Kadai Paneer is a popular dhaba style paneer recipe in which paneer, bell peppers, onion and tomatoes are cooked in a gravy made with flavourful fresh ground spices kadai masala. This North Indian restaurant style Paneer recipe with nan or hot and puffy phulka tastes incredibly delicious and incredibly easy to make.
I am a big fan of kadai paneer. Unlike other paneer dishes, this one is super easy to make. This kadai paneer recipe that I am sharing today is super easy and simple.
This vibrant tangy spiced cottage cheese curry is cooked in kadai gravy made with onion tomato masala. A fragrant homemade mix of spice powders known as kadai masala is added to make this popular paneer dish from north India.
Kadai Paneer is:
Spicy, gluten-free Indian curry for a restaurant-style meal at home.
Dhaba style paneer recipe
A semi-dry paneer preparation
Made with homemade kadai masala
Kadai paneer gets its name from the utensil it is cooked in. This paneer dish is cooked in Indian wok/kadai or karahi. Kadai is used for making stir-fries, most of the deep frying also happens in the kadai. For making kadai paneer, Indian cottage cheese or paneer, onion, capsicum and tomatoes are cooked in kadai. The flavour and taste of kadai paneer come from special homemade kadai masala.
If you do not have kadai or wok you can cook in any pan which is suitable for stir-frying.
Ingredients for making kadai paneer
For preparing this karahi paneer dish you need these ingredients
Paneer: Use fresh soft paneer. You can use soft homemade paneer or store-bought paneer as per your preference.
Fresh: Onion, bell pepper or capsicum, tomatoes, tomato puree
Spices & Seasonings: Kadai masala, salt, Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder.
Kasuri Methi: Kasuri methi or dried fenugreek is the most important ingredient of the best kadai paneer recipe. This makes it flavourful and brings out the real taste of the dish.
Ingredients for kadai masala
Kadai masala is a unique mix of flavourful and aromatic spices. Kadai masala is a must for making an incredibly flavourful gravy for paneer and veggies. You need these ingredients for the homemade kadai spice mix.
Cumin seeds, black pepper, cinnamon. Red chilli, dried ginger and coriander seeds.
All you need to do is mix these whole spices and coarsely grind it.
You can use this spice mix in many recipes. You can make this kadai masala to make chicken kadai, kadai mushroom, kadai anda etc. I make a big batch and store in an airtight container in the fridge. That way I do not need to make it fresh every time I make any such dish.
I am sharing the correct proportion of the spices in the recipe below.
These fresh spices make this dish super flavorful. This freshly ground spice blend is the real secret of this amazing paneer dish.
This spice blend can actually be used in several recipes, it’s so good. So if you want you can make a big batch of this and store in an airtight container.
The important thing to note here is while making any spice mix for the best results take care to follow the exact proportion of the spices.
How to Make Kadai Paneer
The first step in making kadhai paneer is preparing vegetables. Make sure to cut the vegetables in a large chunk so they remain crunchy after stir-frying and not get mushy.
I cut capsicum in large cubes, onion cut into large chunks is separated in layers and small or medium-sized tomatoes are quartered.
Saute The vegetables: These chunks of veggies are first sautéed on high heat in a thick bottled pan. After sautéing vegetables I remove them from the pan.
Making Kadai paneer gravy:
Next step is making gravy for the kadai paneer. You can either make it from scratch or use my recipe of bhuna masala.
From the scratch:
- For making paneer gravy first saute onion paste (optional) and add a pinch of turmeric, and fresh tomato puree. Cook this masala for 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat till it starts to release the oil.
- Next add freshly made kadai paneer masala, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder and salt to taste.
- Cook this for a few minutes and add a cup of water.
- Bring this to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add in sautéed capsicum, onion, tomatoes and paneer cut into 1.5 inch long strips. Also, add 2 tablespoon fresh cream or malai and a big fat pinch of crushed kasuri methi. Always crush kasuri methi( dried fenugreek leaves) before you add them to any dish. It brings out the flavour of any dish.
