Kadai paneer is a delicious & elegant Indian dish made with Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), peppers & onions. Cooked in a tomato gravy and seasoned with an aromatic Indian spice blend, called Kadai Masala, this is a real crowd pleaser in most Indian restaurants and homes.
This is my take on a classic. Here I have recreated the magic using easily available ingredients and cooked it in 15 minutes, hence the name 15-Minute Kadai Paneer. This recipe is on repeat menu in my home. Our favorite way of eating this deliciousness it to roll this mix in a warmed whole-wheat tortilla and enjoy a quick and tasty Kadai Paneer Wrap.
One-Pot / One-Pan Recipe
15-Minute Kadai Paneer is one of the simplest recipes I make. The 5 minutes of prep and under 10 minutes of cooking time makes it ideal for weeknights. This easy to follow recipe comes together in ONE-PAN. A wide Skillet or Fry Pan is all you need to make it. You can even make this in your Instant Pot, using the SAUTE feature.
What is a Kadai Paneer?
This dish is traditionally prepared in an Indian ‘wok’, called kadai, thus giving it’s name. Kadai style of cooking is very similar to Stir-Fry method of cooking. Fresh ingredients are lightly stir-fried and a master sauce is used to bind the dish together.
In this recipe, I blend crushed, or pureed, tomatoes with tomato paste and a touch of yogurt, and add it to the sautéed paneer and peppers. The tartness in the yogurt cuts through the sweet and dense tomato flavor really well. I season the mix with earthy and floral Indian spices, like garam masala, coriander powder and dried fenugreek leaves. The result is a delicious entree with perfectly balanced flavors.
Many restaurants use heavy cream or a cashew paste to give a rich taste and finish to Kadai Paneer. I prefer using Greek Yogurt, as it provides the same richness, yet keeps this dish light and healthy.
Like most Indian spice blends, there are a lot of variations in this recipe. Typically, it includes dry red chili, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, fennel and one of the main flavor boosters, dried fenugreek leaves, also called kasoori Methi.
Most of these spices are included in my master spice blend, Homemade Garam Masala, so I just add the dried fenugreek leaves and create the kadai flavors in this dish, without any extra effort. This shortcut is ideal for last minute and weeknight meals.
When I do have the time, here’s how I make Kadai Masala from scratch:
I toast the following spices in a skillet for 2 minutes, stirring in between. Then, I cool these spices for about 15 minutes, and grind them to a semi-fine consistency, using my handy Krups Coffee Grinder.
- 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Chili Flakes
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorn
- 4-5 Green Cardamom Pods, de-seeded
- 2 teaspoon Fenugreek Leaves / Kasoori Methi (I add this towards the end and then just pulse 2-3 times)
Customizing the quantity of sauce in 15-Minute Kadai Paneer
In this recipe, I have made a semi-dry variation of Kadai paneer. To add more gravy/sauce in this dish, simply increase the quantity of crushed or pureed tomatoes to 1 cup, and add another tablespoon of Greek yogurt. You’ll have a delicious rich sauce in the end.
Serving Suggestions for Kadai Paneer
This dish is versatile enough to be served as an appetizer or as an entree. To serve this as an appetizer, I make mini-skewers using Cocktail Picks. Here’s how I load each Cocktail Picks— onion, pepper, paneer, pepper, onion. I serve this with Cilantro Chutney and it’s always a hit.
My kids loves wrapping some in a warm whole-wheat tortilla and enjoy it as a Kadai Paneer Wrap. You can serve this with Cumin Rice, or Naan/Roti, serve it with a side of Cucumber Raita, and enjoy a delicious Indian Vegetarian meal. For a low-carb option, my husband and I love to have it with a large garden salad, dressed with fresh lime juice and chaat masala.
Cucumber Raita (Yogurt Dip)
Some more popular Paneer entrees
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15-Minute Kadai paneer is a delicious & elegant dish made with Paneer, peppers & onions. Seasoned with fragrant Indian spices, this is a real crowd pleaser.
- 1 tablespoon light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon panchpuran
- 1/2 inch ginger grated fine
- 3 cloves garlic grated or chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 10 oz paneer cubed
- 1 green pepper cubed
- 1 yellow pepper cubed
- 1 medium onion cubed
- 2 green chilies slit in the middle and left whole
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup crushed tomato about 1 medium tomato
- 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
Turn on SAUTE. Wait till it reads 'Hot' and add oil and Panchpuran. Let it sizzle for 10 seconds, add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds.
Add cubed onions, peppers and paneer and saute for 1 minute. Add vinegar, salt and spices, and saute for 1-2 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together, tomato paste, crushed tomato, yogurt and water. Add it to the pot and stir. Cover the pot and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off Saute and garnish with chopped cilantro. Alternatively, you can cook this on 0 mins Manual/Pressure Cook followed by a Quick Release (QR).
Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil and Panchpuran. Let it sizzle for 10 seconds, add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds.
Add cubed onions, peppers and paneer and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add vinegar, salt and spices, and saute for 1-2 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together, tomato paste, crushed tomato, yogurt and water. Add it to the skillet and stir. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.