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.
Paneer dunked in spicy onion & tomato gravy
- 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)
- Salt (sugar – to taste)
- Kasuri methi – 1 tbsp plus ½ tsp
- Cashew paste -3 tbsp OR fresh cream – 3 tbsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 ¾ tsp
- kadai masala (recipe below – optional)
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1 ¼ tsp (or kitchen king masala)
- Indian bread or toasted bread
- 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!
For homemade kadai masala, heat 1 tbsp oil (or dry roast) and fry 1 tbsp coriander seeds and 4 to 5 whole kashmiri dry red chillies till aroma emits/ roasted lightly. Remove from heat, cool and grind to coarse powder without water. Add to kadai gravy as per taste. In that case adjust/ add chilli and coriander powder only if needed.