Kadai chicken, the flagship dish from Indian cuisine cannot get better than this. Try making this yourself at home and you will forget the restaurant version forever!
You may think I am boasting but I can’t help it! I really can’t help but say that this kadai chicken is the best ever chicken I ever have had in my life. And it has to be true because it has no other choice! When you are creating your own kadai spice blend from scratch using the best spices available, then there is simply no way that your hard work won’t reap its result! I am really a sucker for making spice blends or sauces from scratch at home and give those store jars a big miss and remain as happy as ever for doing so.
Once, only once I had bought a bottle of ready-made pesto and that too on my hub’s insistence. I could not have more than one spoon of the pasta that I made with it, it tasted so chemical’ish and bizarre which I could not explain in words and coming from a true pesto lover, it’s not something that you can neglect. So long story short, if you want to taste something best, make it at home and love yourself more for giving this effort to create something incredibly good!
While writing this post, I started wondering why this dish is called kadai chicken. There is kadai paneer also which is our another favorite, but what is the significance of this kadai! Wikipedia says that because it is cooked in a single utensil which is kadai i.e. wok, hence the name. But I am somehow not very convinced with this theory, I am not sure why; although in every Indian restaurant you will always find kadai chicken or kadai paneer served in a kadai (wok) shaped serving bowl. I will keep researching and update you if I find anything more convincing.
Whatever be the reason behind the name, this kadai chicken is a superbly delicious side dish best served with some Indian breads like butter naan or tandoori roti. I must warn you that kadai chicken is a spicy dish and not for the faint-hearted! And if you follow my recipe below, the homemade kadai spice blend will be in its purest kick-ass form adding the best of their flavors to the dish.
The kadai chicken is best enjoyed during the chilly night of winters. Kadai chicken originated from Northern region of India where the winter is quite strong which is why the North-Indian dishes are usually loaded with heat and flavors from all the aromatic spices or as they are called ‘garam masala‘ i.e. ‘hot spices‘. If you can strike the right balance of flavors from the medley of various hot spices, you are sorted and your kadai chicken will be the best kadai chicken ever!
I would also like you to take note of the following. You may or may not need the full quantity of the kadai spice blend that you will make following my recipe below for this amount of kadai chicken which would approximately serve 6. This is quite a strong spice mix; so start with adding half of it and taste in between before adding the rest. If you are confident that you can handle it, then by all means, use it up!
Kadai chicken is a dish to be enjoyed on a relaxed Sunday afternoon with family, so don’t miss it on next weekend!
- Chicken – 1 kg, bone-in, skin-off pieces of medium size
- Green bell pepper – 2, cut into 1 inch piece
- Onion – 3, large, finely chopped
- Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Tomato – 4, large
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Vegetable or mustard oil – ¼ cup
- Salt to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves – 1 cup, chopped
- Whole dry red chilli – 2
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
- Green cardamom – 6 to 8
- Cloves – 6 to 8
- Cinnamon – 2 inch piece
- Black cardamom – 2
- Whole black peppercorn – 8 to 10
- Mace – 1 tsp
- First make the kadai spice. Dry roast all the spices listed under Kadai spice blend for couple of minutes until fragrant. Then grind them into a powder. Set aside.
- Peel and cut each of the tomatoes into half. Deseed them and then chop them finely. Deseeding the tomatoes will get rid of extra water and tartness.
- Wash and pat dry the chicken. Add some salt and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the chicken and mix well.
- Heat a large pot and add the oil to it. Once the oil is medium hot, add the sugar, stir and let it caramelize, keeping the heat on medium. Adding sugar at the beginning will add a bright red color to the final dish.
- Add chopped onion and saute for couple of minutes until it starts to soften. Then add ginger and garlic paste. Saute them on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the onion turns golden.
- Now add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Let the tomatoes cook for 10 minutes.
- Then add all the spices – turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the kadai spice blend. In case the skillet is too dry add couple of splashes of water and saute the spices for 2 minutes.
- Then add the chicken pieces. Stir well so that all chicken pieces are coated with the spices generously.
- Cover and cook the chicken on low heat stirring after every 5 minutes so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. No need to add water at this stage as chicken will release water of its own.
- Saute the chicken for good 20 minutes until all the pieces are nicely browned. Add the green bell pepper and give a quick stir. I like the crunch of the capsicum to be retained which is why I add them at this stage of the cooking.
- Now add about a cup of water or more depending on the consistency you desire and let the liquid come to boil on high heat.
- Once the gravy starts boiling, cover and let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through.
- Uncover and give a stir. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Boil off any excess water until you get your desired consistency.
- Sprinkle garam masala and some freshly chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with plain white rice or butter naan!