Kadai Chicken

Kadai Chicken is a relatively unknown Indian dish, but has a lot of significance as the word ‘Kadai’ (pronounced ‘Car-Eye’ with a soft rolling ‘rrr’ sound, rather than a hard ‘duh’ sound) is likely where the word ‘Curry’ comes from.  Kadai refers to the wok like pot that the dish is cooked in, rather than any spice or region, but it is most popular in Northern India.  It’s a drier curry and with a more earthy taste than some of the others out there – I’ve taken liberty with the method to make the most of the spices and the chicken legs that I use.  You can easily make a masala base by frying the onions and spices, as per normal, then adding chicken breast later, if you prefer.  Hopefully you like my take on it 🙂


IMG_13224 Chicken legs
Chopped Tomatoes (I’m using 3 small fresh ones, but half a can of tomatoes would also work)
1 Red Capsicum – cleaned and sliced
2 small onions, chopped (or about 1 medium sized onion)
1 cm ginger, pealed and grated
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red chilli crushed (or to taste)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Oil/butter for frying (or ghee, if you have it)
1 cup of water


Start by toasting your cumin, coriander and peppercorns in a wok over a medium/high heat.  Stir the wok a few times so they don’t burn.  When you start to get smoke, you know you’re done.

IMG_1325Crush your toasted spices in a mortar and pestle with your dried chilli.  You can use an electric blender if you prefer, but I like the primal nature of hand crushing (I should talk to a therapist about that)

IMG_1326Take your chicken legs and rub your ground spice mix into it – make sure you get a good covering, even under the skin


Fry your chicken legs in 6 tablespoons of oil or a large knob of butter (or, as I’ve done, a mix of both to get a high heat, without burning the butter, but retaining the nuttiness that butter has – Ghee is great for this)

IMG_1337Allow your chicken skin to get a good sear all over and let the fats work their magic into the pan – once your chicken is seared (not necessarily cooked through) set aside.

Kadai Chicken Small

Reduce the wok heat.  In the same oils/fats that you cooked the chicken in, add in your onions, garlic and ginger and fry over a gentle heat until golden

IMG_1343After about 6 mins of gentle sautéing, add in your chopped tomatoes

IMG_1348And 1 cup of water

IMG_1354Bring the mixture to the boil and add back your chicken

IMG_1357Cover, with a crack in the lid, and leave to slowly simmer for 20 mins.  Check the thickness of the gravy after 10 mins – if it’s too dry, add in a little more water (you don’t want it to burn).  Keep the temperature low to ensure the chicken is cooked and the gravy is thick and sticks to the meat.

IMG_1358About 5 mins before serving, add in your chopped capsicum.  I like capsicum to be a bit raw, but if you prefer it cooked through, then add it in about 10 mins before serving – cover and allow to simmer some more.

IMG_1359Serve your Kadai in a Kadai (if you have one) and lots of green herbs (coriander leaves are best, but my plant is suffering, so went with parsley).  Eat with fresh naan or basmati rice.  Enjoy!


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