A kadai or karahi is a metal cooking pot similar to a wok, but with a flatter bottom and steeper sides. It is widely used in and around India to cook both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The non-vegetarian version is usually made with chicken, lamb or fish and is extremely popular in almost every Indian restaurant. I’ve seen some restaurants go so far as to place your portion in a mini kadai on a small burner at the table. You can have piping hot kadai chicken or fish with crisp rotis or soft naans.
The kadai recipe is slightly different from a regular curry recipe. The gravy is a thick tomato-based one, the color is deep and so is the flavor, as a result of careful layering of the different spices. Roughly diced green or red bell peppers (capsicum) are added for color and texture.
As always, the color of the dish will depend a lot on the type of red chilies or chili powder you use. Kashmiri laal mirch (red chili) is known to provide the best color with a somewhat milder heat quotient. Kadai masala is much sought after and can be prepared at home by coarsely grinding dry-roasted coriander seeds, dried red chilies, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper corns. Since neither me nor my hubby like to bite on coarsely ground coriander seeds in a curry, I decided to use coriander powder, red chili powder and cumin powder and grind the rest of the spices.
Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, a tiny piece of mace (the dried skin around a nutmeg kernel) and black pepper corns were roasted in a pan till they released their aroma and were coarsely ground in my spice mortar and pestle. I also lightly roasted the rest of the masala powders in the pan. This really helps to bring out their flavor.
You can skip these steps and still the kadai fish will turn out fine. But the extra prep work does add a little something extra to the finished dish. Read on for the detailed recipe.
RESTAURANT STYLE KADAI FISH OR FISH KARAHI
You will need:
- Whole spices – 1″ piece of cinnamon, 3 cloves, 3 pods of green cardamom, a tiny piece of mace and 8-10 black pepper corns
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 2 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Oil – 3 tbsp
- Dry bay leaf – 1-2
- Red or green bell pepper – 1, de-seeded and cut into thick strips
- Onions -1 large, finely chopped
- Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp (made from a 2″ knob of ginger and 8-10 cloves of garlic)
- Green chilies – 2-3, chopped
- Tomato – 2 large ones, chopped
- Fish – 1 lb, boneless and cut into chunks (any white fish will do)
- Water – 1 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Garam masala powder – a generous pinch
- Fresh ginger – 1″ piece, julienned, for garnish
- Cilantro leaves – a few, for garnish
- Dry roast the whole spices on low heat till they are fragrant, cool slightly and coarsely grind them in a mortar-pestle or spice grinder. Keep aside.
- Dry roast the masala powders on low heat and keep aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai/wok and saute the bell peppers for a minute or two. They must be just cooked and not turn mushy. Remove and keep aside. We will add it to the curry only at the end so that they still retain their texture.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add the onions and saute till lightly golden.Then add the ginger-garlic paste and green chilies and saute till the raw smell goes away.
- Add the tomatoes and saute till they turn mushy. Now add the ground whole spices and the roasted masala powders and saute for another minute. Add a cup of water and bring the gravy to a boil.
- Add the fish pieces and mix lightly to coat well in the gravy. Season with salt, cover and simmer to cook the fish, maybe 5-7 minutes.
- Open the lid and simmer further to thicken the gravy to your liking. Mix in the previously sauteed bell peppers, sprinkle garam masala powder on top and remove from heat.
- Serve hot, garnished with thin slices of ginger and some torn cilantro leaves.
- You can use prawns, chicken or lamb instead of fish, though chicken and lamb will require a longer cooking time.
- Try paneer or tofu for a vegetarian version.
Do you like kadai dishes? Ever tried them at home? Do give this simple recipe a ry and let me know what you think.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
- Skip To My Lou
- Between Naps on the Porch
- Home Stories A To Z
- A Stroll Thru Life
- Cedar Hill Ranch
- Coastal Charm
- Elizabeth & Co
- House On The Way
- Savvy Southern Style
- The NY Melrose Family
- The Turquoise Home
- Living Well Spending Less
- Design Dining and Diapers
- The Novice Gardener
- The Shabby Nest
- French Country Cottage
- My Romantic Home
- The Charm of Home
- Thirty Handmade Days
- Crafts a la Mode
- Love of Family and Home
- DIY Show Off
- Nifty Thrifty Things
- By Stephanie Lynn