Kadai Paneer Recipe – Semi Dry & Gravy | 2 Ways

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Kadai Paneer is a vibrant, tangy, spiced paneer dish that can brighten up your day any time. Made with the usual Indian pantry staples like onions, tomatoes, capsicum (green bell peppers) and Indian spices, this bright dish comes together in 30 minutes .

kadai paneer in a small kadai (Indian wok) on a light blue board with a bold text of "kadai paneer" listed on image

Here I am sharing two delicious recipes of kadai paneer.

  1. Kadai Paneer – Semi Dry Restaurant Style
  2. Kadai Paneer Gravy – Spicy Home Style

Both the recipe versions taste fabulous and you can choose what you prefer. The semi dry version of kadai paneer tastes excellent with naan, roti or paratha. The gravy version can be served with steamed rice or peas pulao or even naan or roti.

Kadai Paneer

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.

Paneer is firm, non melting and can be easily cut into cubes. Due to its non-melting and firm texture it makes an excellent addition in many Indian curry recipes like Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Paneer, Shahi Paneer and Matar Paneer.

This entire dish is made in the Kadai and thus the name “Kadai Paneer”.

What is in Kadai Paneer

Three 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 simply add the ground spices like turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and coriander powder 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 dish. 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 recipe

This restaurant style kadai paneer is a semi dry, mildly spiced curry and uses freshly ground kadai masala that is made with whole spices.

The flavors of this kadai paneer recipe come from freshly pounded coriander seeds and Kashmiri red chilies and yes adding freshly ground spices does 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.

kadai paneer in a small kadai (Indian wok) on a light blue board
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Kadai Paneer

Making Kadai Masala

1. In a grinder or mortar-pestle, take 1.5 tablespoons coriander seeds and 5 to 6 Kashmiri red chilies.

coriander seeds and kashmiri red chilies in a grinder for kadai masala

2. Grind to a semi fine powder.

ground kadai masala

Sautéing onions, tomatoes, spices

3. In a kadai, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions.

finely chopped onions added in hot oil in a kadai

4. Sauté onions until they turn translucent and soften on medium-low to medium heat.

onions sautéed until translucent and softened

5. Then add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.

ginger garlic paste added

6. Sauté for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

ginger garlic paste being sautéed with a spoon

7. Now add 2.5 to 3 cups finely chopped tomatoes. The tomatoes have to ripe, red and sweet. Do not add tomatoes which are very sour.

finely chopped tomatoes added

8. Mix well and sauté tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes on a medium-low to medium heat.

tomatoes being sautéed

9. Then add the ground kadai masala to the tomatoes.

ground kadai masala added to 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.

The kadai masala paste, will also thicken and become glossy.

tomatoes being sautéed to make kadai paneer

Sautéing capsicum

11. Now add ¾ to 1 cup capsicum julienne or slices.

thin capsicum slices added

12. Sauté the capsicum for some 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low to medium heat.

You can add red or yellow or green colored capsicum or bell pepper. A mix of various colored bell peppers can also be added.

sautéing capsicum

13. Then add 1 to 2 green chilies or 1 small serrano pepper (slit) and ½ cup water. You can add less or more water as required.

water being added

14. Mix very well and sauté until the capsicum is half-cooked. If you prefer you can cook the capsicum completely. Half-cooked capsicum gives some crunch to the dish.

kadai gravy being sautéed with a steep spoon

15. Once the capsicum is half-cooked add garam masala powder and salt as required. Mix these with the rest of the masala.

garam masala powder being added

Making Kadai Paneer

16. Now add the paneer cubes (250 grams).

paneer cubes in a white plate to be added

17. Again mix very well.

paneer cubes evenly mixed

18. Lastly add 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), ginger julienne (from 1 inch ginger) and 2 tablespoons coriander leaves. Mix again.

If you do not have kasuri methi, then simply omit adding them.

