Wok, Kadhai, Or Are They The Same Thing?

My husband has decided he would like a wok as a Christmas gift. As I was researching them, I happened across an Indian (as from India) cooking pot called a kadhai, which seems to be the Indian version of a wok. Are they the same thing? Is there really that much difference between the way they cook?

Personally I have never been a fan of a long handled wok due to cupboard storage issues, which is why I am leaning towards the 2 short handled kadhai. Our stove is gas, so I know I wll need to buy something with a round bottom, most likely a 10 inch, as we generally cook for 2-4 people. I am debating between carbon steel or nonstick as well. The carbon steel ones just sound like a PITA to season. Any advice or brand recommendations is greatly appreciated. TIA!!!


Teflon is not designed to work well with high temperatures.

I use carbon steel, and it was very much a pain to keep seasoned well (for me at least, not cooking meat and often adding an acidic ingredient to dishes). After about a year doing the seasoning in all the different ways, I stripped it all off and now use it unseasoned - and prefer it that way. It’s excellent with heat, but is not nonstick which is fine.


No. Pretty much the same thing. Like a wok, a karahi (as it’s usually known in this part of the world), is rounded, with either a round or small flat bottom. I think the one I’ve had for years was sold as a wok - rounded, but with the flat bottom (as my hob is electric). Single handle and non-stick for me - as you suggest, I reckon carbon steel would be a pain in the arse.

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Carbon steel is not the pain people think it is unless they want it to look nice and function pretty much like nonstick. Stir-frying usually involves enough heat and motion that proteins release and vegetables do not stick. Over time the interior develops a mottled patina that loses its mottling over time. I think of kadhais as deeper and often heavier. There are plenty of two handled wok options. Check the Wok Shop.


Pretty much the same thing.

IMO, avoid nonstick. It doesn’t play well with high heat, and high heat is a big reason for having the pan.

There’s a Chinese wok style with two handles (Pow or Peking, I forget which).

Get the biggest diameter you can comfortably store and manipulate–don’t choose by portion size.


I used my flat bottom (carbon steel) wok for last night’s dinner. [Peanut Butter Chili noodles in the WFD thread]. I don’t have gas and use it on my single induction hob. I know mine would work better on gas, if I had it. I do like the long handle and second helper handle.
As far as storage, I put my wok upside down in the back of the pantry on top of my (seldom used) air fryer. It fits on top perfectly (like a little hat).
Measurements are… the flat bottom is 7" and the widest part at the top is 14".
Depending on portion size, I’d say I can fit 4-6 portions in it, easily. My girlfriend went back for seconds, so last night’s dinner was only 3 portions.

For the record, I found this one at Goodwill and have only used it a few times, but so far… so good.


Do you know he wants a wk and how he plan to use it? A wok and a kadhai are fairly similar but with some differences — in particular a typical kadhai has a more aggressive curvature and a steeper side. Thus how foods can move in them are different. For example if he plan to toss foods, then a wok is better.

Same for the carbon steel vs nonstick options. It depends how he plans to use the cookware. If he plans to do some (very) high temperature fast cooking, then nonstick won’t last long. On the other hand, if you used to soaking cookware or stick cookware in dishwasher, then carbon steel won’t work


Oh no, don’t buy a “non-stick” wok. It really limits your cook temp to, um, I guess I’d say, non-wok temperatures.

Sorry to fixate on this one part of your post. I don’t know which is better as between the wok or kadhai, which I think is your main question. I do agree that the longer single handle on a wok is a pain for me when it comes to storage and that a couple of “ear” type handles would cause less of a storage issue.

But please, for the love of God, don’t buy a “non-stick” version of either of a wok or a kadhai.


I have a bunch of kadhais (they nest, so you can use the right size rather than one-size-fits-all) but I also have a flat-bottomed carbon steel wok. Gas stove.

I use the small and medium ones mainly for deep frying (in my mom’s kitchen they are the base case cooking vessel of choice).

My kadhais don’t have handles at all, my wok has a straight handle and a helper handle.

If he wants a wok, I’d go with an inexpensive flat-bottomed carbon steel wok (with a lid) over a kadhai, it’s easier to use on western gas stoves. Stick with the long handle – if you’re blasting heat under the wok, the distance is useful.

Mine sits in the oven or on the stovetop, it’s not a big deal.


A bunch? :slight_smile:

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Yes. As I explained, Indian use of kadhais is different than Chinese use of woks. The right size for each purpose, not one size fits all. They nest, no handles (but can also be found with handles angled so as not to hamper nesting).

Here’s a pic of a bunch of nested jumbo kadhais (with handles) from the sweet shop I visited this weekend.


Yes, he has specifically said he wants a wok at least 4 times in the last month… I don’t think he will be doing much tossing, probably a lot of continual stirring of the food with occasional tossing. I don’t mind handwashing CS, it is the seasoning part I am worried about.
Per this board’s advice, I have been looking at the Wok Shop site. Thankk you so much everyone, for all the advice!!!


IMO don’t sweat the seasoning. Just cooking with it is the way to develop wok hei. A wok spatula, slightly curved on the end, will take care of any sticking issues.

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With apologies to Tim (@Vecchiouomo), but you might want to check out the Google reviews on The Wok Shop before deciding to order.

They’re down to 3.2 stars and it seems they may be overwhelmed with orders and having difficulty keeping up with demand. The majority of the negative reviews relate to long delays, many times waiting months after the product was supposed to have been delivered.

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Those pictured have handles, yes?

Tim’s advice is good. When it is first used (after washing), stirfry a few batches of peeled ginger and green onions. Then just brush out and rinse with very hot/boiling water. Use often. Seasoning will take care of itself.

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Sorry to hear that. It seems my favorite things are increasingly requiring a lot of lead time.

Aside from the delay which CCE has mentioned… I do recommend a few of the Made in USA woks they have like this one. They are good quality and the prices are not too high:

I do not recommend the so called hand hammered wok they have.


Why don’t you recommend their hand hammered pow wok? The handle? The hammering? Something else? I’ve been wanting a hand hammered wok, and was thinking I’d probably pick one up next time I was in SF Chinatown.