Friday, April 20, 2012

Paneer Makhani (Paneer Butter Masala)

As I've stated before, I really REALLY love Indian food. However, I often shy away from making it at home because many recipes use hard to find ingredients. Not to mention it often dirties quite a few dishes and involves more prep than I care to do. But when Costco had two 14 oz. packs of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for sale, I couldn't resist. Dirty dishes be damned, I was making some Paneer Makhani.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the dish, it's cubes of cheese simmered in a tomato and cream based curry with a multitude of delicious spices. If you add golden raisins and cashews to the curry it becomes a royal dish called Shahi Paneer, but I'm not into raisins so I went with the standard.

I checked out a bunch of recipes and made my own recipe based on personal preference and what I had on hand. I was amazed at how much easier it was than the Chicken Tikka Masala that I sometimes make. Cubing the cheese and cutting the onion was all the prep I needed to do and in the end, I only ended up with one cutting board and one skillet to clean. Plus it tasted amazing!

This one is a keeper for sure. I hope you try it out soon.

Notes: Most recipes call for 1/4-1/2 tsp. of fenugreek. I didn't have it on hand, but I would highly suggest adding it if it's in your spice pantry.

If you find paneer in a package with slightly more or less than 14 oz., that's totally fine. I prefer to fry mine in the same skillet I use to make the gravy, but you can also soak the paneer in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes if you don't like the fried texture. 

Paneer Makhani (or Paneer Butter Masala)

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
14 oz. paneer, cut into cubes
3 Tbs. butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbs. garlic ginger paste
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. mace
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
1 can of crushed tomatos
½ c water
½ c cream
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the paneer on all sides until golden brown. Set aside.

Wipe out the pan and heat 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all the spices and bay leaves in a small bowl.

Add the garlic-ginger paste and spices to the skillet; cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add paneer and remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the gravy, cover and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and discard. Stir in cream and cilantro until warm, about 1 minute. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan (Indian flatbread).  

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