Paneer kadai has soft chunks of paneer immersed in a spicy tomato-onion based masala.
By Prathima Rao
A kadai is a deep, thick, circular cooking pot with a rounded bottom similar to a wok. Traditionally kadai made of cast iron were used but today they are even made of stainless steel. The `kadai` is used for deep frying. Some gravy based dishes are also made in a kadai. And the paneer kadai is one such dish.
Paneer kadai has soft chunks of paneer immersed in a spicy tomato-onion based masala. They are usually semi dry but variations can be made as per taste. The dominant spices in a kadai gravy is coriander and dry red chillies. They are both lightly roasted and pounded in a mortar and pestle or a mixer coarsely and added to gravy. Capsicum is another ingredient that is a must in a kadai gravy.
While there are days I make a kadai gravy with freshly ground tomato paste, I sometimes rely on this simplified version for equally satisfying results. Here you may pound the the coriander-red chillies and add or if short of time opt for chilli powder and coriander powder straight from your spice rack. This dry kadai masala of coriander and chillies can be made in larger quantities and stored for few days and use when required.
And not to forget, this dish is perfect for your buffet table!
- Paneer cubes – 200 gms
- Capsicum – 1 small
- Green chillies -1-2
- Vegetable oil – 3-4 tbsp
- Onions – 2 medium to big
- Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
- Dry red chilli – 1, chopped and deseeded
- Tomato puree –150 ml (tetra pack) OR about 3-4 big tomatoes pureed to get 1 cup
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1 ¼ tsp (or kitchen king masala)
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 ¾ tsp
- kadai masala (recipe below) - optional
- Salt, sugar – to taste
- Kasuri methi – 1 tbsp plus ½ tsp
- Cashew paste -3 tbsp OR cream 3 tbsp
- Wash capsicum and cut into medium cubes. Slit the green chillies. Peel and cube onions and grind to a paste. Grind about 2 tbsp cashew to a paste with little water if adding.
- Heat 1-2 tsp oil in a thick bottom pan/ non stick pan (else paneer will stick to pan), sauté together capsicum, slit chillies, paneer cubes and 1 tsp kasuri methi lightly till you get the aroma of capsicum. Remove and set aside.
- To make gravy, heat 3 to 4 tbsp oil in a saucepan or kadai. Add onion paste and fry till oil starts to separate. Add ginger garlic paste, chopped dry red chilli and fry 1 minute.
- Add turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder/ kadai masala if adding, sauté 30 seconds.
- Add tomato puree. Mix and sauté for 5 mins or till oil separates.
- Add cashew paste if adding, little water for some gravy and cook for a minute.
- Add fried paneer-capsicum, salt, ½ tsp sugar, kasuri methi, garam masala. Stir and simmer for few mins. Do not cook for too long.
- Lastly add cream if adding, mix once and remove from heat.
- Serve hot with naan, kulchas, tandoori rotis, phulkas, roomali rotils, chapathis. Or try serving on top of toasted bread too!
Born and brought up in South India amongst hard core food enthusiasts. Cooking and food has always been a part of Prathima’s growing years with every family gathering accompanied by a scrumptious and elaborate meal. Now, traditional vegetarian food of her community has paved way to contemporary and quicker dishes.