Kadai Chicken | Restaurant style Kadai Chicken recipe
Kadai Chicken is one of the popular Indian restaurant dishes made using chicken, onions, tomatoes, and capsicum cooked in a spicy, tangy, and lip-smacking gravy using freshly ground spice powder. It goes well with any Indian flatbread or rice dish.
With its aromatic spices, succulent chicken pieces, and vibrant bell peppers, it is one of the most ordered dishes in any fine-dining restaurant or dhabas.
In this article, I will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating authentic restaurant-style kadhai chicken right in your own kitchen.
What is Kadai Chicken?
Kadai Chicken, an exotic chicken curry dish has its origin in North India, Old Punjab in Lahore to be specific. Apart from India, the dish is quite famous for Pakistanis and Afghanis. In the North, it is also known as Kadai Murgh.
This hot and spicy chicken dish was prepared to counter the cold during the winter.
Why the name Kadai Chicken? There are different reasons for the name.
The dish is made in a kadai (a heavy pan that resembles a wok). Kadai is the most basic cooking equipment essential in the Indian kitchen. The pan has more surface area and heats more evenly.
A special kadai masala is added to the dish.
In restaurants, the dish is served in a kadai-shaped serving bowl.
Whatever be the reason, Kadhai Murgh is one of the best-tasting North Indian chicken curries because it bursts with distinct and exquisite flavors.
In Indian cuisine, many dishes have got their names depending on the vessel (cooking pot) it was used to prepare. For example Handi Chicken/Paneer/Veg, or Tawa Chicken/Paneer/Veg.
About Kadai Chicken recipe
Kadai Chicken’s recipe is similar to regular chicken curry with an additional step of making kadai masala and adding roasted onion and bell pepper. Also, compared to Indian chicken curry, kadhai chicken has a semi-dry or thick gravy.
Looking at the step-by-step pics, making kadhai chicken from scratch might sound intimidating but trust me, it’s not. Only making the special spice mix requires an extra few minutes. But, the scrumptious curry made with homemade masala is worth all your precious time.
The Kadhai Chicken recipe has 3 components
1. Make the kadai masala.
2. Make the kadhai chicken curry.
3. Add the roasted onion and capsicum chunks.
What makes my recipe different?
I prefer to add the kadai masala at three stages so that the chicken pieces absorb the flavors and the gravy is aromatic.
The gravy color looks vibrant red due to the kashmiri red chili powder. You can substitute it with cayenne or paprika.
I use a heavy bottom kadai to make chicken curry. You can use a dutch oven or a large saute pan.
How to make Kadai Masala?
The secret to replicating restaurant-style taste at home is the freshly ground masala. It is the star ingredient of this chicken curry.
It is important to strike the right quantity of ingredients to balance the flavors from the various spices.
Kadai masala gets the aroma and delicious flavors from the combination of coriander seeds (dhaniya), cumin (jeera), dry red chilies (lal mirch), black peppercorns (kali mirch), and fennel seeds (saunf).
The quantity of coriander seeds is the highest.
The masala is made by dry roasting and grinding the spices. You can either grind them to a coarse or fine powder. The quantity of ingredients mentioned to make the spice mix may be strong for your palate. So, add in stages as I did. If you feel the spice is low add all the spice mix.
This fragrant homemade mix of spices can be made in a large batch and added to your everyday recipes. To increase its self-life, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Reasons to try
Want to jazz up your regular chicken curry.
Sunday afternoon special meal with family.
May look intimidating but is easy to make.
The gravy has strong flavors from the special kadai masala.
The amazing aroma and taste will make your family members want more and more.
The taste is very close to the Indian restaurants and dhabas.
Gravy has a creamy and velvety melt-in-mouth texture.
Apt for parties, get-togethers, special occasions, or weekend meals.
Make this restaurant-style kadai chicken when you have guests and get a lot of praisings.
The addition of onion and bell pepper cubes makes the dish visually stunning.
Scoop the tender chicken pieces in spicy and velvety smooth sauce with naan and enjoy the burst of flavors in every bite.
Difference between Indian Kadai Chicken and Pakistani Karahi Chicken?
The two main differences are
1. Onion is not used in Pakistani karahi chicken. The base gravy is made with tomatoes.
2. Indian kadhai chicken has large chunks of capsicum and onion. Whereas, they are not added to Pakistani karahi chicken.