Ginger julienne are a must, so do not skip them. They impart a great deal of fresh, zesty flavor to the dish.

coriander leaves added to prepared kadai paneer

19. Serve Kadai Paneer, hot or warm with roti or naan or plain paratha or pudina paratha.

kadai paneer in a small kadai (Indian wok) on a light blue board

Serving Suggestions

This semi-dry version of kadai paneer tastes good with roti or naan or paratha (Indian flatbreads). You can also have it with bread or dinner rolls. Serve with a side of onion rings and lemon wedges.

More innovative ideas would be to make grilled sandwiches or toasties or a kathi roll with these. They taste awesome. Add some cheese to make them more tasty.

You could also make a pizza with the semi-dry kadai paneer and mozzarella cheese as toppings

Tips

Expert Tips

  • 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 dish that you make. 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.

More Popular Paneer Recipes

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restaurant style kadai paneer recipe

Kadai Paneer Recipe (Restaurant Style)

4.96 from 84 votes
Kadai Paneer is a semi dry curry made with Indian cottage cheese, onions, tomatoes, capsicum (green bell peppers) and freshly ground kadai masala. This Kadai Paneer recipe tastes awesome and is truly a restaurant style recipe.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For kadai masala

  • 5 to 6 kashmiri red chilies
  • 1.5 tablespoons coriander seeds

Other ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions – 90 grams or 1 medium-sized
  • 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2.5 to 3 cups finely chopped tomatoes – 400 grams or 5 to 6 medium-sized)
  • ¾ to 1 cup thinly sliced capsicum or 1 large (bell pepper)
  • 1 to 2 green chilies or 1 small serrano pepper – slit
  • ½ cup water or add as required
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 250 grams Paneer – cubed (cottage cheese)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi – crushed (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
  • 1 inch ginger – julienne
  • salt as required

Instructions

Making kadai masala

  • In a grinder or mortar-pestle take the coriander seeds and red chilies.  
  • Grind to a semi fine powder.

Making kadai paneer

  • In a kadai or frying pan, heat oil. Add finely chopped onions and sauté them till they turn translucent. 
  • Then add ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away. 
  • Now add the finely chopped tomatoes. Saute tomatoes for 3 to 4 mins. 
  • Then add the ground kadai masala to the tomatoes.
  • Saute the tomatoes till the whole mixture become like a paste and starts to leave oil.
  • Now add the capsicum julienne. Saute the capsicum for some 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Then add green chilies. add water.
  • Mix very well and saute till the capsicum is half done.
  • Then add salt and garam masala powder. Mix these with the rest of the masala.
  • Now add the paneer cubes. Again mix very well. 
  • Lastly add kasuri methi, ginger julienne and coriander leaves. Mix again. 
  • Serve the kadai paneer, hot with roti or naan.

Video

Notes

  • Kadai: If you do not have a kadai, simply make the recipe in a frying pan or a wok.
  • Kadai Masala: The kadai masala is made with coriander seeds and dried red chillies. A bit of cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom can also be added in the kadai masala.
  • Dry Red Chillies: Use dry red chillies which have low to medium heat. Pungent and hot chillies will make the recipe too spicy. If possible add dry kashmiri red chillies since they are not very hot and give a nice orange-red color to the dish. If you do not have Kashmiri chilies, then use any Indian dry red chillies which have a low to medium heat quality.
  • Grinding the spices: You can grind the spices for kadai masala 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 better to use homemade paneer. 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:  Both red onions and white onions can be added in the recipe.
  • Capsicum (Bell Pepper): Usually green bell pepper is added in the dish. But you can 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.
  • Serving Suggestions:  The semi dry version of Kadai paneer tastes good with roti or naan or paratha (Indian flat breads). The gravy version pairs well with steamed rice, jeera rice (cumin rice), peas pulao and even roti or naan. Serve with a side of onion rings and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Kadai Paneer Recipe (Restaurant Style)
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 321 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 41mg14%
Sodium 428mg19%
Potassium 325mg9%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1058IU21%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 41mg50%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 11µg10%
Calcium 328mg33%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 19µg5%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 21mg5%
Phosphorus 39mg4%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Home Style Kadai Paneer Gravy Recipe

This is a Spicy and Tasty Gravy Recipe of Kadai Paneer. This curry is slightly spicy and tangy than the version of dry kadai paneer which I have shared above.

