Kadai Paneer – a spicy, flavourful and delicious semi-dry dish made with Indian cottage cheese, mixed peppers (capsicum) and freshly ground spices. One of the easy restaurant style paneer recipes to make at home. Gets ready in less than 30 minutes, serve it with naan or paratha to make a delightful meal.
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Kadai paneer also called karahi paneer is one of the popular and most common paneer dishes ordered in the restaurant. This Indian paneer recipe is simple and easy to make at home with a secret spice blend “kadai masala” and few simple tricks to recreate the restaurant flavours. It is a perfect crowd pleaser dish at parties and on special occasions.
What is Kadai Masala?
Kadai masala is an extremely flavourful spice blend and it is an essential element of kadai dishes. Without this particular spice, you won’t manage to get authentic taste and flavours. For this particular Indian paneer recipe, it is very essential to have a spice blend with coarse texture. Homemade freshly ground spice blend and having a coarse texture are the two secrets to get the true flavours of kadai paneer.
How to make Kadai Masala?
Dry roast spices over low flame for 2-3 minutes just until spices are fragrant and start to turn light brown. Keep stirring to avoid burning spices. Allow them to cool completely and then grind it to a coarse powder either in a spice blender or mortar and pestle. Ensure the end product has a coarse texture and not fine powder regardless of whatever method you choose to grind the spices.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have the coarse texture to achieve authentic flavours. If you are someone who finds it difficult to get the right texture in a spice blender, then I would highly recommend using mortar and pestle. You will have better control over the texture and know when to stop pounding. Though constant pounding is time taking process the end result is all worth it.
Tips to Recreate Restaurant Flavours
The kadai masala is an essential element to get restaurant flavours and the secret is to use freshly ground masala. The trick to achieving the perfect taste and flavour is to add it at the right time. There are two ways:
1. Add it while stir-frying mixed peppers, onion and paneer so that the masala blends well and makes the curry flavourful.
2. Alternatively, add it to curry just before you switch the flame off to retain maximum flavour and aroma. Remember not to add kadai masala along with other dry spices.
Kadai Paneer Recipe Variations
You can use butter to enhance the flavour of paneer curry.
A spoon of cream adds a creamy texture to the curry and make it appealing for kids.
To make a gravy version, after step 5 (in pic), add half a cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes and then add stir-fried peppers and paneer.
You can swap tomato puree or paste for fresh tomatoes. If you use tinned tomato paste be careful while adding salt as most of the canned products contain salt in it.
How to Serve Paneer Kadai
I would highly recommend to serve this dry paneer dish with naan, paratha or tandoori roti.
Serve it with a glass of juice or lassi for kids to compensate for the spiciness just in case.
Watch how to make Kadai Paneer
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More Paneer Recipes
For Kadai Masala
Coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, black peppercorn, dry red chillies.
Vegetables: mixed peppers, onion, tomato, ginger-garlic paste, coriander.
Dry and Whole Spices: cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, salt.
Paneer: I’ve used store-bought paneer. Feel free to use fresh homemade paneer. Whichever paneer you use, ensure it is fresh and well within its expiry date.
Liquids: I’ve used just oil, but you can use oil and butter.
1. In a small pan, dry roast spices mentioned under “Kadai Masala” over low heat for 2 minutes or until aromatic, stirring constantly.
2. Switch the flame off and let spices cool down and then grind it to a coarse powder.
3. In a kadai or pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, put cumin and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Now add onion, ginger garlic paste, saute and cook until the onion starts browning.
4. Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and mix well.
5. Now add tomatoes and cook until raw aroma vanishes and tomatoes turn mushy.
6. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat oil and stir fry mixed peppers (capsicum), onion for a minute. Then add paneer cubes and saute until peppers (capsicum) are half cooked.
7. Now add chilli powder, freshly ground kadai masala, salt and mix well until vegetables and paneer are well coated with spices.
8. Transfer stir-fried vegetables to onion-tomato masala and carefully mix until well combined. Ensure not to break paneer cubes. Switch off the heat and add coriander.
Serve piping hot kadai paneer with any flatbread or flavoured rice of your choice.
Tips and Tricks
The quality of paneer determines the texture and softness of paneer. Ensure the paneer is fresh and not expired.
If the paneer is hard, soak them in warm water for 5-10 minutes to make it soft.
Always add kadai masala at the end to get the authentic kadai flavours.
If the tomatoes are too sour, then add a pinch of sugar to balance the taste.
Dry roast kadai spices on low flame stirring constantly to prevent burning the spices.
Adjust the spices to suit your preferred taste.
Ensure to grind spices coarsely and not fine powder.
Toss paneer gently and ensure not to break it.
1 cup =250ml ; 1 tbsp =15ml ; 1 tsp =5ml
For Kadai Masala
- 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1/4 tbsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Black Peppercorn
- 2 Red Chillies
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 4 tbsp + 1.5 tbsp Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1.5 cups/ 193 gms/ 2 medium size Onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp Chilli Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
- Salt as required
- 1.5 cups/ 317 gms/ 3 medium size Tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 cup/ 200 gms Paneer cut into cubes
- 1 cup/ 164 gms Mixed Peppers/Capsicum (green, yellow and red) cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup/ 48 gms/ 1/2 medium size Onion cut into cubes
- handful Coriander chopped
- In a small pan, dry roast spices mentioned under “Kadai Masala” over low heat for 2 minutes or until aromatic, stirring constantly. Switch the flame off and let spices cool down and then grind it to a coarse powder.
- In a kadai or pot, heat oil over medium-low heat.
- Once the oil is hot, put cumin and let it sizzle for a few seconds.
- Now add onion, ginger garlic paste, slightly increase the flame and and cook for around 5-7 minutes until the onion starts browning.
- Add tomato, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and mix well. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until raw aroma vanishes and tomatoes turn mushy.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and stir fry mixed peppers and onion for a minute just until mixed peppers are half cooked.
- Then add paneer cubes and saute for a minute.
- Now add chilli powder, freshly ground kadai masala and mix well until vegetables and paneer are well coated with spices.
- Transfer stir-fried vegetables to the onion-tomato masala and carefully mix until well combined.
- Ensure not to break paneer cubes. Switch off the heat and add coriander.
- Serve piping hot kadai paneer with any flatbread of your choice.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Do let me know if you make this easy paneer recipe. I love to get feedback from readers.