Karahi Chicken process starts by deep frying the chicken pieces in the kadai (which may or may not have handles), removing the excess oil, adding lots of red juicy tomatoes, bhuno, adding the dry spice powders, and cover-cook until chicken is tender.
I will recommend using chicken with the bone to make any chicken curry. The juices inside the bones seep into the gravy and make the curry more flavorful and delicious. You can use curry cut like the way I have used.
Saute the onions well until they turn a golden color. Cooking further, they will melt in the gravy and give a smooth texture.
Always use red and juicy Bangalore tomatoes to make restaurant-style curries at home. They are less sour compared to the local variety. If the tomatoes you have are sour, add sugar to balance the sourness.
To make the kadai masala, roast the ingredients on low flame until they are aromatic. If the flame is high, the spices will burn.
Saute the chicken pieces on high flame until the color changes to white. This step will lock the juices of the chicken and not let release the unwanted moisture in the gravy. If you saute the chicken on low flame, it will release water and the cooked chicken will taste like boiled.
The secret of a good restaurant-style curry is the gravy or sauce texture. So, saute the base gravy well until the oil separates.
Use hot water while making chicken curry. Adding cold water will drop the temperature of the pan and it often makes the meat hard.
Do not saute the onion and bell pepper chunks before you start making the curry. By the time you finish making the curry, both will lose their bite, shape, and color. To retain the crunch and color, saute them when you are almost done making the curry.
Consistency of the gravy: A typical restaurant curry dish has a thicker consistency with spicy masala clinging to tender chicken pieces.. You can alter the consistency as per your preference. But, adding more water will dilute the flavors.
Ingredients to make Kadai Chicken
Kadai masala: coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, black pepper, and dry red chilies.
Chicken: Chicken with bone or boneless. For the curry, I always use curry cut chicken which is basically a whole chicken cut into small or medium size pieces. It is a mix of bone-in wings, thighs, legs, and pieces of boneless breast. You can use boneless and follow the same recipe. However, the cooking time will vary.
Oil: any neutral oil works fine.
Onion: In this dish, onion is used in two ways.
1. Finely chopped onions to make the base gravy.
2. Cut into large chunks and separate the layers.
Tomatoes: grind them to a smooth pureed.
Spice powders: turmeric, red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala.
Dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi): Most of the restaurant dishes are incomplete without this ingredient. So, do not skip it.
Cashewnuts and Muskmelon seeds: The paste of these two adds a creamy texture to the gravy. In restaurants, the combination of these two is used to make the dish cost-effective. You can substitute it with heavy cream. Compared to cream, use of these two ingredients
Coriander stems: they have a more intense flavor than the leaves.
Bell peppers cubes: I have used green color. You can use other colors (red and yellow) if you have them.
Coriander (cilantro) leaves: finish the dish with the leaves for a fresh herby fragrance.
How to make Restaurant style Kadai Chicken
Preparing the Kadai Masala
1 & 2. Heat a pan over a low flame. Add the coriander seeds, cumin, black peppercorns, dry red chilies, and fennel seeds. Dry roast on low flame until aromatic.
3. Transfer them to a blender jar and let them cool.
4. Grind to a coarse or fine powder. Remove in a bowl and keep aside.
Preparing the Kadai Chicken curry
5. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. When hot, add bay leaf and finely chopped onion.
6. Saute until they change color to light golden.
7 & 8. Add ginger-garlic paste and turmeric powder. Saute until the raw smell goes away.
9. Increase the flame to high and add the chicken pieces.
10. Saute the chicken pieces well until the color changes to white.
11 & 12. Turn the flame to low. Add salt and 1 tablespoon of kadai masala.
13 & 14. Add red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, and mix well.
15. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes.
16. Chicken will release water.
17. Grind tomatoes, coriander stem, cashews, and muskmelon seeds to a smooth puree by adding little water.
18 & 19. Add the puree to the pan and mix well.
20. Saute on medium flame until moisture reduces and oil separates.
21. Add 1.5 cups of hot water and mix well. Raise the flame to high and let the gravy come to a boil.
22. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked tender.
23 & 24. Add 1 tablespoon kadai masala and garam masala. Give a good mix.
