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Punjabi Style Kadhai Chicken from India

Sunday lunches are a perfect time for pulling out old family recipes and Kadhai chicken is a Punjabi classic! 'Kadhai' cooking is India's version of a stir-fry. These dishes are originally cooked is round-bottom iron pots in a shape similar to woks but without the handle.

Kadhai cooking first originated in Peshawar, Pakistan but is now as much a part of the culinary fabric of North Indian cooking as it is in Pakistan. This makes perfect sense if you know a bit about world history and are learned about 'The Partition of India' in 1947 when India was split up into India and Pakistan with Hindus made to return to India and Muslims to Pakistan. My father and grandfather relocated from Pakistan during this time and brought with them recipes like this one. Recipes I grew up on and now grace our kitchen table on Sunday mornings in the US.

These dishes are served in the very same pot they are cooked in - from fire to table!

Kadhai gravies are traditionally richly spiced tomato gravies in which vegetables or meats are cooked at high temperatures to succulent, tender and delicious perfection.

I warn you, as you go through the recipe, you'll probably think at least once, that I must be fibbing about how great it's going to taste because for 80% percent of it's cooking life it continues to remain a-very-blah-chicken-cooked-in-tomatoes dish. It's in the last 15 minutes where the dish literally transforms from frumpy to sparkle!

There is one catch though; none of the ingredients should be omitted and you really should take the time to fresh grind the spices and garlic paste.

This will be by far one of the tastiest chicken dishes to grace your dinner table. Rave reviews are sure to follow!



Recipe for

Punjabi Style Kadhai Chicken

Serves 4

Shopping list:

1 qty 3-4 lbs. young chicken

1-1/4 lbs. ripe tomatoes

1-1/4 cup tomato puree/tomato sauce

4 tbsp. fresh garlic paste

3 tbsp. finely chopped ginger

2-3 green Thai chilly

3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

2 tsp salt

2 tsp garam masala

1-1/2 tbsp. kasuri methi

1/3 cup melted ghee


2-3 whole red chilies

1 tbsp. coriander seeds


1 tbsp. finely sliced ginger root juliennes

2 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro leaves


Chicken: Joint chicken and remove skin and excess fat. Ask your butcher to do this if you are uncomfortable doing this on your own.

Green chilly - Cut off top & slit through the middle, lengthwise.

Tomato – Wash, get rid of woody top.& roughly chop.

Cilantro leaves - Wash, chop & soak in water till ready to use. Drain water away before using. Keep the leaves for garnish separate.

Spices: In a coffee grinder (used for spices and not coffee) pulse the spices for about 14-16 times until the spices are rough ground. Do not grind to a dust.


In a large pot or kadhai heat the ghee until hot. Add the garlic paste and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and just begins to lightly brown. Add the ground spices and sauté until fragrant for 30 seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Cover with a lid and stew for 5 minutes. Add the slit green chilies, fresh chopped ginger, salt and tomato puree. Stir to combine.

Add the chicken and coat the pieces with the gravy. Cover with a lid and cook the chicken for about 30 minutes until the chicken is completely tender.

Cook’s Note: Add no water to the cooking process. The chicken need to cook in its own juices.

On medium high flame evaporate excess moisture so the gravy is thick in the pot and the ghee simmers around the edges. There should be enough gravy to sop up but not that it immerses the chicken.

Add the kasuri methi, garam masala and freshly chopped cilantro. Simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings. Finely add the ginger julienne and additional cilantro leaves for garnish.

Serve immediately with rotis or parathas or any North Indian bread.




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