Kadai Paneer | How to make kadai paneer

Kadai Paneer | How to make kadai paneer

Kadai Paneer is a spicy and aromatic curry made with fresh onion and tomato base gravy and soft Indian cottage cheese.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat paneer. The memories goes back to eating out in indian restaurants with friends or family, kadai paneer would always make it to our table. 

I love to eat paneer as a vegetarian option, and most Indians love paneer. It is something considered satisfying like the cheese to the italians. I make paneer butter masala, palak paneer with paneer usually at home. Recently I started loving this kadai paneer recipe.

Also check out my kadai tofu if you want to make a quicker version. This recipe is quiet legit, I did my homework and after trials I am happy with the kadai masala used in the recipe. 

I have seen many recipes having a last step of smoking the kadai paneer masala to add a dhaba style flavour to it. The recipe I have shared may not be the authentic version, but it tastes delicious.

What is kadai masala ? 

Kadai masala

So what is ‘kadai’ first, kadai means wok in india. And kadai paneer is indian cottage cheese (paneer) cooked in onion and tomato gravy. But, what makes it different is the freshly ground kadai masala. This is the flavour bomb of the recipe.

The spices are slow roasted and ground to a coarse mixture and then added to the paneer. I love adding the coarse masala towards the end of the recipe. So the flavors are retained and fresh. 

  • Corriander Seeds
  • BLack pepper 
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Elachi or cardamom 
  • Cloves 
  • Dry red chillies 


Paneer is a popular vegetarian protein source in India. And I have seen my north indian friends having paneer dishes almost every other day ! This recipe also has bell peppers which adds more nutrition to the recipe. When I read that we have eat all the rainbows colored vegetables, bell peppers were the first one I look forward to add.

Jist of recipe 

  • First roast and ground the fresh kadai masala and grind it to a coarse powder 
  • The bell peppers are flash cooked for a few minutes so they remain crunchy.
  • Heat a pan add ghee and butter or oil and cumin seeds. 
  • Cook, onions and tomatoes, ginger garlic paste with Add in the spice powders (I have additionally added some Kashmiri Red chilli powder to bring out the colour, you can skip it, or choose to add paprika for colour)
  • Loosen the curry base with water, add the paneer pieces and the flash cooked bell peppers. 
  • Add in the ground kadai masala and cover and cook until all flavors are infused. 

Serving Suggestions

Add in the ground kadai masala and cover and cook until all flavors are infused. 

Eat this kadai paneer with Chapathi or Roti or Garlic naan (without yeast). It also goes well with plain basmati rice or jeera rice. I sometimes use it as a filling in my sandwiches in the morning with a little extra cheese it tastes delicious. 

Prep work

  1. Cube the bell peppers, Onions,

2. Chop the onions finely and puree the tomatoes for the curry base and keep it ready

3. Grate the ginger garlic paste.

4. Keep all the Ingredients required to make the kadai masala for roasting and grinding. 

5. Soak the paneer pieces in warm water, incase of frozen paneer. 

Vegan Versions

You can use Tofu in the place of paneer. Check out my instant kadai masala ( Which is fool proof ! ) I use it to make kadai tofu

You can always perk us the dish with the vegetables available. Traditionally, kadai paneer is a combination of bell peppers and onions with paneer, I think any hard vegetable like carrot, baby corn, green beans would suit this recipe. 

Video recipe 

Tips & Notes :

If you want to make it less spicy, reduce the number of red chillies in the kadai masala.

Some of them I have seen add cashew paste or fresh cream to it. You can always add some if you wish to. 

Kasuri Methi – Usually is a part of the recipe, and it can be added. It tastes amazing with it .. 

You can use fresh or frozen paneer. Incase you don’t have access to fresh paneer like me. I use frozen paneer soaked in warm water for about 15-20 minutes before use. It helps in absorbing the flavors of the kadai masalas.

I like to add a bit of sugar or honey to my spicy recipes to actually bring out the flavors. Don’t skip the sugar. Alternatively, you can also use honey in its place. 

Storage and shelf life 

This kadai paneer stores really well in the fridge so it is an ideal recipe for meal prep for busy people. It lasts great for about 4 days.

The kadai masala can be prepared ahead and stored in air tight container for about a month to retain its flavor. 

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and share a picture and tag it #soulsomecooking on Instagram or facebook so I can see it.

Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 4 people


  • Oil as needed
  • Red capsicum cubed
  • Green capsicum cubed
  • Red Onion cubed
  • 1 green Chilli
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Large Tomatoes puree
  • 1 Finely chopped onions
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
  • 300 gms Paneer
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1/2 cup water

Kadai Masala :

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 5-6 Dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod


  • Heat a pan and add 2 tsp of oil and roast all the ingredients under kadai masala until fragrant. Be careful not to burn it. Cool it down and grind it to a coarse powder and keep it ready.
  • In the same pan, add 3 tsps of oil and heat it to medium to high flame. Add the cubed onions, red capsicum, green capsicum and sauté it on high flame for about 1 minute until the veggies are slightly charred and cooked while still crunchy. Transfer it to a plate and keep it aside.
  • Heat the same pan on medium flame, add 2 tsp oil, add cumin seeds, green chillies and sauté for a 30 seconds. Next add in chopped onions a little salt and cook the onions until soft. add little water to deglaze the pan.
  • Next add the tomato puree, ginger garlic paste and cook the tomatoes in onion until slightly dry ( be careful not to burn it)
  • Next add the spice powders – red chilli, coriander, garam masala and sauté for a few seconds.
  • Add about 1/2 cup fo water and cook for 2 minutes until it comes to a simmer. Next toss in the paneer cubes and the ground kadai masala, kasuri methi and stir it in.
  • Adjust 1/4 cup more water if needed to make more gravy. Finally toss in the charred capsicums and onions into the kadai paneer masala and cover and cook for about 5 mins on medium flame.
  • Turn off the flame and serve it hot with roti or Rice
Keyword kadai paneer, north indian side dish, Paneer Recipes, Side dish for Roti

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