This kadai paneer gravy recipe uses a lot of tomatoes – so make sure they are ripe and sweet.

kadai paneer recipe gravy in a small copper kadai garnished with coriander sprigs

This gravy recipe also uses the kadai masala. As I have mentioned above, the kadai masala made with freshly ground coriander and dry red chillies add a lot of flavor in the dish.

This Kadai Paneer Gravy goes well with the roti, paratha or rumali roti or naan and also equally well with plain steamed rice or cumin rice.

How to make Kadai Paneer Gravy

Roasting spices for kadai masala

1. First roast 5 teaspoon coriander seeds and 4 to 5 dry Kashmiri red chilies in a pan on a low flame till aromatic.

spices for kadai masala being roasted

2. When the spices cool, grind both of them in a grinder to a semi-fine or fine powder. Avoid keeping the powder coarse as then the gravy has grits and the masala comes in the mouth while eating.

kadai masala spices ground in a grinder

Making Kadai Masala Gravy

3. In a pan heat 2 to 3 tablespoon butter or oil or ghee (clarified butter). Then add the ginger garlic paste (1.5 inch ginger, chopped + 7 to 8 medium sized chopped garlic, crushed in a mortar-pestle to a fine paste). Sauté till their raw aroma disappears.

ginger-garlic paste being sautéed in butter

4. Then add 2 medium sized chopped onions (100 grams) and sauté till translucent.

onions being sautéed

5. Add the freshly ground coriander and kashmiri red chilli powder. Also add 1 to 2 chopped green chillies.

kadai masala and green chilies added

6. Mix and stir well.

kadai masala and chillies mixed

7. Add 2 medium finely chopped tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes soften and become pulpy. You will also see oil releasing from the sides of the onion-tomato masala.

When the chopped tomatoes have softened completely, then only add the tomato puree (5 medium-sized tomatoes, pureed in a blender).

tomato puree added

8. Stir well and continue to sauté till you see oil leaving the sides. About 9 to 10 mins on a low to medium-low flame.

tomato puree mixed well

9. Add 1 small to medium sized capsicum (green bell pepper) julienne. Stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low to medium flame.

You could add any variety of capsicum or bell pepper – green, yellow or red. Adding a mix of different colored bell pepper look lovely as well as taste great.

thinly cut capsicum slices added to kadai masala gravy

10. Add ½ to ¾ cup of water and salt (as required). Continue to simmer for some 7 to 8 minutes. Once the gravy is done, you will some oil specks on the top.

water and salt added

11. Then add ½ tablespoon crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala powder. Stir the gravy.

Skip if you do not have the dried fenugreek leaves.

garam masala powder and crushed dried fenugreek leaves added

Making Kadai Paneer Gravy

12. Then add 250 to 300 grams paneer cubes or slices. Mix gently.

paneer cut in long rectangles are added

13. Switch off the flame. Don’t overcook the paneer as then it will become hard and you won’t get the desired texture in the paneer.

You can also add 2 tablespoons low-fat cream or 1 tablespoon heavy cream at this step and gently mix the cream in the gravy.

paneer mixed and kadai paneer gravy is ready to be served

14. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, ginger julienne or grated paneer. Do not skip on either coriander leaves (cilantro) or ginger julienne. Both add plenty of freshness, especially the ginger hits you with its warm and pungent taste.

