How to Make Kadai Paneer

kadai paneer

Kadai paneer is a mouth-watering combination of traditional Indian spices cooked in ghee, onion, peppers, tomato and capsicum. The crunch of the peppers as you bite into this dish complements the soft paneer perfectly. Paneer means ‘Indian cottage cheese’ and kadai means ‘Indian Wok.’ So this dish is basically cheese cooked with gravy in a wok.

Paneer, AKA Indian cottage cheese is extensively used in Indian cooking. You can find ready-made paneer in almost all the groceries in India. In Indian kitchens, the kadai is one of the most common cooking utensils used. You might call it the Chinese wok version of India and it comes in many different sizes. Mainly, it is used for frying but smaller versions can be used for serving the dishes you create directly on the dining table, which you can apply to all the dishes you learn in this Indian cooking course.

Kadai paneer is one of the more popular recipes of Punjabi and Indian cuisine. It is a main course curry recipe served mostly with bread from India such as paratha, kulcha, naan and roti. Due to its exotic appearance and taste, it tends to find its way into the menu of marriage banquets as well as other important functions along with some of the other authentic Indian recipes from this course.

The good news is that kadai paneer is one of the easiest paneer recipes you can make in the comfort of your own home. As a matter of fact, it takes all of thirty minutes or less to create this dish. The dish can be made as a semi gravy dish or a dry variation depending on what you prefer. The juices should be absorbed by the paneer and the masala needs to coat the paneer cubes well for the dish to taste right. Aside from bread, you can serve this dish with rice for an extremely hearty meal.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams cottage cheese aka Paneer cut into one-inch cubes
  • 2 dry red Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 tablespoons dry coriander seeds
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 2 medium capsicums, chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp fresh cream, optional
  • 3 tbsp ghee or cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup water

Method

Dry roast the green cardamom, cinnamon, Kashmiri red chilli and dry roast coriander seeds over low flame for about one minute for the flavors to blend. Remove from heat and grind these with a mortar and pestle, a food grinder or a food processor until the texture is somewhat coarse. Set this aside.

Defrost the frozen paneer if this is what you are using. Keep the cubes in hot water to keep them soft until you need them. Once you are ready to add them in, drain the paneer beforehand.

In a non-stick pan, heat ghee or oil over medium flame. Add the onion and sauté this until it turns translucent. Add the red chilli powder and the ginger-garlic paste. Sauté this for one to two minutes. Add in the tomatoes and mix thoroughly.

Cook this until the oil begins separating and the tomatoes start turning tender around four to five minutes. Add the processed or ground spices you created previously and set aside. Mix this well and cook for about two minutes. Add in the tomato puree and mix. Add salt and chopped capsicum, cook for three minutes. Add in the curry as well as the crushed dried fenugreek leaves. Add one third cup of water and cook this for three minutes.

Add paneer cubes. Mix this and cook for three minutes. Add the fresh cream. Mix thoroughly and turn off the heat. After adding fresh cream, it is not a good idea to cook it for much longer or the cream curdles.

Put the dish into a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve immediately.

Tips

  • When this dish and Indian bread are served with lassi, it becomes a Punjabi authentic meal.
  • When paneer is not available, you can also use tofu, which is used in Indian vegetarian cooking, like it says in this article.
  • This authentic and easy recipe uses paneer cubes. For a variation in taste, you can fry them in ghee or oil until golden and use as directed. Make sure you drain this version thoroughly before adding it into the dish.
  • The 2 main ingredients of whole coriander seeds and dried fenugreek give play a vital role as they not only give the dish its distinct aroma but also its distinct flavor.
  • For a non-vegetarian meal, you can replace the paneer with boneless chicken cut into cubes and you would then get a dish called kadai chicken.
  • For a pure vegan meal, you can use tofu instead of cheese and skip the cream and serve this with other vegan recipes in this course.
  • For variety, add potatoes, corn, mushrooms and other vegetables and adjust the spice level of the chilli according to preference.
  • You can add extra garlic to this dish, as it becomes even more flavorful. As a matter of fact you can try the dish with or without extra garlic and see which one you prefer.
  • Never cook this dish to the point where the capsicum gets too soft. Rather, chop the capsicum in small pieces so you will still get the right texture without having to cook the dish too long.
  • Transform this dish into a gravy by adding 2 more tomatoes and switching the heat off when the consistency of gravy is reached.
  • Short on time? Puree the tomatoes rather than chopping these, which also reduces cooking time.
  • In India, Khadai is made with anything under the sun if you prepare the kadhai sauce ahead of time and add whatever you want to it, such as a fish and vegetable medley, chicken and cauliflower or all the different colors of bell peppers. For a drier version, add less water and cook it a tad bit longer. Discover even more recipes that are just as healthy with this course.