I love Paneer or Indian cottage cheese but somehow don’t like the creamy paneer butter masala sold in the restaurants and the paneer makhani is always too sweet for my taste. This dish however has the perfect Dhaba style taste of Paneer Makhni. I learned it from an elderly sardarji who owned a Dhaba in Rudrapur on way to Ranikhet. The dhaba is closed now and ‘darji is no more but the taste of his food and the memories of his tenderheartedness and love still linger in my thoughts.
So if you are looking for a lighter version of Paneer makhani try this recipe. This may not be the authentic or traditional way to cook it but it certainly is delicious. Always use soft fresh Paneer as that’s the star ingredient here. I use either almonds or cashew nuts or a mix of both in this recipe. Usually canned tomato puree is preferred as it has an intense taste but for everyday consumption I use the described method. I absolutely love how the gravy coats the tender paneer cubes turning it into a spectacular lip smacking dish. Did I say Paneer is the star ingredient? No, it is the fresh kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves that spin the magic in this dish. I like the earthy flavor of Kasoori methi and have been using Just Organik’ Kasoori Methi in almost everything. Trust me it is as good as homemade.
Fresh Paneer or Indian Cottage Cheese – 250 gm
Medium size Onion ( chopped)- 1
Minced Ginger+Garlic+green chili – 1 tbsp
Red ripe tomatoes ( chopped)- 3
Bay leaf- 1
Black cardamom – 2
Dry red chili -1 small
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Kasoori Methi – 1 tsp ( lightly roasted, crushed)
Butter + Oil – 1 tbsp each
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
sugar – 1/4th tsp
Soaked almonds or cashew nut or a mix – 5-6
Fresh cream (Malai) – 2 tbsp (beaten) (optional)
In a heavy bottom pan add the oil and butter together. Doing this will ensure that the butter doesn’t burn.
Once the oil warms up, add bay leaf, cardamom ( lightly pounded) and cumin seeds.
Once the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the ginger, garlic, green chili mix and stir. I added little extra pods of garlic ( 3-4) as I love the garlicky taste in this dish.
Add the chopped onion and saute it till translucent then add the almonds and or cashew. Stir and add the chopped tomato. Stir nicely and cook till they soften then turn off the heat.
Let this cool and once at room temperature take this mixture in a blender and pulse it till it is a smooth paste.
Now, in the same pan add a little more butter and add this paste. Give it a good stir and when it starts to bubble add garam masala, chili powder, coriander powder, little sugar and salt to taste. Keep the flame on medium and cook it till the rawness of the masala goes and oil separates. If the masala seems too dry add a little warm warm. it should be a thick gravy. Cook it for 10 minutes stirring continuously. once the gravy is smooth and nice add the toasted crushed Kasoori methi and stir it in. Let the gravy cook for another five minutes.
Now add the paneer cubes and gently stir so that every cube is covered in the masala. Let it simmer for another five minutes then turn off the heat. Add the freshly beaten malai and it is ready to serve. You may garnish it with fresh coriander leaves and a little more smooth beaten malai.
Serve with kulchas, naans or steamed rice or any other breads of your choice.
If you try this recipe please let me know.
Check out another equally delicious Paneer dish Here