Introduction: How to Make Kadai Paneer
Kadai paneer is a flavorful delight for our tastebuds. It is a rich and creamy explosion of taste in our mouths. It's a paneer (condensed cottage cheese) recipe made by cooking paneer and bell peppers with fresh ground spices. It is called Kadai paneer since it's cooked in a Kadai, an Indian wok.
However, it dish can be cooked without a Kadai just as I cooked it in a regular pan.
My Kadai paneer turns out to be immensely flavorful & I take pride in making it and serving it.
It can go well with Naan or RICE.
Prepare these and set aside.
1) 1 heaped cup onions (to saute)
2) 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
3) 1 more onion (separate the layers)
4) cube half cup bell pepper preferably the same size as paneer.
5) 2 cups of paneer cubes approximately about 250 grams (approx. 9 oz.)
Step 1: Blend Spices
add the following ingredients to a blender jar:
• 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 3 to 4 deseeded red chilies
• 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds. (more details in the recipe notes)
Pulse all of them to make a fine powder to suit your taste. Kadai masala is usually ground to a coarse powder. In this recipe, it gets cooked well in the gravy, so it does not come in the mouth even if it is made to a slightly coarse powder. Set this aside.
Step 2: Cook Onion & Tomatoes
Heat a pan with half a tablespoon oil on a high flame. Saute 1 heaped cup of cubed onions along with 6 to 7 split cashews until they turn transparent or lightly golden.
Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes and continue to saute on medium heat until tomatoes turn mushy and soft. If needed add little salt or cover and cook to fasten the cooking.
Let it cool down for a few minutes
Then add onion mixture to a blender jar
Blend it to smooth paste without adding water.
Step 3: Half-cook Bell-Pepper & Onions
Add another half tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat up on a high flame. To get the restaurant style smoky flavor, use the same pan used for sauteing onion tomatoes earlier. Add capsicum and onions, saute on a high flame just until half cooked (must remain crunchy). Constantly toss to prevent burning.
Add paneer, make sure it is not moist before you add. Toss it in the hot pan for 60 to 90 seconds on medium heat. Less than 2 mins. Do not overcook else the paneer turns hard. Transfer this mixture to a plate.
Step 4: Preparation for Gravy
Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat it on a medium flame. Saute ginger & garlic paste until the raw smell goes.
Add the ground spices made in the first step and saute it well on medium to low heat. We have not roasted the spices earlier so we need to do it well here until it turns aromatic & the raw flavor goes away.
Add onion tomato puree.
Saute it well for about 2 mins.
Optional: Add half tsp garam masala. You can add bay leaf while it's cooking. You can also add half tsp red chili powder just to bring a good color.
Next, saute well for 2 mins again. Since we have sauteed onions and tomatoes well in step 2, we don't need to cook the masala a lot.
Step 5: Making the Gravy
To the gravy, add 3/4 cup water and mix well. Bring this to a boil. If needed pour another 1/4 cup water.
Cook until the gravy turns thick and flavorful. Make sure the gravy doesn't look runny or watery. After boiling it well, you will see traces of oil on top of the gravy. Next towards the end add 3/4 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi.
Add the sauteed onion, capsicum, and paneer that we have set aside. Turn off the stove.
Mix well. Add chopped coriander leaves. Cover and set aside. Do not leave the stove on since it will continue to cook further. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Step 6: Let It Rest
Allow Kadai paneer to rest for at least 15 mins for the paneer to absorb flavors.
Your restaurant style Kadai Paneer is ready!