Kadai paneer is one of the most popular dishes for Indian takeout other than Paneer Makhani and Shahi Paneer. The primary protein ingredient in this dish is paneer. The pan-fried Indian cheese gives this quick recipe a terrific flavor and texture. Even meat eaters will enjoy this vegetarian curry recipe because of the delectable sauce and the wonderful, smooth paneer texture.
WHAT IS PANEER?
Indian cheese known as paneer is made by combining curdled milk with a fruit or vegetable acid, such as lemon juice. Paneer has 3 basic distinctive characteristics – it is unaged, soft cheese and it does not melt. You can consume Paneer as a meal, a snack, or even for breakfast.
And although though cheese might not seem like a typical breakfast food, you gotta try it before forming an opinion about it!
There are several explanations about the origins of paneer, the oldest and most popular of which dates back to 16th century when Persian and Afghani kings in Southeast Asia introduced it. No matter where it comes from, paneer is an important and delightful feature of the Indian diet. For more history on Paneer, follow this link.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHAHI, BUTTER MASALA AND KADAI PANEER
The main ingredient for all 3 types of paneer dishes is “Paneer”, “Tomatoes” & “Onions”. The difference lies in the thickness of the sauce, quantity of cream used & of course, the spice level.
- Shahi Paneer – This paneer dish is a mild or less spicy, made with onions, tomatoes and cream; looks yellow or orangish in color. The word Shahi literally translates to “Royal“
- Paneer Butter Masala – Also known as Paneer Makhani, this perhaps is one of the popular paneer recipes in india and abroad. This paneer dish is minimally spicy with a sweetness to it. It is also uses onions, tomatoes, a generous amount of cream and butter. Point to note is, no oil is used while sautéing onions or tomatoes… only butter!
- Kadai Paneer – The word Kadai refers to the cooking utensil in which this dish is prepared. Kadai is the Indian version of Chinese “wok” generally used to cook Asian food like noodles. This dish is more spicy than the above two. The gravy base used for this dish again is, onions and tomato. What makes it different from the rest of the paneer dishes is the “kadai masala”.
- This masala or spice mix uses 4 main ingredients – Kashmiri red chilies (from the northern most region of India called Kashmir), cumin seeds (zeera), coriander seeds and black pepper. Typically this dish also has 1″ cubed green bell pepper and onion along with paneer chunks.
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It improves in flavor as it sits, making it an excellent restaurant-style entrée to prepare in bulk. Store any leftover Kadai paneer in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can freeze it in an airtight container or freezer safe bag with the air removed for up to 1 month. When ready to serve, thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
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- 1¼ Cups Bell peppers
- 1¾ Cups Paneer, Fresh Cheese Curd
- 1¼ Cups Onion
- 2½ Cups Tomatoes
- 2½ Tbsp. Garlic & ginger
- 1¾ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Red chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. Cumin seeds, roasted and powdered
- 1¼ tsp Garam masala
- 2 Tbsp. Kasuri methi, Fenugreek leaves
- 1½ Tbsp. Coriander powder
- 3 Tbsp. Milk
- 2 Tbsp. Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- Chop the Bell Peppers into 1-inch cubes
- Cut paneer/ cheese curds into 1-inch cubes
- Roughly chop the tomatoes
- Cut onions into 1-inch cubes
- Finely chop the garlic & ginger
- In a pan put oil, butter and add finely chopped ginger-garlic
- Saute ginger-garlic on medium heat till it turns light brown
- Add red chili powder and turmeric powder followed by cut onions
- Cook the onions till translucent
- Add tomatoes and salt, stir for 2 minutes on high heat and cover with the lid
- Cook for 3-4 minutes still the tomatoes turn mushy
- Add the Bell Peppers, cook for 2 minutes on high heat
- Cover the lid and cook the Bell Peppers on medium heat for 3 minutes
- Add coriander powder, garam masala. Mix thoroughly and cover to cook for 1 minute
- Add cubed paneer, mix thoroughly and cover to cook for 1 minute
- Add kasoori methi, mix thoroughly and cook for 2 minutes
- Add 3 Tbsp of milk, cover to cook for 1 more minute.
- Kadai Paneer is ready to be served
- Use butter for restaurant-style flavor.
- Cook masala paste till the oil releases, this helps to enhance the flavor.
- You can cut paneer to the shape of your choice, I prefer triangular shape.
- The original recipe uses green bell peppers. I however, also make use of red & yellow bell peppers that gives a sweet, citrusy flavor to the dish.
- Try to prepare fresh kadai masala for an aromatic gravy.
- To make gravy variation of this recipe, use a couple more tomatoes, half an onion and add some water in the end to make gravy.
- I have used powdered spices for this recipe but I prefer to dry roast whole spices to make fresh spice mix for this dish. The recipe card for spice mix coming soon to our website.
- Serve it with garlic naan, tandoori roti, plain parantha, rumali roti, or rice.
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