and onion-tomato paste.
Make the Kadai Masala
Step3: Heat a skillet or pan on low-medium heat, add, 1.5 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 4-5 Kashmiri red chili, 4-5 black peppercorns and dry-toast until fragrant. It will take around 2-3 minutes. (Do not brown it). Once done turn off the flame and remove the pan from heat.
Step4: Transfer the roasted spices to a spice grinder and let it cool down a bit.
Step5: Then grind to a fine powder using a grinder, spice mill or mortar pestle. Set aside. You can also make this masala in advance and store it.
Make the Onion Tomato Masala paste
Step6: Heat a pan/kadai on low-medium flame, add 1 tablespoon oil (or ghee). Add the 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 green cardamoms, 2 cloves, 1-inch ginger (roughly chopped), 7-8 garlic cloves, 2 green chili and saute till raw smell goes off for 20-30 secs.
Step7: Add sliced onion and saute it for 2 minutes on medium flame.
Step8: Now add roughly chopped tomatoes and cashew, cook it for 3-4 minutes until it turns soft.
Step9: Once the tomatoes soften, switch off the flame and cool down to room temperature. (Be careful not to blend it when it’s still hot otherwise it might blow off from the blender).
Step10: Once cooled down transfer mixture to a grinding jar and grind until completely smooth paste forms, then set it aside. (If required you may add 1 tablespoon water while grinding)
Make the Gravy
Step11: In the same or different Kadai, add 1 teaspoon ghee/oil and add onion and fry them on medium-high flame until turns light brown. Stir frequency otherwise the onions might burn. Once done transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
Step12: Similarly fry the capsicum wedges and keep them aside.
Step13: In the same pan add marinated paneer and toss it for 1 minute. Do not overcook paneer otherwise it will turn hard and chewy.
Step14: Heat the same pan on low-medium heat, add 1 teaspoon ghee/oil. Now add 1 bay leaf and 1-inch cinnamon stick, saute the spices for 20 seconds. Now add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. I will suggest turning off the flame at this point to avoid the burning of spices.
Step15: While the flame is still off. Use a strainer and strain the pureed onion-tomato paste into spices.
Step16: Using a spatula/spoon gently press the paste so that all the pure get strained. By doing this the gravy will become really smooth as all the big particles are removed.
Step17: Turn on the flame. Cook the masala paste for 3-4 mins on medium flame.
Step18: Now add the 2-2.5 tablespoon prepared kadhai masala and salt as per taste. Cook until the oil separates. It will take around 5-6 minutes.
Step19: Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and let the curry boil for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. (Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding less or more water). If making Dry Kadhai Paneer then do not add water and add fried veggies directly to the masala paste.
Step20: Now add the sauteed onion, tomato, and paneer. Gently mix it with the gravy. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Do not cook for longer if you want to keep the veggies a little crunchy.
Step21: Now add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon Kasuri methi. Mix it gently with light hands without breaking the paneer.
Step22: At last add 1 tablespoon cream (optional). Mix well. Check for seasoning and salt and adjust accordingly.
Step23: Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and your Kadhai paneer is ready to be served. Turn off the flame.
Step24: Serve it hot with paratha or naan or roti of your choice.
- Consistency of the curry is a matter of preference. Some like it thinner. I prefer mine to be slightly on the thicker side. Adjust the amount of water as per requirement.
- Using charcoal smoke the finished curry to get the restaurant style smoky taste.
- You can make the Kadai masala powder in a big batch and store.
- Don’t overcook the paneer as it will become hard and you won’t get the desired texture in the paneer.
- Adding cream in the curry is totally optional.
- Dry Kashmiri red chilies give a really good color to the gravy, however, if you don’t have Kashmiri red chili at home, then use any dry red chilies. Just reduce the quantity depending on the heat and pungency of the chilies.