(this recipe was first published in Nov 2019 and has been updated with step-by-step instructions)
What is Kadai Chicken?
Kadai chicken or karahi chicken is a restaurant-favorite Indian chicken recipe, made by cooking chicken in a wok (or 'Kadai') by cooking boneless pieces of chicken in a sauce made from tomatoes and cashew paste. The spices used in this recipe include garam masala, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin. A hearty chicken curry with a rich, thick sauce that coats every bit of the chicken, this recipe is definitely one for the keeps.
What makes this curry special is the addition of crunchy green bell peppers (capsicum) and cubed onions - this gives the Kadai Chicken a nice crunch and texture, which makes it different from a typical chicken curry recipe.
Why this recipe works
- Authentic recipe!
- Replicate the taste of Indian restaurant-style Kadai chicken at home
- Made from scratch with fresh and healthy ingredients
List of Ingredients
The key ingredients needed to make Kadai Chicken are:
- Boneless chicken pieces (use thigh pieces or breast pieces)
- 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. IFresh tomatoes can be substituted with canned tomatoes.
- Cashew paste – Made by soaking cashew nuts in warm water and blending the soaked cashews 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.
Step by Step Instructions
Start by heating a kadai or a wok, or saucepan with high sides. Add the ghee (or oil) and once hot, add the dried whole red chilles, bay leaves and cumin seeds.
Once the cumin starts to sputter, add the chopped onions. Saute until translucent.
Add the canned or chopped tomatoes (here I have used canned tomatoes for convenience). Add the spice powders and salt. Mix well and cook on low-to-medium heat until the sauce thickens.
Add the blended cashew paste, mix and add the chicken pieces.
Mix the chicken well, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 6-7 minutes. Check to see if the chicken is cooked, and keep aside.
In a separate saucepan or wok, heat some oil. Once hot, add the diced onions and bell pepper. Saute until the onions start to turn translucent.
Add the cooked chicken and the sauce into the sauteed peppers and onions. Mix well, and simmer for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the heat. Your delicious Kadai Chicken is ready! Garnish with chopped cilantro / coriander and serve with Indian naan or basmati rice.
Tips for Perfect Kadai Chicken
Here are some tips to make perfect kadai chicken curry at home:
Making a thick gravy/sauce: A kadai chicken curry 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. We'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!
More Indian chicken recipes
- 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.