25. Add kasuri methi powder (dry roast on low flame and crush between the palms). Mix well.
26. Add coriander leaves and give a good mix.
Sauteing the Onion and Capsicum cubes
27. Take a tadka pan or small size pan/kadai. Add 1 tablespoon oil and add the onion, capsicum cubes and whole dry red chilies. Saute on high flame until the edges char.
28 & 29. Turn the flame to low and add 1 tsp kadai masala. Fry for 5 seconds and add to the curry.
30. Cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes or until the is seen on the sides.
Kadai Chicken is ready to relish. Serve hot with flatbread or rice.
At restaurants, my personal favorite is with butter naan or rumali roti. At home, I like to pair the creamy and luscious curry with plain parathas. The creamy and luscious curry goes well with any Indian breads like rumali roti, naan, tandoori roti, lacha paratha, plain parathas etc
The kadai chicken curry stays fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. Before serving, reheat the curry in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop.
The gravy thickens as it cools. Add a few tablespoons of water while reheating. Do not add more water, it will dilute the flavors.
I added onion and green capsicum chunks for an authentic restaurant look. You can make the dish without them.
Can add whole spices like bay leaf, cloves, green cardamom, and cinnamon stick.
To make the curry creamier, you can add a few tablespoons of cream at the end. Do not cook after adding cream. Alternately can add curd, it adds a nice tang and creamy texture. Make sure the curd is fresh and not sour. Whisk it well before adding to the curry or the curry would curdle.
Dry Kadhai Chicken: reduce the quantity of water and add the stir-fried veggies at the end. Make a dry version with boneless chicken and use it as a filling to make sandwiches, kathi rolls, or burgers.
You can follow the same recipe to make a veg version like Kadai Veg (add mixed vegetables of your choice), Kadai Paneer, or Kadai Mushroom.
More Chicken recipes
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Kadai Chicken | Restaurant style Kadai Chicken recipe
For Kadai Masala
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds (dhanya)
- 1 tsp Cumin (jeera)
- 4-6 numbers Dry red chilies (lal mirch)
- 8-10 numbers Black peppercorns
- 1 tsp Fennel seeds (saunf)
For Kadai Chicken curry
- 500 gms Chicken (with bone or boneless)
- 1/4 cup Oil
- 2 medium Onion (finely chopped)
- 2 numbers Bay leaf
- 1/2 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 2 tsp Red chili powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (cayenne or paprika)
- 2-3 medium Tomatoes
- 4 Coriander stems
- 4 Cashews
- 1-2 tbsp Muskmelon seeds (kharbuja seeds)
- 1/2-1 tsp Garam masala
- 1/2 tsp Kasoori methi
- 1.5 cups Hot water
- Coriander leaves
- 1 small Capsicum (cubed)
- 1 small Onion (cubed and separated layers)
To make Kadai Masala
- Heat a pan over a low flame. Add the coriander seeds, cumin, black peppercorns, dry red chilies, and fennel seeds. Dry roast on low flame until aromatic.
- Transfer them to a blender jar and let them cool.
- Grind to a coarse or fine powder. Remove in a bowl and keep aside.
To make Kadai Chicken curry
- Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. When hot, add bay leaf and finely chopped onion.
- Saute until they change color to light golden.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and turmeric powder. Saute until the raw smell goes away.
- Increase the flame to high and add the chicken pieces. Saute the chicken pieces well until the color changes to white.
- Turn the flame to low. Add salt and 1 tablespoon of kadai masala.
- Add red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, and mix well. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes.
- Chicken will release water.
- Grind tomatoes, coriander stem, cashews, and muskmelon seeds to a smooth puree by adding little water.
- Add the puree to the pan and mix well. Saute on medium flame until moisture reduces and oil separates.
- Add 1.5 cups of hot water and mix well. Raise the flame to high and let the gravy come to a boil.
- Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked tender.
- Add 1 tablespoon kadai masal and garam masala. Give a good mix.
- Add kasoori methi powder (dry roast on low flame and crush between the palms) and coriander leaves and give a good mix.
To saute onion and capsicum cubes
- Take a tadka pan or small size pan/kadai. Add 1 tablespoon oil and add the onion, capsicum cubes and whole dry red chilies. Saute on high flame until the edges char.
- Turn the flame to low and add 1 tsp kadai masala. Fry for 5 seconds and add to the curry.
- Cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes or until the is seen on the sides.
- Kadai Chicken is ready to relish. Serve hot with flatbread or rice.