Kadai Paneer

3.97 from 27 votes

Kadai Paneer (Kadhai Paneer, Karahi Paneer) is a popular Indian curry made using paneer, onions, and green bell peppers cooked in spicy and flavorful gravy made using freshly ground kadai masala. It is one of the most popular dishes ordered in any Indian restaurant. Learn to make it at home using my easy recipe.

Kadai Paneer served in a bowl.
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About Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer (Kadhai Paneer, Karahi Paneer) is one of the most popular paneer recipes in northern India.

Kadai = a large and shallow cooking pot, and paneer = Indian cottage cheese.

Kadhai paneer is paneer, onions, and green bell pepper cubes cooked in a spicy onion-tomato-based gravy flavored with a freshly ground homemade kadai masala spice mix.

This special spice powder gives this curry a very unique flavor.

You will find this delicious recipe on the menu of almost every North Indian Restaurant. But let me tell you, this is a super simple recipe that can be made using a few basic ingredients in the comfort of your home.

You can make it with gravy, dry or semi-dry; that’s totally up to you. This dish can also be made without onion and garlic. I am sharing the methods below, so keep reading.

I also share a technique to make the curry super smoky, just like the one you get at your favorite restaurant.

This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Here are some more paneer recipes that you may like: Paneer Tikka Masala, Lahsooni Methi Paneer, Paneer Masala, Restaurant Style Palak Paneer, and Paneer Pasanda.

You must also try Restaurant Style Paneer Tikka Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Bhurji, Paneer Kathi Roll, and Dry Paneer Bhurji.

Ingredients

Kadai Masala Ingredients
Kadai paneer ingredients 1
Kadai paneer ingredients 2

Kadai Masala – The curry gets its flavor from freshly ground kadai masala.

You will need whole spices like whole coriander seeds, whole dry red chilies, fennel seeds (saunf), cumin seeds, cloves (laung), black cardamoms (badi elaichi), black peppercorns (kali mirch), and cinnamon sticks (dalchini) to make it.

Paneer is the star ingredient of this recipe. It is Indian cottage cheese that is very different from the regular cottage cheese that you get commonly.

It is readily available in any Indian grocery store in their refrigerator or freezer section. Paneer is also available in many large grocery stores (Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc) in the refrigerator section.

If using frozen paneer, thaw it until it is soft.

Sometimes, the store-bought paneer is hard and chewy. In that case, soak it in warm water for 10 minutes before using it in the recipe.

Green Bell Peppers (Capsicum) – These add a lovely crunch to the gravy. You can also use mixed bell peppers.

Onions are required in 2 different ways: cubed and petals separated and finely chopped.

Spice Powders – You need Kashmiri red chili powder and garam masala powder. You can also add a little turmeric powder for a brighter curry color.

Tomatoes – Tomatoes add a lovely tang to the curry. You will need finely chopped ripe tomatoes and canned tomato puree. You can replace tomato puree with tomato paste but reduce its quantity as it is more concentrated.

Oil – You can use any cooking oil to make the curry. A little ghee is added at the end to give it a rich flavor.

Others – You will also need green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

You can also add some Kasuri Methi at the end for extra taste and flavor.

To make it richer, add some unsweetened heavy cream at the end.

How To Make Kadai Paneer

Preparation

Rinse 8 oz (250 g) paneer, 1 large green bell pepper, and 1 large onion and cut them into 1-inch cubes.

Note – If using frozen paneer, make sure to thaw it.

Finely chop 1 medium red onion and 1 large tomato and slit 2-3 green chilies into half.

Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make Kadai Masala

Add the following ingredients to a small skillet.

  • 2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 3-4 Kashmiri dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 5-6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
Spices added to a skillet.

Dry roast on medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant (3-4 minutes), stirring continuously.

Remove the skillet from the heat and let the spices cool slightly.

Add them to a grinder or a food processor and grind them to make a fine powder. Your kadai masala is ready.

Tip – You can also make a big batch of this masala and keep using it for up to a month.

Roasted spices added to a grinder.
Smooth powder made.

Make Kadai Paneer Curry

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over high heat.

