Kadai Paneer is a delicious dish made from firm cottage cheese, onions, tomatoes, capsicum (green bell peppers) and Indian spices. There are two ways the recipe can be made and I am sharing both the versions in this post.
- Kadai Paneer – Semi Dry Restaurant Style
- 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 had with some steamed rice or peas pulao and even naan or roti.
What is Kadai Paneer made of
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.
Serving Suggestions: The semi dry version of Kadai paneer tastes good with roti or naan or paratha (Indian flatbreads). 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.
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. Sauté onions till they turn translucent.
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.
More popular Paneer recipes
This post is from the archives and has been republished and updated on 24 May 2020.
Kadai Paneer Recipe (Restaurant Style)
for kadai masala
- 5 to 6 kashmiri red chilies
- 1.5 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium to large onion or 90 grams onions - finely chopped or ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- 5 to 6 medium tomatoes or 400 grams tomatoes - finely chopped or 2.5 to 3 cups finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 large capsicum - julienned or sliced or ¾ to 1 cup thinly sliced capsicum (bell pepper)
- 1 or 2 green chilies - slit
- ½ cup water or add as required
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 250 grams paneer - cubed (cottage cheese)
- 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
- 1 inch ginger, julienne
- salt as required
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 heat 2 tbsp oil. Add finely chopped onions and saute 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 rotis or naans.
Nutrition Info (approximate values)
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 gravy recipe uses a lot of tomatoes – so make sure they are ripe and sweet.
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
1. First roast 5 teaspoon coriander seeds and 4 to 5 dry Kashmiri red chilies in a pan on a low flame till aromatic.
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.
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.
4. Then add 2 medium sized chopped onions (100 grams) and sauté till translucent.
5. Add the freshly ground coriander and kashmiri red chilli powder. Also add 1 to 2 chopped green chillies.
6. Mix and stir well.
7. Add 2 medium finely chopped tomatoes. Sauté till the tomatoes soften and become pulpy. You will also see oil releasing from the sides of the onion-tomato masala. Then only add the tomato puree (5 medium-sized tomatoes, pureed in a blender).
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.
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.
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.
11. Then add ½ tablespoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala powder. Stir the gravy.
12. Then add 250 to 300 grams paneer cubes or slices. Mix gently.
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 cream at this step and then just gently mix the cream in the gravy.
14. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, ginger julienne or grated paneer. Serve Kadai Paneer Gravy with roti, naan, steamed rice or cumin rice or peas pulao or biryani rice.
Spicy Kadai Paneer Gravy
- 250 to 300 grams paneer (cottage cheese)
- 1 small to medium capsicum (green bell pepper), julienned
- 1.5 inch ginger + 7 to 8 medium sized garlic, crushed in a mortar-pestle to a fine paste
- 1 to 2 green chilies, chopped
- 2 medium sized onions or 100 grams onions, finely chopped
- 7 medium tomatoes 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 (dry fenugreek leaves)
- ½ to ¾ cup water, add as required
- 2 tablespoons cream, (25 to 30% fat) - optional
- 3 tablespoons butter or oil or ghee (clarified butter)
- a few chopped coriander leaves for garnish
- salt as required
for the kadai masala
- 5 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 to 5 dry kashmiri red chilies, if using any other variety of dry red chilies, then reduce to 2 to 4 depending on the heat and pungency of the chilies.
- 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 home style 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.
- The gravy is tangy and this comes from the tomatoes. If you prefer to balance the tang, then add some cream towards the end.
- Use fresh red and ripe tomatoes in this recipe. Avoid using tomatoes which are sour.
- The recipe is slightly spicy. Reduce the quantity of red chilies if you don't want any spiciness.
- 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.