Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer ~What’s in name?!
Past three weeks have been really testing and extremely busy week in MS household. First, HD got busy with mountain load of paper works needed for my in-law’s visa and then Lil Dumpling suddenly fell ill with severe cough and then gastroenteritis. Ah, the joys of sending your child to day care means seesawing between little runny nose to viral infections.
Suddenly, the usually free GP’s clinics were bursting with small and school kids who caught this nasty tummy bug. The nasty virus which usually takes 3-4 days to heal took double the time and our poor Lil dumpling lost his baby fat with in two days! Since it’s a food blog, I will not go through the gory details but all I can say is that it’s been really hard 3 weeks of our lives as a parent to suffering child! We would have been richer by few thousand dollars only if we had bought Pampers shares ;) I know it’s a bad joke. Well, what can you expect from a person who has been sleep deprived for ten plus days?
I belong to the category of mothers who cannot eat well if their kids don’t lick clean the food from their plates. Try, I did! I really, really tried to change but alas, failed miserably! Food just refuses to go down my throat and whatever I taste feels like saw dust when I know that my Lil Dumpling has half filled tummy! So it was nothing short of a nightmare when all Lil Dumpling had was just plain water and little bit of milk for one full week! After sleepless nights and long traumatic days, I rejoiced the day when Lil Dumpling finished 3/4th toast without throwing up! Touch wood, Lil dumpling has been eating and drinking well after being on liquid diet for all these days! I can see his face becoming rounder and those dimples on his cheeks are becoming deeper with each passing day. And that makes me really, really happy :)
Made using whole, aromatic spices ~ Kadai Paneer/Karahi Paneer
And there is one more thing that is making me happy these days, it is Lil Dumpling’s love for Paneer, an Indian cottage cheese! It is just recently that I introduced him to the joys of fresh homemade paneer. I have been using paneer in roties and as one of the ingredients in stuffed parathas and Lil Dumpling finishes his meal without me hovering around like a hawk to make sure he finishes his food. He has long before graduated from eating mild flavoured food and these days he likes to have little spice to his meals. So I have started serving him little spicy food and he eats them with gusto!
As for me, I have love-hate relationship with Paneer as I love the way it blends with any other ingredients and hate its effect on my waistline. But after surviving for soups, salads, dal and quick vegetables stir fries for three weeks, our taste buds begged for some exciting ingredients. Well, what more exciting can be than a block of fresh homemade Paneer to indulge in?! Since I couldn’t recollect the last time I cooked with paneer (yeah, it’s been really looooong time!), I was finding it difficult to decide on what to cook. After little brainstorming with HD (yes, we still do a lot of brainstorming when it comes to food), we zeroed on to Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer recipe as we both love this dish. This dish if full of texture and flavour and the piece of Paneer doesn’t get lost in thick, creamy gravy. Unlike Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala which has fresh cream and very creamy gravy base, Kadai Paneer is semi dry dish. And it doesn’t take very long time to cook Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer as it would for Malai Kofta or Paneer Kofta.
Simple, quick and delicious ~ Kadai Paneer/Karahi Paneer
The recipe uses whole spices instead of spice powders and hence the name Khada or Khara which also translates as whole. Traditionally onions and tomatoes are finely chopped and then cooked until they fall apart. Since I was short on time, I pureed the tomatoes which not only saved time from chopping but also reduces the cooking time. Two main ingredients, Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and Whole Coriander Seeds play a vital role as they not only give Kadai Paneer the flavour but also distinct aroma. Using fresh ingredients and aromatic spices, Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer is a crowd pleaser. And what more, making Kadai Paneer is a child’s play and it takes under 30 minutes to cook this exotic dish. The crunch of bell peppers compliments the softness of paneer and the sweet and spicy onion-tomato paste makes this Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer one exciting dish to serve with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice.
Ingredients used in making Kadai Paneer/Karahi Paneer
Kadai Paneer/Karahi Paneer
Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer (Semi dry spicy curry of Indian cottage cheese and green bell peppers served in creamy onion and tomato paste)
Prep Time: 5-10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Spice Level: Medium
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: 3-4 days when refrigerated
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice
200 grams or 2 cups Paneer, cut into 1 inch by 1 cm thick squares or triangles
2 medium Green Bell Peppers/Capsicum, deseeded and cut into 1 inch squares or triangles
1 large Onion, finely chopped or grated
1-2 Green Chillies, finely chopped (Adjust acc to taste)
3-4 large Tomatoes, finely chopped or pureed
1 heaped tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 heaped tbsp Tomato Paste
2 tbsp Oil/Ghee for frying the Paneer
3 heaped tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Green Cardamoms, lightly bruised
1 Bay Leaf
1-2 Dry Red Chillies, cut into 1 inch pieces
½-¾ tbsp Dhania/Coriander Seeds, coarsely crushed
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½-1 tsp Red Chilli Powder/Paprika (adjust acc to taste)
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves, crushed
Served with some delicious stuffed Parathas ~ Kadai Paneer/Karahi PaneerMethod:
- Heat oil/ghee in a pan on medium flame and arrange paneer pieces in single layer. After a minute, flip the paneer and let it cook on other side till it turns light shade of golden colour. Remove the paneer from pan and place them on a plate lined with kitchen towels. You can also dunk the fried paneer pieces in water to retain their soft texture. This step is optional and you can skip this step if you don’t like to pan fry the paneer.
- In the same oil/ghee, add cinnamon stick, cardamoms, bay leaf and cloves and sauté them for half a minute.
- Add cumin seeds and dry red chillies and let them cook for half a minute or till the cumin seeds starts to sizzle.
- Add finely chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till onions turns translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Mix in crushed dried fenugreek leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté till its raw smell disappears, about 2 mins, on medium flame.
- Next add bell peppers and stir fry them for two minutes.
- Add pureed tomatoes and let it come to a gentle boil, about 3-4 minutes. If using finely chopped tomatoes, simply cook till they turn pulpy and release their juice, about 4 minutes.
- Mix in red chilli powder, tomato paste, crushed coriander seeds and salt to taste and let the gravy cook for 2-3 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
- Add lightly fried paneer pieces and adjust the seasonings. Let the curry cook for 2-3 minutes before switching off the flame.
- Cover the pan and let it rest for at least 15 minutes for the paneer to absorb the heavenly flavours. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves if desired before serving this delicious Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice. Bliss!
Beautiful texture and wonderful flavours ~ Kadai Paneer/Karahi Paneer
- I simply didn’t add any Garam Masala and in its place I have used whole spices instead. The Khadi or Khara actually means whole, and hence whole spices are used in making any Khadai dishes.
- Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer is semi dry dish but you prefer gravy to semi-dry, simply add little water after cooking the pureed tomatoes to get required consistency.
- Two main ingredients, Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and whole coriander seeds play a vital role as they not only give Kadai Paneer the flavour but also distinct aroma. So please don’t miss these two ingredients.