Kadai Paneer – paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and bell peppers cooked in a spicy masala.
This restaurant style Kadai Paneer gets its unique flavor from freshly ground spices like coriander and red chilies! Enjoy it with naan or paratha.
Paneer is one of my husband’s favorite vegetable (if you consider it as a vegetable that is, Indians definitely do!) and green pepper or capsicum as we call it in India is mine.
So it’s not surprising that kadai paneer is one of our most favorite dish!
What is Kadai Paneer
Kadai Paneer is a popular paneer recipe where paneer and bell peppers are cooked in a spicy masala.
It is one of the most popular paneer recipes. It’s there on the menu in almost all Indian restaurants. I remember always ordering it when we ate out.
Kadai is a like a wok commonly used in Indian cooking. We use it to make stir fry and all sorts of things. We also use it for deep frying snacks and sweets.
This dish is called Kadai Paneer because it’s cooked in a kadai. But if you don’t have a kadai you can simply use a wok or any other pan. I actually did not make it in a kadai!
This kadai paneer recipe gets its unique flavors from freshly ground masala. It’s called the kadai masala.
Here’s all that I added to my kadai masala
• Coriander seeds
• Dried red chilies
• Green cardamom
• Fennel seeds
The coriander seeds and dried red chilies are the main ingredients of the kadai masala. I also like adding cardamom, fennel and cloves for that extra flavor.
The spices are dry roasted until fragrant and then ground to a fine powder.
The addition of fresh spices makes this dish super flavorful. It’s amazing how much difference the addition of fresh spices can make to a dish. They really make the flavors pop.
This spice blend can actually be used in a number of recipes, it’s so good. So if you want you can make a big batch of this and store in an airtight container.
That way you don’t have to do the extra step of making the fresh masala when making kadai paneer.
You can use this masala to any other dish you like. For example kadai vegetable or with tofu. It will add so much flavor to these dishes.
How to Make The Best Kadai Paneer
Here are some of my tips to transform a simple kadai paneer from average to wow!
✓ If possible use fresh homemade paneer, there’s nothing like it. However if using store bought paneer, remember to soak it in warm water for 20-25 minutes before using in the recipe.
This is especially true for paneer that is sold at the Indian grocery stores in the US. You need to soak it in warm water before using.
✓ Do use freshly made kadai masala for this recipe. Do not use your regular masalas here. The freshly ground spices make a huge difference.
✓ If you can, do add tomato paste to the recipe. It’s a little bit but adds so much more flavor to the curry.
✓ Adding some ginger juliennes to the curry while its cooking makes it so much flavorful.
✓ Tiny bit of sugar helps in balancing the flavors.
✓ You can also use dhungar method to infuse smokey flavor to your kadai paneer. I have not done it here but you may.
For the dhungar method, heat a piece of coal, place it in a bowl and then place that bowl in the middle of your kadai paneer pan.
Pour ghee over hot coal. You will see fumes coming out of it, immediately cover the pan with a lid.
Let it stay covered for 15 minutes until the sabzi gets infused with the smokey flavor. Do not leave it for way too long else it will become very smokey. 10 to 15 minutes should be good enough.
This recipe of kadai paneer has the perfect balance of flavors in my opinion. I made this many time before getting it right.
It always turned out way too spicy for my liking. Once I added peppercorns to my kadai masala and they added too much heat.
Then once there was way too many dried red chilies in my masala and it again turned out hot.
So, after lot of trials, I think this version works best. However, I know some of you do like spicy food, so here’s what you can do.
To make this Kadai Paneer spicier
• use double the amount of red chilies while making the kadai masala.
• use the entire kadai masala in the recipe. I used 3 to 4 teaspoons of the masala and was left with some.
• use 1/2 teaspoon garam masala in place of 1/4.
Serving Suggestions for Kadai Paneer
I think kadai paneer tastes best with garlic naan or lachcha paratha. So I highly recommend serving it with either of the two.
1- To a small kadai or pan, dry roast the spices for kadai masala for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat until fragrant. (Add more red chilies for a spicier masala).
2- Remove kadai from heat and transfer the roasted spices to a spice grinder.
3- Let it cool down a bit and then grind to a fine powder. Set aside. You can also make this kadai masala in advance and store it.
4- In a large kadai or any other pan, now melt butter with oil on medium heat.
5- Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes until softened. Then add the sliced green chili and ginger garlic paste and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
6- Then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix and cook for around 6 minutes until tomatoes are really soft.
7- Then add 3 to 4 teaspoons of the kadai masala that you prepared earlier (or add the whole thing if you like it spicy). Also add the garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder.
8- Add half of the ginger julienne. Stir the spices and cook for 30 seconds.
9- Then add 1/2 cup water and stir.
10- Add cream, salt and sugar and mix. Cook for one minute.
11- Add in the paneer and bell peppers (capsicum) and mix. Cover the pan or kadai with a lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat until bell peppers are slightly softened. You only want them half cooked here
12- Crush kasuri methi and add to the pan.
Garnish with remaining ginger julienne and cilantro.
Serve kadai paneer with naan or paratha.
More Paneer Recipes
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This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2017.
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 dried red chilies
- 4 green cardamom
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon oil 15 ml, I used avocado oil
- 1 medium red onion 150 grams, finely chopped
- 1 green chili sliced
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 3-4 medium tomatoes 450 grams, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 3/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 inch ginger julienned, divided
- 1/2 cup water 4 oz/120 ml
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream 30 ml
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large green bell pepper (capsicum) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 225 grams paneer cubed, if using store-bought paneer soak it in warm water for 20-25 minutes before using
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
- cilantro to garnish
Make the Kadai Masala
- To a small kadai or pan, dry roast the spices for kadai masala for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat until fragrant. Add more red chilies for a spicier masala.
- Remove kadai from heat and transfer the roasted spices to a spice grinder.
- Let it cool down a bit and then grind to a fine powder. Set aside. You can also make this kadai masala in advance and store it.
Make the Kadai Paneer
- In a large kadai or any other pan, now melt butter with oil on medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes until softened. Then add the sliced green chili and ginger garlic paste and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix and cook for around 6 minutes until tomatoes are really soft.
- Then add 3 to 4 teaspoons of the kadai masala that you prepared earlier (or add the whole thing if you like it spicy). Also add the garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder.
- Add half of the ginger julienne. Stir the spices and cook for 30 seconds.
- Then add 1/2 cup water and stir.
- Add cream, salt and sugar and mix. Cook for one minute.
- Add in the paneer and bell peppers (capsicum) and mix. Cover the pan or kadai with a lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat until bell peppers are slightly softened. You only want them half cooked here.
- Crush kasuri methi and add to the pan.
- Garnish with remaining ginger julienne and cilantro. Serve kadai paneer with naan or paratha.
188 thoughts on “Kadai Paneer”
Love this receipe and everytime I make this comes out very tasty. Great recipe thank you !
I tried this today, turned out lovely 🙂 And it is not too complicated, so perfect for a lazy evening! Thank you again for a perfect recipe Manali.
Welcome! so glad you like it! 🙂
This was the second recipe I tried and I loved it that it turned out so well. I’ve become more confident of my culinary skills, thanks to your recipes.
Thanks it came out delicious 😋…
glad to know Nadeem!