Paneer (cottage cheese) is a high protein food; substituted for meat in many vegetarian dishes. It is also a great source of calcium. There are many dishes prepared from paneer. One such dish is Paneer Butter Masala – it is a most popular cuisine from Northern India and is also one of the favourite main course menus in all Indian restaurants. Soft and succulent cottage cheese cooked in a rich creamy tomato gravy, enjoyed with rotis, naan or steamed rice.
Prep time : 15mins, Cooking time : 15mins
250gms cottage cheese/paneer cubes
2 medium sized onions, blanched and pureed
3 medium sized tomatoes, blanched and pureed
1 tbspn ginger garlic paste (homemade or store bought)
¼ cup cashew-nuts, blanched and grind into fine paste, adding milk or water
½ tspn corriander powder (optional)
¼ tspn turmeric powder
½ tspn chilli powder
1 tspn paprika
½ tspn dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi (crushed)
1 tspn garam masala powder (homemade or store bought)
a scant cup water
pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
1½ tbspn cream/malai (increase/decrease)
To prep and keep aside
1. Fry paneer till light golden brown. Remove and transfer the fried paneer in a bowl of cold water. Let it sit. Drain after a couple of minutes.
2. Bring water to rolling boil, carefully drop the washed tomatoes in hot water for 10-12 mins. Switch off heat. Remove, plunge them in cold water. Drain, cool and puree.
3. Follow same procedure for onions and cashew-nuts.
Take a pan. Add oil and then add butter. Tip in onion paste. Saute nicely till it reaches golden brown colour and the raw taste goes. Now, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute again for a minute.
Tip in the cashew-nut paste, Saute. Add tomato paste, and the masala powders except dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi and garam masala. Stir nicely till oil starts releasing out.
At this stage, add water, sugar and salt. Mix well. Simmer and cook till you get the desired consistency. The curry will begin to thicken.
Add the fried paneer. Simmer for few mins.
Finally, add garam masala powder and crushed dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi . Combine everything together. Switch off heat.
Garnish with fresh cream/malai and a dollop of butter; ready to be served.
The cook’s notes
Use firm paneer for this dish
If using frozen paneer cubes, defrost them.
Use ripe, red tomatoes for this preparation
Can also use tofu instead of paneer
Frying the paneer is done to retain shape and is optional
Do not cook paneer for a longer duration, as they may break and become dense
Can also use boiled milk (room temperature) instead of water, skipping sugar
The onions and tomatoes should be blanched just right