1 tablespoon oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, add

  • 1 cup cubed onions (1-inch cubes, petals separated)
  • 1 cup cubed green bell peppers (1-inch pieces)

and saute until they are slightly charred (3-4 minutes). You want them to be slightly crunchy.

Remove on a plate and set aside.

Sauteed onions and bell peppers.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoon oil in the same pan and heat it on medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, add ½ cup finely chopped onions and cook until they are lightly browned (4-5 minutes), stirring frequently.

Onions frying in hot oil.

Add 2-3 green chilies (slit into half) and 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and cook until onions turn golden brown (6-8 minutes). Stir frequently while frying.

Green chilies and ginger garlic paste added to the pan.

Now add

  • ¼ cup canned tomato puree (or 2 tablespoon tomato paste)
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes

and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Tomato puree and tomatoes added to the pan.

Add the following ingredients to the pan and mix well.

  • ground kadai masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Kadai masala, salt, red chili powder and garam masala powder added to the pan.

Add half a cup of water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir at regular intervals.

Little water added to the pan.

Finally, add 8 oz (250 g) paneer (cut into 1-inch cubes), sauteed onions and bell peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add some hot water if the gravy is too thick.

Paneer and sauted donions and bell peppers added to the pan.

Cook until oil separates from the sides (2-3 minutes).

Note – This recipe will make semi-dry gravy. If you want more gravy, then add some hot water and bring the curry to a boil. If you want it dry, then cook it for a few minutes until the curry is dry.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

Add 1 tablespoon ghee and 1 tablespoon lime juice and mix well.

Serve hot.

Ghee and lime juice added to the pan.
Ready kadai paneer.

Secret Technique For Smoky Flavor

You can give a smoky flavor to your kadhai paneer by using the dungar method.

Do not skip this smoking step if you want that restaurant-like taste in your homemade Kadai Paneer curry. But if you are in a hurry and want to make it without smoking, go ahead. It will still taste very good.

Heat a piece of charcoal or a whole cinnamon stick for 5-6 minutes over an open flame until it is red hot. Using a tong, keep rotating it so it heats evenly on all sides.

Keep a piece of aluminum foil over the curry and keep the piece of hot coal over it. Pour 1 tablespoon ghee on the hot coal and close the lid for 15-20 minutes. Open the lid, discard the coal, and stir the curry.

Pro Tips By Neha

This recipe always tastes best when kept for one day. So you can make it one day in advance and reheat it when serving it.

Smoke the finished curry to get the restaurant-style smoky taste. If making it for everyday eating, you can skip smoking the gravy. Reserve the flavor for special occasions.

You can make the kadai masala powder in a big batch and store it for later.

If you like your gravy thin, add more water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then cover and let it rest for at least an hour before serving.

Variations

Vegan – To make a vegan kadhai paneer, you can replace the paneer with tofu and ghee with coconut oil.

No Onion No Garlic – Skip adding these two ingredients and keep the rest of the recipe the same.

With Other Veggies – You can add sliced mushrooms, peas, cauliflower, etc to this curry along with paneer.

Serving Suggestions

Restaurant Style Kadai Paneer tastes great with any Indian bread like Roti, Lachha Paratha, Tandoori Roti, Butter Naan, Garlic Naan, or Plain Tawa Paratha

You can make the gravy a little thinner and serve it with Steamed Rice, Jeera Rice, or Veg Pulao.

Storage Suggestions

This curry will last in the fridge for 2 to 3 days when stored in an airtight container. Reheat it in a pan or microwave until nice and hot.

If you plan to freeze it, I recommend you freeze the gravy without adding paneer. When ready to serve, thaw the curry, heat it well, add paneer cubes, cook it for 2-3 minutes, and serve.