Kadai paneer using Bhuna Masala:
I believe in super quick cooking, especially with my everyday dishes. My Indian bhuna masala which is always in my fridge helps me to fasten the cooking process and cuts the cooking time drastically. You can make it with readymade bhuna masala as well.
- For making kadai paneer with bhuna masala take 2-3 tablespoon of the bhuna masala paste. Add ½ cup fresh tomato puree. Cook this masala for 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat till it starts to release the oil.
- Add fresh kadai paneer masala, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder and salt to taste.
- Cook 3-4 minutes and then add a cup of water.
- Bring this to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add in sautéed capsicum, onion, tomatoes and paneer cut into 1.5 inch long strips. Also, add 2 tablespoon fresh cream or malai and a big fat pinch of crushed kasuri methi.
- Cook kadai paneer for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander and thin strips of fresh ginger and serve with your choice of bread.
Difference Between Kadai Paneer and Shahi Paneer
Shahi paneer or Mughlai paneer dish is a very rich paneer gravy inspired from Mughlai cuisine. Kadhai paneer is a lighter dish as compared to shahi paneer and has a completely different spice profile. It is more of a dhaba style dish with the use of rustic spice profile.
My Tried and Tested Tips
Good quality soft paneer: For making any dish quality paneer makes of Homemade paneer is best to make any paneer recipe. If you are using store-bought paneer soak paneer in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes before adding it in curry.
Always add paneer in the last stage of cooking. First, make the signature kadai gravy and then add paneer. Overcooking paneer results in a rubbery texture which we do not want here.
Only Stir-fry the veggies on high heat so that onion capsicum and tomatoes retain their shape and remain slightly crunchy.
If you want to make dry kadai paneer reduce the quantity of water and do not make a thin gravy. Just cook the masala with a little bit of water and then add stir-fried vegetables and paneer.
To make it spicier you can increase the number of red chillies and double the amount of kadai masala.
What to Serve with Kadai Paneer?
Kadai paneer gravy tastes best with bread like Naan, paratha, phulka, chapati etc. You can even make dry kadai paneer and make a sandwich or baked samosa filling.
How to Store Leftovers?
Leftover kadai paneer can be stored in an Airtight dish in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. You can easily reheat this in a microwave. Also, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe glass container.
I make sure whenever I am freezing something I use freezer safe, microwave safe glass containers. When I need to serve it I take out the kadai paneer from the freezer, thaw it on the kitchen counter and reheat.
More Such Recipes
If you love these easy curries you can check out other delicious recipes that are easy to cook and taste super delicious.
- Aloo Matar Paneer
- Paneer Butter Masala
- Kadai Egg Masala
- Shahi paneer
- Paneer Bhurji Gravy
- Paneer Bhurji Dry
- Methi Malai Paneer
- Paneer do pyaza
Kadai Paneer Recipe- How to make Kadai Paneer
- 250 gms paneer / cottage cheese , cubed
- 2 onions boiled and grated
- 1 cup tomato Fresh puree
- 1 tsp inch ginger paste
- 2 quartered green bell peppers
- 2 Quartered Tomatoes
- 1 quartered onion and separated
- 1 cup milk whole
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi fenugreek crushed /dry leaves
- 2 tablespoon coriander / cilantro chopped leaves
- to taste salt
- red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- In a pan heat 2 tablespoon oil. add grated ginger, saute it for a minute and add boiled and grated onion to the pan.
- Now when onion paste is sauted for 2-3 minutes ( because it is already cooked) add fresh tomato puree.
- saute the tomatoes and onion paste till it starts to leave oil in the sides of the pan.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt, stir it well. Keep this pan aside.
- In another pan take 1 tablespoon of oil and now start adding all the quartered vegetables one by one.
- Saute them with paneer on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes till light brown marks start to appear on paneer. Now switch of the heat. And transfer these vegetables to pan with prepared masala.
- Add 1 cup of milk and bring this curry to a light boil. When curry starts to simmer add kasuri methi and this curry is ready to serve. Finally garnish it with sprinkle of fresh coriander.