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  • Writer's pictureRashmi Gharat

Kadai Chicken | Kadhai Chicken

Updated: Apr 16

Big on flavours and spiciness, scrumptious Kadai Chicken uses freshly pounded spices. This chicken curry is prepared in a Kadai (Indian wok) where tender chicken pieces and sautéed onions and green peppers are immersed in a mouth-watering onion tomato gravy.

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Kadai Chicken originated in north western parts of India / South Asia, but its popularity soon creeped outside the boundaries and is now available in many restaurants across the globe. This delicious Chicken Curry is full of flavoursome spices and goes perfectly well with some Naans / Parathas (Indian Flat Breads) or some plain boiled rice.

Learn how to make Kadai Chicken in this quick, easy to follow video below:

Let it marinate

When preparing any Indian Chicken dishes, its better to apply some basic spices and salt to chicken pieces and let it sit and marinate for a while. By doing this the flavours of the spices will seep deep into the flesh. Applying salt will help to tenderise the chicken so that it’s nice and soft after its cooked.

Pounding not grinding

Kadai Chicken is made with a blend of spices. But to derive maximum flavour from the spices, you need to roast them first until golden and aromatic and then pound them to a coarse powder, just before making the chicken.

I can’t stress the importance of using freshly roasted and pounded spices, they really will lift any ordinary dish and take it to a whole new level which pre-packed, store-bought spices just won’t.

But remember, spices do burn quickly so roast them on low heat only whilst keeping a close eye on them.

And again, please pound them and don’t grind them in a mixer. Pounding them coarsely will add a gritty texture to these spices which will taste great in this curry.

Just sauté slightly

Apart from chicken, two other main ingredients in this dish are onion petals and green peppers (capsicum). These two need to be sautéed separately and added to the curry towards the end. They should be sautéed only slightly so that they are a bit cooked but still have a bite to them and are still crunchy.

To reduce the work down, please don’t add these two ingredients along with the chicken and cook them together in the same pot. By doing this Kadai Chicken will definitely not taste the same. Onion petals and green peppers should be cooked separately and should have a bit of crunch to them.

Adding a teaspoon of pounded spices to these cooked veggies will avoid them from tasting bland and add a bit of flavour.

Blend of spices to make it flavourful

This chicken recipe uses a variety of spices to make this curry aromatic and full of flavour. Fennel seeds have their unique flavour and when they are freshly roasted and pounded, its flavour increases three folds. Same applies with dried red chillies, black peppers, cumin and coriander seeds.

Ginger juliennes taste great, especially when you bite on to them. So even if you are using ginger paste, don’t forget to add ginger juliennes.

Kashmiri Chilli Powder gives a nice red colour to the dish without the added heat, that too naturally without any artificial colours.

Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi) are added to many Indian curry dishes and there is a good reason for that; it’s because they are exceptional. Highly aromatic, they magnify the flavour of the dishes. But before adding, remember to roast them slightly till your kitchen is completely filled with its aroma, then crush them in your palm (as shown in the video) and then add them to the curry. Also, add Kasuri Methi towards the end so that their aroma lingers on till you are ready to serve.

Garam masala is the heart and soul of any Indian dish and needs no explanation. It’s a mix of spices and I like to add it towards the end so that its flavour and aroma can be enjoyed to the fullest while eating.

And just like garam masala, cilantro (coriander) is added to almost all Indian dishes. I like to use plenty of this herb in my curries as it’s so flavourful. Again, I add it at the end so that flavour is still fresh when served.

All the spices used in this recipe are easily available in any Indian grocery store. But these spices will taste great only if the gravy is thick enough, and to make it thick you have to use tomato purée. While grinding tomatoes if you add some cashew nuts, it will make gravy even thicker and a bit creamier, enhancing its texture.

Now the use of single cream is completely optional. Traditional Kadai Chicken doesn’t have cream in it. As I like a slight creamy texture to the gravy, I add it. But if you don’t have cream at home or if you don’t want those extra calories in your curry, just skip adding cream.

Give this delicious Kadai Chicken a try today. Enjoy it with chapatti, paratha, naan or plain boiled rice along with some salad on the side. This is a perfect curry for a party or when have some guests to entertain…


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Step-by-step instructions with photos:

In a bowl add chicken, 1 TBSP ginger paste, 1 TBSP garlic paste, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, mix well and let this marinate for 30 mins.

On low heat setting roast coriander seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black peppers, dried red chillies until golden and aromatic. Take care not to burn.

Pound this slightly in a mortar and pestle to a coarse powder.

Blend 1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes and cashew nuts to a fine puree.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium setting. To this add 1 TBSP oil, butter, onions separated into petals, green peppers and sauté only for a while till they turn slightly soft and shiny but they should still have a bite to them. Sprinkle 1 tsp of pounded spices, mix well and keep aside.

Heat a kadai/heavy bottom pan on medium setting and add 2 TBSP oil, ½ tsp cumin seeds, ginger juliennes, Indian bay leaves, 1 cup finely chopped onions, ginger paste, garlic paste and cook till onions are soft and shiny.

Then add finely chopped tomatoes and puréed tomatoes and cook till tomatoes turn soft and mushy.

To this add Kashmiri chilli powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, coriander powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1½ tsp salt, mix well and cook till moisture evaporates.

Now add marinated chicken pieces, rest of the pounded spices and water.

Cover and cook till chicken is soft and tender. When you cut a piece of chicken it should be soft and white from inside and NOT pink.

Then add sautéed onion petals and green peppers and garam masala.

Crush roasted dried fenugreek leaves by rubbing between your hands and add to the pan. Mix well and cook for couple more minutes.

Finally add cilantro and single cream (optional), mix well

Delicious Kadai Chicken is ready. Serve hot!

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