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Kadai Paneer (Kadhai Paneer, Karahi Paneer) is a popular Indian curry made using paneer, onions, and green bell peppers cooked in spicy and flavorful gravy made using freshly ground kadai masala. It is one of the most popular dishes ordered in any Indian restaurant. Learn to make it at home using my easy recipe (vegetarian, gluten-free).
3.97 from 27 votes

Restaurant Style Kadai Paneer Recipe

Kadai Paneer (Kadhai Paneer, Karahi Paneer) is a popular Indian curry made using paneer, onions, and green bell peppers cooked in spicy and flavorful gravy. Learn to make it at home using my easy recipe.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

For Kadai Masala

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3-4 Kashmiri dry red chilies (stalks removed)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-3 cloves (laung)
  • 2 black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
  • 5-6 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)

For The Curry

  • 4 tablespoons oil (divided)
  • 1 cup cubed green bell peppers (1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup cubed onions (1-inch cubes, petals separated)
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup canned tomato puree (or 2 tablespoon tomato paste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 8 ounces paneer (250 g, cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
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Instructions 

Make Kadai Masala

  • Add all the ingredients to a small skillet.
  • Dry roast on medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant (3-4 minutes), stirring continuously.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and let the spices cool slightly.
  • Add them to a grinder or a food processor and grind them to make a fine powder. Your kadai masala is ready.

Make Kadai Paneer Curry

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add cubed onions and cubed green bell peppers and saute until they are slightly charred (3-4 minutes). You want them to be slightly crunchy.
  • Remove on a plate and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining 3 tablespoon oil and heat it on medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add chopped onions and cook until they are lightly browned (4-5 minutes), stirring frequently.
  • Add green chilies and ginger garlic paste and cook until onions turn golden brown in color (6-8 minutes). Stir frequently while frying.
  • Now add tomato puree and chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the ground kadai masala powder, salt, chili powder, and garam masala powder, and mix well.
  • Add ½ cup of water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir at regular intervals.
  • Finally, add paneer and the sauteed onions and bell peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add some hot water if the gravy is too thick.
  • Cook until oil starts to separate from the sides (2-3 minutes).
  • Note – This recipe will make semi-dry gravy. If you want more gravy, then add some hot water and bring the curry to a boil. If you want it dry, then cook it for a few minutes until the curry is dry.
  • Check for salt and add more if needed.
  • Add ghee and lime juice and mix well.
  • Serve hot.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Make Smoky Curry – Heat a piece of coal or a whole cinnamon stick over direct flame for 5-6 minutes until red hot. Keep rotating it using a tong so it heats evenly on all sides. Keep a piece of aluminum foil over the curry and keep the piece of hot coal over it. Pour 1 tablespoon ghee on the hot coal and close the lid for 15-20 minutes. Open the lid, discard the coal, and stir the curry.
If using frozen paneer, thaw it until it is soft.
If you like your gravy thin, add more water. Please bring it to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then cover and let it rest for at least an hour before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 363kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Sodium: 113mg, Potassium: 321mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 825IU, Vitamin C: 57.5mg, Calcium: 343mg, Iron: 1.4mg
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Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I made this for dinner today! If was pretty good. I used chopped green bell pepper and chopped purple onion in it. I will say that I would skip the peppercorn next time because I wasn’t a fan of the back spice it gave the dish, but I overall really liked the spices in this. Tasted similar in spice complexity to really good kadai paneer I’ve had at restaurants! I think I would add a bit more of the chopped onions+tomato+ tomato paste next time to make the gravy a bit chunkier [granted, I added extra water]. This made 5 servings. The lemon really added a good flavor and cut the spice a little. I paired it with some garlic naan, and it was a pretty good meal.

  2. 5 stars
    I am kind of foodie and i just love paneer dishes and this karahi paneer recipe looks delicious thanks a lot for posting this and currently i am working on my project dtdc plus tracking and whenever i will get spare time from that i will surely visit your site for more recipes.

  3. Not a Paneer fan as such but the smoky flavour gives a separate flavour and elevates the dish. I am observing a recent change in all your recipes where are you are sharing pictures of the preparation.
    I think that makes it more helpful

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Neha… I love cooking.. But im not as much perfect in your level of cooking…. but i will definitely try this… I haven’t tried any paneer dishes before… Now the time has come.. here prize goes to your pictures.. that made me crazy about this… ohhhh!!!! yummy.. anyway thnx for your recipe, keep posting..

  5. 5 stars
    Wow. Perfect restaurant style kadai dish. I never tried giving smoke to my recipes till now. Want to try after seeing this yummy preparation. Can u just guide me where can I find coal in Bangalore. Feeling confused seeing lots of coal varieties online. Don’t know which one to buy.