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Main Course

Easy Fat-free Kadhai Chicken or Wok Chicken

This fat free version of a popular Indian delicacy — kadhai chicken — is very quick and easy to make and requires minimal variety of spices. You can serve it with Naan or Pulao or plain basmati rice on the side.

Easy Fat-free Kadhai Chicken or Wok Chicken

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 249 kcal


Whole spices — see notes for substitution

  • 2" Cinnamon stick
  • 3 Whole cloves
  • 2 Whole green cardamom pods
  • ½ tbsp Whole black peppercorn optional
  • 2 Whole dried chili optional

Other ingredients

  • 4 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 Medium sized red onions thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Chopped tomatoes
  • tbsp Fresh ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp  Coriander powder
  • 1-3 tbsp Red chili powder or cayenne powder adjust according to heat preference
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1-2 Serrano or Thai chili pepper chopped, optional
  • 2 Bell peppers (red or green or one of each) cubed
  • 1 tbsp Salt adjust to taste
  • 1 pinch Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Garam masala
  • Handful of cilantro for garnish finely chopped, optional


  • Heat a large heavy bottomed wok, dutch oven or saute pan on medium heat.
  • While the pan is heating, gently crush the whole spices in a mortar and pestle so they are broken in to smaller pieces. We do NOT want them to be ground to a fine powder.
  • Add the crushed whole spices to the pan and roast them until the spices are fragrant. About 10 seconds.
  • Add the finely chopped garlic to the pan and sauté for 5-10 seconds or until the garlic starts to give out a mild aroma.
  • Add the finely sliced onions to the pan and saute them until the onions are nicely browned and caramelized. This step is a little time consuming and requires patience because onions take some time to evenly brown when not being fried in oil. The key is to stir constantly to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Once the onions start to cook they will, however, start to stick to the bottom. At this point add a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pan and keep stirring. Once the water has evaporated, add another tablespoon or so of water and stir. Keep adding water and deglazing the pan until the onion is evenly browned. This could take as much as 10 minutes.
  • Once the onions are evenly browned add the tomatoes, ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, Cayenne pepper and Serrano peppers (if using) to the pan. Sauté until the pungent aroma of the spices is gone. About 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and the bell peppers, along with the salt and sugar.
  • Nicely coat the chicken in all the spices, cover and cook for 12 minutes on medium heat.
  • Uncover and raise the heat to high than cook until any water from tomatoes and chicken evaporates, stirring occasionally. This could take up to 20 minutes if your chicken breasts let out too much water. Other times you don't need more than 5 minutes in this step.
  • Garnish with garam masala and cilantro. Serve hot.


  1. If you do not have the whole spices on hand, you can skip steps 2 and 3. Instead, add 2 tablespoon full of garam masala powder along with onions in step 5. However, if you are into Indian cuisine and cook it often or see yourself cooking it more often, I highly recommend investing in some good quality cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and green cardamom pods. These whole spices elevate the depth of flavors and aromas in the meal to new levels and make it more satisfying.
  2. I used a cast iron pan, if you use any other pan, you might need to adjust the cooking time. You want the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 once cooked.


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