Kadai chicken is a hearty chicken dish from Northern India, traditionally prepared in a kadai or wok. Chicken is cooked in a spiced cashew and tomato-based gravy, and tossed up with sautéed bell peppers and onions that lend crunch and texture. A delicious restaurant-quality dish that can be made with ease at home!
Kadai chicken makes it to the top of my list of restaurant favourites, and for good reason! A hearty dish that is more like a drier version of a curry, with a rich, thick sauce that coats every bit of the chicken.
The addition of crunchy green bell peppers (capsicum) and cubed onions gives it some bite and texture, and gets a double thumbs up in my books! Other restaurant favourites of mine include chicken biryani, paneer tikka, vegan korma curry and chicken hariyali tangdi kabab.
What is a kadai or karahi dish?
A kadai or karahi is an Indian version of a wok – essentially, a thick, circular and deep pot. Popular kadai dishes include kadai chicken, kadai paneer, kadai ghosht, vegetable kadai – all of which are made with a semi-dry gravy sauce and with whole spices.
What goes into a kadai chicken?
Essential ingredients needed to make a kadai chicken are:
- Boneless chicken pieces (use thigh pieces or breast)
- Whole spices such as red chillies, bay leaves, cumin. Ground spices including Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala
- Chopped onions and tomatoes – these form the base of the sauce or gravy. I use half a can of tomatoes, for convenience.
- Cashew paste – made by soaking cashew nuts in warm water and then grinding them to a smooth paste
- Cubed onions and cubed bell peppers – these are lightly sautéed and added to the cooked chicken and masala towards the end. These add that characteristic crunch and texture to the kadai dish.
Tips for making a delicious, restaurant-style kadai chicken:
Making a thick gravy/sauce: Kadai chicken is all about that thick, wholesome gravy that coats the chicken. This dish is not a typical curry – you want to avoid a runny or wet gravy-sauce. You’re looking for an almost paste-like consistency to the sauce. This sauce is all onions, tomatoes and cashew paste. There is no added water or added liquid.
Make your own garam masala: I can’t stress this enough! If you make Indian food on a recurring basis, you definitely want to keep a jar of homemade garam masala handy. The store-bought version doesn’t come close to making it at home.
To make a small batch of garam masala, heat the following spices on a pan on the stovetop: 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, 5-6 cardamoms, 6-7 cloves, a 2-inch piece cinnamon, 2-3 pieces of mace. Once the spices are heated and begin releasing their aromas, grind them in a high-power blender, or coffee grinder. Store the ground spice mix in an air-tight jar and use as needed.
Use Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: Want some of that gorgeous deep colour in you curry, but don’t care for the heat? Use Kashmiri red chili powder. It imparts a beautiful colour but is only mildly hot. To substitute, use a mixture of paprika and cayenne pepper – 3 parts paprika to 1-part cayenne.
Sautéed Onions and Bell Peppers: Cubed onions and bell peppers are lightly sautéed and added towards the end. This gives the kadai chicken its characteristic crunch and texture. You don’t want to skip this step!
Here are some more classic Indian chicken recipes that you might like:
traditionally prepared in a kadai or wok. Chicken is cooked in a spiced cashew
and tomato-based gravy, and tossed up with sautéed bell peppers and onions that
lend crunch and texture. A delicious restaurant-quality dish that can be made
with ease at home!
- 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 2-3 whole dried red chillies
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 large chopped onions
- 1.5 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste or minced ginger and garlic
- 1 can tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ cup cashewnuts soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, then ground to a paste
- 700 grams chicken approximately 3 large chicken breasts, cut into pieces
- Salt as per taste
- 1 Green bell pepper de-seeded and cut into cubes
- 1 large onion cut into cubes
- Chopped coriander to garnish
- In a wok (or kadai), heat some oil or ghee.
- Once the oil is hot, add the whole red chilies, bay leaf and cumin.
- Heat for a couple of minutes, until the cumin starts to sputter slightly.
- Add the chopped onions and sauté until lightly browned.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté again.
- Add the can of tomatoes and mix well. Cook, stirring regularly until the liquid leaves the sauce and it thickens.
- Add the Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder and mix well.
- Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring untill the sauce is mixed well with the spices.
- Add the cashew nut paste and mix well.
- Add the chicken pieces, salt and mix well.
- Cook on low to medium heat until the sauce has reduced, and the chicken is done. Keep aside.
- In a separate saucepan or frying pan, heat some oil or ghee.
- Once the oil or ghee is hot, add the bell peppers and onion. Sauté until the onions are slightly brown. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the sautéed bell peppers and onions to the wok with the chicken, stir and mix well to combine. Simmer the curry for 2 minutes more.
- Garnish with a squeeze of lime (optional) and chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Caramel Tinted Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites.