Kadai Paneer is a spicy, tangy and vibrant paneer dish that can brighten up your day anytime. Made with the usual Indian pantry staples like bell peppers (green peppers), onions, tomatoes and Indian spices, this bright dish comes together in 30 minutes.
- Kadai Paneer – Semi-Dry Restaurant Style
- Kadai Paneer Sauce – Spicy House Style
Both recipe versions taste fabulous. The semi-dry version of the kadai paneer tastes excellent with naan, paratha or roti. The sauce version can be served with steamed rice or pulao peas or even naan or roti.
As the name suggests, Kadai Paneer has the word Kadai which refers to a humble Indian cookware set similar to the Chinese wok but with sides steeper and deeper than that of a wok.
Paneer is a fresh cheese made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar or any other sour ingredient. We call paneer as cottage cheese in India, but it is very different from cottage cheese available outside India.
Paneer is firm, does not melt, and can be easily cubed. Due to its firm, non-melting texture, it makes a great addition in many Indian curry recipes such as Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Paneer, Shahi Paneer, and Matar Paneer.
This whole dish is made in Kadai and hence the name “Kadai Paneer”.
What Kadai Paneer contains
Three essential ingredients added to the kadai paneer are onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Also, freshly ground spices known as kadai masala are added. But if you don’t have those whole spices, that’s fine.
You can just add the ground spices like cilantro powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder and turmeric and your kadai paneer will taste great.
I made kadai paneer a few times adding ground spice powders and it tasted good. That said, the freshly pounded kadai masala gives the recipe strong and bold flavors.
Kadai Paneer is one of the easiest and most delicious paneer dishes. You can do this at times when you have unexpected guests, or not in the mood to go for an elaborate cooking process or you are too tired.
About this recipe
This restaurant-style kadai paneer is a slightly spicy, semi-dry curry and uses freshly ground kadai masala, made with whole spices.
The flavors in this kadai paneer recipe come from freshly crushed coriander seeds and Kashmiri red chili peppers and yes, the addition of freshly ground spices makes a lot of difference in the food we cook.
The recipe is simple and very easy to make and adapted from Jiggs Kalra’s “Prashad – Cooking with Indian Masters” cookbook.
How to make Kadai Paneer
Make Kadai Masala
1. Take 1.5 tablespoons of coriander seeds and 5 to 6 Kashmiri red peppers in a grinder or mortar-pestle.
2. Grind into a semi-fine powder.
Sauté onions, tomatoes, spices
3. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a kadai. Add ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onion.
4. Sauté onions until translucent and soften over medium-low to medium heat.
5. Then add 1 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste.
6. Sauté for a few seconds until the raw aroma of ginger and garlic is gone.
7. Now add finely chopped tomatoes about 2.5 to 3 cups. Tomatoes should be ripe, red and sweet. Do not add very sour tomatoes.
8. Mix well and sauté the tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low to medium heat.
9. Then to the tomatoes add the ground kadai masala.
10. Mix well. Sauté the tomatoes until all of the mixture becomes like a paste and begins to leave oil in. This method is called “bhunao” in Hindi.
The kadai masala paste will also thicken and become shiny.
Sauté the pepper
11. Now add ¾ to 1 cup of pepper julienned or sliced.
12. Sauté the bell pepper for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low to medium heat.
You can add bell pepper or red or yellow or green bell pepper. A mixture of various colored peppers can also be added.
13. Then add 1 to 2 green peppers or 1 small serrano pepper (split) and ½ cup of water. You can add water as needed.
14. Mix very well and sauté until the pepper is half cooked. If you prefer, you can cook the pepper completely. The half-cooked pepper gives the dish a crunch.
15. Once the pepper is half cooked, add the garam masala powder and salt as needed. Mix them with the rest of the masala.
Make Kadai Paneer
16. Now add the paneer cubes (250 grams).
17. Again, mix very well.
18. Finally, add 1 teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), the julienned ginger (1 inch of ginger) and 2 tablespoons of cilantro leaves. Mix again.
If you don’t have kasuri methi, just omit adding them.
The ginger juliennes are a must, so don’t skip them. They give a lot of fresh and tangy flavor to the dish.
19. Serve the Kadai Paneer, hot or lukewarm with roti or naan or regular paratha or pudina paratha.
This semi-dry version of the kadai paneer tastes great with roti or naan or paratha (Indian flatbreads). You can also enjoy it with bread or rolls. Serve with lemon wedges and onion rings at the side.
More innovative ideas would be to make grilled sandwiches or toast or a kathi roll with these. They taste awesome. Add cheese to make them tastier.
With the semi-dry kadai paneer and mozzarella cheese as a garnish you can also make a pizza.