Kadhai Paneer. An extremely flavorful, spicy paneer dish that is made using freshly ground masalas. It has a beautiful texture and way better than any restaurant paneer dish. Perfect to be scooped with a nan or paratha.
Kadhai (Kadai/ Karahi) Paneer. Kadhai or Karahi is an Indian term for a deep, heavy wok used for cooking vegetables and/ or meat. it allows for slow cooking in a wider surface area and is fantastic for mixing everything the right way. Very popular dishes on an Indian restaurant menu have more than one dish beginning with the term Kadhai.
Kadhai Paneer is a very popular paneer dish. It has a thick, chunky texture and is not one of those smooth, silky sauce paneer dishes like shahi paneer or paneer butter masala. Hence it makes for a perfect side for Indian breads like nan, paratha and rotis. Leftovers make for a quick and easy paneer kathi roll. I pack these for my daughters for their school lunch sometimes.
Paneer or Indian style cottage cheese is a very popular food for vegetarians. It is very versatile and packed with all the good protein. It is a non melting soft cheese made by curdling milk using lemon juice/ vinegar/ curd. The very famous paneer dishes loved by many are shahi paneer, paneer butter masala, matar paneer, malai kofta and palak paneer.
Kadhai paneer is unique in its preparation because of the use of freshly ground whole spices. I have used whole coriander seeds, red chilies, cumin, black peppercorns. To start with, I lightly roast these spices on low flame until aromatic and coarsely grind them thereafter. Once ground, they have the most beautiful aroma and your kitchen will smell so good.
The first step while making this dish is to marinate the paneer chunks in thick yogurt, salt and turmeric. This is a good time to prepare the spices and wet ingredients. There are a few steps in the making of this dish that may seem a lot but they are actually very simple and if you have all your ingredients ready beforehand, it comes together very quickly.
I usually use a green capsicum here but you may use a combination of bell peppers as well. Try to not overcook the bell pepper. For this I have a special step towards the end of making where I quickly pan fry capsicum chunks and mix them in the kadhai paneer. This helps to maintain the color and flavor of the bell pepper.
Once the kadhai paneer is ready, garnish generously with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with ghee rotis, parathas or nan.
- 400 gm Paneer
- 2 Medium red onions finely chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1 Small piece of ginger
- 4-5 Ginger juliennes
- 2 Green chilies
- 4 Large red tomatoes, pureed
- 1 Small red onion cut into an inch size chunks
- 1 Small green capsicum cut into inch size chunks
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- ½ tsp Garam Masala powder
- 1 tbsp Kasuri methi
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Green cardamom
- 2 Cloves
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1-2 tbsp Ghee
- ½ cup Chopped coriander leaves
- Salt (to taste)
For the marinade
- ½ cup Greek/ hung yogurt
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tbsp Mustard oil
For the Kadhai Masala
- 2 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
- 2-3 Whole red chilies
- 1 tsp Saunf/ fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Black peppercorns
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the marinade and mix. Add the paneer cubes now and mix everything well. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.
- Heat a small pan, and dry roast all the whole spices mentioned under the kadhai masala. Do not burn these; dry roast only until lightly fragnant. Coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle, or in a coffee/ spice grinder.
- Take oil of your choice in a deep wok. Heat and add the bay leaf, cloves, cumin and the cardamom. Mix and add the chopped onions. Sauté these for a couple of minutes and then add the coarse paste of garlic, ginger and green chilies. Keep cooking for another 2-3 minutes after which add the red chili, coriander, turmeric powder followed by 2 to 3 tablespoons of the kadhai masala depending on how strong you want the final dish. Mix and cook this mixture well until all the rawness goes away.
- Add the tomato puree and the ginger juliennes. Mix and continue to cook until the tomatoes cook well and you see fat leaving the sides of the mixture.
- Now add the marinated paneer to the mixture. Increase the flame and gently keep mixing and stirring the paneer with the previously cooked masala. Be careful to not break the paneer. We need to cook this well so that the yogurt cooks very well and doesn't split later.
- Check the consistency at this stage, and add ½ to 1 cup of water as per preference. Mix and cover. Let this cook for about 10 minutes on medium flame.
- While the paneer cooks, take a small pan. Add 1 tsp ghee or oil, add the onion and capsicum chunks along with a tsp of salt, and sauté both on high flame for a few minutes until you see them slightly blistered.
- To the simmering paneer, add the blistered onions and capsicum and mix well. Add Garam Masala, kasuri methi and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Once done, switch off the flame, add a tablespoon of ghee and generously garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Mix and keep covered for about 10 minutes before serving hot with roti, nan or paratha. This is critical for all the juices and flavors to get soaked in and perfects the dish.