Kadai Paneer is a very popular Punjabi dish and as the name suggests it is prepared in a “kadai – an indian wok”. Seasoned paneer, onion and colorful bell peppers tossed in a tangy creamy onion-tomato gravy mixed with freshly made spicy ground masala.
Recently I made it at home on demand from my husband and as he said “it is finger licking good”.
Cooking time: 50 mins
250 grams Paneer (Farmer Cheese),cut in 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp coriander seeds (dhane)
4 dry red chilies, medium size
2 tsp + 1 tbsp oil
½ onion, large size, chopped in 1 inch cubes
½ cup green bell pepper (capsicum), chopped in 1 inch cubes
½ cup red bell pepper (capsicum), chopped in 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
3 tomatoes, medium size
½ tsp red chili powder, or adjust as per spice tolerance
¼ tsp garam masala
8 tbsp cream
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
2 tbsp cilantro (coriander leaves, kothambir), for garnish
1½ tsp salt, or adjust as per taste
1. Cut paneer, ½ large onion, green and red bell pepper in 1 inch pieces.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil on high heat in a kadai, add cubed onions (layers separated) and fry them for 3 mins. Then transfer them onto a plate and keep aside.
3. In the same kadai, add 1 tsp oil, add to it cubed bell peppers and fry them for 5 mins on high heat. Then transfer them onto the same plate with onions on the side and keep aside.
4. Reduce the heat to low, add the paneer cubes in the kadai and sprinkle a little salt over it. Flip the paneer in 15-20 sec and in another 15 sec, remove from kadai. Transfer them on the same plate with onion, capsicum and keep aside.
5. Take coriander seeds and dry red chilies in a mixer and grind them together into a fine powder. Remove into bowl and keep aside.
6. Take 3 tomatoes in a container with a lid and microwave for 1½ min, warm enough until the tomatoes are tender.(Microwaving the tomatoes makes it easier to puree tomato skins). Then transfer them into a blender, let it cool down and then puree them until smooth. Remove into a bowl and keep aside.
7. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp ghee on medium heat in the same kadai. Add finely chopped onion and saute until they soften.
8. Once the onions soften, add ginger paste, garlic paste and saute for 1 min.
9. Then add the coriander-red chili powder to the kadai and saute for 2 mins until it gets fragrant.
10. Pour the tomato puree into the kadai and saute for 10 mins.
11. Add red chili powder, garam masala and mix well. Saute for 2 mins.
12. Add ¾ cup water and cream to the kadai. Mix everything together and bring to a boil.
13. Sprinkle dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and stir.
14. Then add sauteed cubed onion and bell pepper to the gravy and mix well. Then turn off heat.
15. Finally add paneer to the gravy and mix gently.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with roti or naan or rice.
spoonful O’ tips
1. Slightly toasting the paneer, makes its outer surface slightly hard and prevents it from breaking into pieces when tossed in the gravy.
2. Any kind of bell peppers can be used for this recipe.
3. Sauteed cubed onion and bell pepper must remain slightly crunchy.
4. Cashew nuts can be used as substitute for cream. Soak 9-10 cashews in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and grind in a blender adding 2 to 3 tbsp of water, or as needed to make a smooth fine paste.