Named after the traditional iron wok used in Indian cuisine, Kadhai cooking is quickly catching on as a new trend in the culinary world. The method is very effective in cooking a dish quickly while retaining many levels of rich, fresh flavor.
A kadhai wok is deeper and narrower than the familiar Japanese or Chinese woks. Using very little, or more often, no water, the idea is to cook all the ingredients together in a tomato-based sauce with a savory mixture of garlic and other assorted spices. The ingredients cook in their natural juices as they are stirred, and the seared bits of meat and tomatoes are scraped from the sides of the wok and added to the whole of the dish, creating another subtle layer of delicious, mouth-watering flavor.
Over time, a kadhai wok can become well-seasoned, enhancing future dishes. If you wish to begin an exciting adventure in Indian cuisine, then of course you will first need to purchase your own kadhai. You should be able to find one at any Asian or Indian cookware shop, or in gourmet cookware shops. A practical size is 10-13″ wide, with a 3″ inch deep well. Non-stick aluminum is recommended. A thicker pot is preferable to a thinner one, as vegetables and other ingredients can tend to burn in the thinner pots before they are fully cooked.
You will find that the kadhai also serves as an excellent serving platter. When the meal has finished cooking, simply place the kadhai on a trivet and let your family help themselves.
Traditionally, you will use oil first to extract and retain the essence and flavors of the herbs and spices you will use in your dish, but you can use ghee as well. Because of the round, flat bottom of the kadhai, you will not need to use much of either to effectively and evenly cook your food. Often, little or no whole spices will be used, but garam masala, a blend of various ground spices, is used quite often, aiding in quick absorption of the flavors.
For a quick and delicious kadhai meal using chicken, follow this scrumptious recipe. You will need one whole chicken, cleaned and cut into pieces. Heat a small amount of oil in the kadhai and add 3 chopped onions and 3 chopped green chilis, and fry until lightly browned. Add a teaspoon each of chili powder and turmeric, and two teaspoons each of garam masala and ground coriander, and salt to taste, mixing well.
Add 6 chopped tomatoes of medium size, and two teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste, and cook until the tomatoes become tender. Add 1/4 cup of water and bring the dish to a boil. When it appears slightly thickened, add the chicken and mix well. Reduce the heat to medium and cover and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Garnish the completed dish with coriander leaves and prepare your taste buds for a fascinating ride!