Kadai Paneer Recipe

Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer is a popular Indian paneer dish made with paneer, peppers and onions in a deliciously flavourful, spicy tomato-based gravy. It is a spicy, tangy, aromatic dish prepared with freshly ground Kadai Masala.

Kadai Paneer is named after an Indian cooking vessel ‘kadai’. It is similar to a Chinese wok, but with steeper sides and more depth. This recipe was traditionally cooked in a kadai hence is called ‘Kadai Paneer’ or ‘Karahi Paneer’.

There are two versions of Kadai Paneer – Gravy version and Semi-Dry Version. I am sharing the semi-dry version which you will find in most North Indian Restaurants and in this one the tomato masala coats the paneer, peppers and onions.
To make Kadai Paneer the most important part of the recipe is to make the special spice blend called ‘kadai masala’. Whole spices are dry roasted and then ground together to make this aromatic masala. This masala is slightly different to the garam masala, and I would highly recommend making it fresh for this recipe.

Kadai Paneer is one of my husband’s favourite dishes. He loves paneer and often orders this dish when we dine out. Serve Kadai Paneer with a homemade Plain Naan or Tandoori Lachha Paratha or Onion Coriander Tandoori Roti to make it a complete delicious Indian meal.
Due to its texture, paneer makes an excellent addition in many Indian recipes like Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Hara Pyaaz , Methi Paneer, Paneer 65, Methi Lasuni Paneer, Schezwan Paneer, Paneer Jalfrezi, Paneer Kali Mirch and to name a few.


For Green Chilli Paste
3-4 green chillies
1 inch ginger piece
6-7 garlic cloves

For Kadai Masala
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4-5 dry red Kashmiri chillies
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
10-12 black peppercorns

For The Gravy
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 cups tomato puree
Salt to taste
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ginger julienne
1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons coriander leaves

For Sautéing
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup onion cubes
1 cup green pepper cubes
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
Salt to taste
½ cup tomato in big pieces
1 cup paneer cubes



Grind the green chillies, ginger and garlic cloves into a smooth paste.


Dry roast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, dry red chillies, coriander seeds and black peppercorns on low heat for 3-4 minutes or until the spices turn slightly golden.

Once slightly golden turn the heat off and grind them to a fine powder.


Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add the onions and sauté on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Next add the prepared ginger garlic chilli paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes.


Next add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder, tomato puree and salt. Cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes and then add the water. Once the water comes to a boil, cover and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes.


After 10-12 minutes add the prepared spice powder, ginger juliennes and kasuri methi and garam masala. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat to infuse the gravy with the spices.


For sautéing the vegetables, heat oil in a pan and add the onions and green pepper. Sauté them on high heat for 1-2 minutes and add the red chilli powder, salt, tomatoes and paneer and sauté everything together for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. We are just cooking the vegetables al dente as we want them to have a bite to them.


Add the sautéed vegetables, cream and coriander to the gravy and mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes and serve hot with Mint and Sesame Lachha Paratha, Tandoori Lachha Paratha, Onion Coriander Tandoori Roti, Plain Naan and/ or rice.

Tips & Variations

  1. I would highly recommend making fresh kadai masala for this recipe. The freshly ground spices make a huge difference.
  2. I always add some ginger juliennes while it is cooking as it makes the recipe more aromatic and flavourful.
  3. I prefer to dry roast the Kashmiri red chillies as it gives flavour and colour to the gravy without making it spicy.
  4. If the tomatoes are slightly sour, you can add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavours.
  5. The peppers, onions and tomatoes at the end are only cooked for 1-2 minutes as we want to keep a keep to them.
  6. Paneer can be substituted with Tofu for vegan version.