Kadhai Paneer is a very popular vegetarian recipe that we love to order whenever we are eating out at a restaurant or a dhaba. Soft paneer or cottage cheese pieces are dunked in a flavourful base of onions, spices, tomatoes and green capsicum.
What sets kadhai paneer apart from other popular paneer preparations such as paneer butter masala, is the crunch in every bite. Onions, green capsicum and tomatoes are tossed in oil separately and added to the gravy right in the end.
These vegetables are cooked till they char a little from the sides and their crunch remains intact.
A lot of people assume kadhai paneer must be hard to prepare at home. But I have a recipe that can be followed easily and you can get restaurant like kadhai paneer right in your kitchen.
Let’s dive into the recipe.
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cook time – 30 minutes
Serves – 4
- 200 g paneer, cut into cubes
- Salt and a pinch of Kashmiri red chilli powder to marinate the paneer
- 2 tbsp oil – to fry the vegetables and the paneer
- 2 tbsp oil for the gravy
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cardamoms
- 3 black peppercorns, slightly crushed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup fresh tomato paste
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1/4 cup tomato, cut in cubes
- 1/2 cup capsicum, cut in cubes
- 1/2 cup onion, cut in large chunks and separated
- Salt to taste (for the gravy)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 tbsp freshly ground coriander powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Cut the paneer into cubes. Marinate with salt and red chilli powder.
- Heat oil in a kadhai. Fry the paneer cubes till slightly golden brown from all sides. Set aside for later.
- In the same kadhai, add some more oil.
- Add the onions and green capsicum. Fry on high flame for two to three minutes till they get slightly roasted in the hot oil. Set aside for later.
- Pour some more oil in the same kadhai. Temper with cumin seeds and let them crackle.
- Throw in the whole spices – bay leaf, dried red chilli, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Stir for ten seconds. Lower the flame to prevent burning.
- Add finely chopped onions and saute till the onions become tender. We do not want to brown the onions here, just cook them till they aren’t raw anymore.
- Once the onions turn translucent, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute this till the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic fades completely.
- Pour the fresh tomato paste into the onion mix. This tomato paste is raw and hence needs to be cooked for a while till its completely cooked.
- Cook the tomatoes on medium flame till they are completely cooked. The oil will start to release from the sides and that’s when you know the tomatoes are done.
- Season this masala with salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder and coriander powder. Mix well till the spices assimilate into the gravy.
- Pour hot water and let the gravy come to a boil. The tomatoes and onions should melt into the gravy. Add more water if required.
- Add some fresh cream to the gravy to thicken it, lighten its colour and make it decadent.
- Once the gravy is uniform and cooked completely, add diced tomatoes, fried onions, capsicum and fried paneer. Mix well.
- Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon at this stage.
- Finally, garnish with garam masala and crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
- Give it one last mix and enjoy with hot naans or tandoori roti.
Hope you try out this delicious recipe in your own kitchen.