Serve kadai paneer gravy with roti, naan, steamed rice or cumin rice or peas pulao or biryani rice.

kadai paneer recipe gravy in a small copper kadai garnished with coriander sprigs and grated paneer
kadai paneer gravy recipe

Spicy Kadai Paneer Gravy

4.92 from 67 votes
This is a slightly spicy and tangy recipe of cottage cheese cooked with tomatoes and freshly ground coriander and dry red chilies in a kadai.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • 250 to 300 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
  • 1 small to medium capsicum (green bell pepper), thinly sliced
  • 1.5 inch ginger and 7 to 8 medium sized garlic- crushed in a mortar-pestle to a paste
  • 1 to 2 green chilies – chopped
  • 2 onions (medium-sized) or 100 grams onions, finely chopped
  • 7 tomatoes (medium-sized) or 500 to 550 grams tomatoes (2 tomatoes, finely chopped and 5 tomatoes, pureed in a blender)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ tablespoon crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ½ to ¾ cup water or add as required
  • 2 tablespoons cream (25 to 30% fat) or 1 tablespoon heavy cream – optional
  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves – for garnish
  • salt as required

For kadai masala

  • 5 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 4 to 5 kashmiri red chilies – for other variety of dry red chilies, reduce to 2 to 4 depending on their heat, pungency

Instructions

Preparation

  • First roast the coriander and dry kashmiri red chilies in a pan on a low flame till aromatic.
  • When the spices cool, grind both of them in a grinder to a semi fine powder. Keep aside.
  • Finely chop the onions. Julienne (cut into very thin strips) the capscium/green bell pepper.
  • Finely chop 2 tomatoes. Roughly chop 5 tomatoes and add them to the blender. Make a puree of the tomatoes. Keep the tomato puree aside.
  • Crush the ginger-garlic to a fine paste in a mortar-pestle.

Making kadai paneer gravy

  • In a pan heat butter or oil or ghee. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma disappears.
  • Then add the chopped onions and saute till transparent.
  • Add the ground coriander and kashmiri red chilli powder that we made. Also add green chilies. mix well.
  • Then add the finely chopped tomatoes and sauté till the tomatoes become pulpy and you see oil releasing from the sides of the tomato masala.
  • Then add tomato puree.
  • Stir well and continue to saute till you see oil leaving the sides. About 9 to 10 mins on a low flame.
  • Add the capsicum/green bell pepper julienne. Stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low to medium flame.
  • Add water and salt and continue to simmer for some 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Later add crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and garam masala powder and stir.
  • Add paneer cubes or slices. Stir gently. Cook the paneer for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • You can also 2 tbsp of cream toward the end. Just stir the cream gently in the gravy.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and Serve Kadai Paneer Gravy with rotis, naan, steamed rice or jeera rice.

Notes

  1. The gravy is tangy and this comes from the tomatoes. If you prefer to balance the tang, then add some cream towards the end.
  2. Use fresh red and ripe tomatoes in this recipe. Avoid using tomatoes which are sour.
  3. The recipe is slightly spicy. Reduce the quantity of red chilies if you don’t want any spiciness.
  4. The dry Kashmiri red chillies added here, give a nice red color to the gravy accompanied with the tomatoes. Kashmiri chilies have less heat as compared to other varieties of red chilies. If you don’t have Kashmiri chilies, then use any Indian dry red chillies. Just reduce the quantity depending on the heat and pungency of the chilies.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Kadai Paneer Gravy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 339 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 15g94%
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 1017mg44%
Potassium 561mg16%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 1895IU38%
Vitamin C 109.5mg133%
Calcium 348mg35%
Iron 1.4mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This kadai paneer recipe post from the archives (2009) and has been republished and updated on 24 May 2020. 

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270 Comments

  1. I only have kashmiri powder. Kadai Paneer calls for 4-5 whole kashmiri peppers. How much powder should I use instead of whole chilis? Thank you.

    1. You can add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of kashmiri red chilli powder in the recipe. Welcome.

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