But I also know that this paneer-repulsion isn’t going to get me anywhere especially given the fact that I’m surrounded by those (except one, thank you father-in-law!) who drool at the mention of paneer. I’ve tried as much as possible to escape making something paneer and I think until now it was just limited to using this cottage cheese in cheesecakes. Sometimes you just have to face the thing you dread the most to get over it, isn’t it? So on Independence day when we were wondering what to have for lunch, I volunteered to make some paneer makhni. My sister, who loves the cheese, was thrilled but at the same time hoped I wouldn’t back out or end up using tofu (which I often do) to trick her into eating the protein. The fiance was a little shocked but pleased and my friends who saw my BBM status wanted to if I was alright.
|The ingredients of a lazy lunch|
Anyway, since we were looking to have a lazy lunch on a holiday I served the paneer with some simple jeera rice and a mooli raita. I’m sure it goes well with rotis too and I plan to try that the next time around. I added some capsicum to the dish so that I’d have something on my plate too! Also since it is ‘makhni’ I didn’t shy from using the ghee/butter, and trust me it really made a difference! But what I was a little careful about was the use of cashewnuts, the original recipe called for 1/2 cup of cashewnuts to be ground to a paste but I used just 1 tbsp.
(Adapted from the book Punjabi Subzis by Tarla Dalal)
250 gms of paneer, cut into cubes
1 large capsicum, de-seeded and cut into cubes
1 tbsp of cashewnuts, ground into a paste with 1/4 cup of warm water
2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp of fresh curds
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1/4 cup of milk (I used this in place of cream)
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 green cardamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
To be ground into a paste:
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 red chillies, without the stem
1 tsp if sugar
Boil the tomatoes, red chillies and onions in some water with salt and sugar. Allow this to cool down and then grind it into a paste in the mixer. Keep it aside for a while.
Heat some ghee in a pan and add the whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom & bay leaves), saute until they begin to sputter and add the turmeric powder. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw smell disappears.
Slowly add the ground paste to this, mix well and allow the gravy to simmer for about 2 minutes. Cover the pan while doing this. Add the milk, tomato ketchup, red chilli powder and mix again. Cover and let the gravy simmer until it begins to reduce.
Next, add the paneer pieces and cook for another two minutes. By now the gravy should have thickened considerably. Turn the flame to the lowest degree possible and add the curd to this followed by the cashewnut paste and capsicum and stir well.
|One quick stir|
Cover and cook for a minute. Turn off the flame, check the seasoning and garnish with some coriander leaves before serving.
|Ready to go!|
*If you want to add cream to the recipe, do it in the end after turning off the flame.
* You can also fry the pieces of paneer in some ghee, but I find that this makes the paneer even more rubbery.
*To enhance the taste of the dish, sprinkle some kasuri methi over it before serving. This gives it a lovely aroma and is a contrast to the rich, slight sweetness of the dish on the whole.
|And… lunch is served!|
I’m sending this recipe to Bon Vivant Simply Sides at Sumee’s Culinary Bites, Favourite recipes event: Vegetarian recipes at Zesty South Indian Kitchen (even though it isn’t my favourite recipe, there are so many people I know who love paneer and have asked me to make this for them) and also to Let’s Celebrate Festival Food by Jagruti of JCO which is being hosted at Simply Food this month.