Pleasing Paneer

November 26th, 2009 Mona Posted in Black Peppercorns, Canned crushed tomatoes, Canola Oil, Cardamom/Elaichi, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Cinnamon/Dalchini, Clove/Laung, Coriander seeds, Ginger-Garlic paste, Kasuri methi, Milk and Milk Products, Paneer, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Turmeric/Haldi, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz, Yogurt/Dahi 16 Comments » 13,396 views

During days when I do not feel like having any non-vegetarian meal, I treat myself with some Paneer in a creamy gravy curry. The non-melting attribute and meat like texture of Paneer is favored by vegetarians and is a very good substitute for meat.

Shallow fried Paneer cubes

To add a shahi touch/richness and thickness to the gravy, paneer is simmered in a cashewnut+milk puree along with yogurt and tomatoes. I have used milk instead of using cream, you can go ahead and use cream for the gravy if you want. You will definitely fall in love with this delightful paneer curry which is one my favorites.

You can use home-made Paneer,or store-bought~ easily available at Indian stores in the cold sections. Store brought ones has additives and lacks freshness, but saves time.

Shahi Paneer Masala – A Royal Cottage Cheese Curry

Ingredients:

Yellow Onions – 2, large, roughly chopped
Canola oil – 5 tbsp
Home-made Paneer – 400 gms, cut into cubes (if using store bought, I recommend Mother-dairy brand)
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Cardamom – 2
Cloves – 2
Black peppercorns – 5
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/4 cup, soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk for 30 minutes and pureed to a smooth paste
Yogurt 2% – 1/2 cup
Canned Crushed tomatoes – 185 ml (or you can also use 5 medium sized pureed tomatoes)
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Karuri Methi – 1/4 cup
Milk 2% – 1 1/2 cup

Shahi Paneer masala

Method:

1. Grind the roughly chopped onions in a blender and make a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the canned crushed/pureed tomatoes and yogurt and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Cut paneer into small cubes. Shallow fry over medium heat until light brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fried paneer pieces aside to a bowl.
3. In the same oil, add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves. Fry them for a minute and add the onion paste and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell wards off and oil starts separating. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the cashewnut+milk paste, tomatoes+yogurt mixture, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add kasuri methi to the gravy and mix well. Add the fried paneer pieces and mix gently. Pour in milk and mix well, bring the gravy to boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick and oil separates. Serve.

This goes to JFI-Paneer being hosted by Trupti at her blog ‘The Spice Who Loved Me‘.

Luv
Mona

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Paneer Butter Masala

October 5th, 2009 Mona Posted in Butter/Makhan, Canned Tomato paste, Canola Oil, Cashewnuts/Kaaju, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Coriander seeds, Garam masala powder, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Chillies, Half and Half Cream, Kasuri methi, Paneer, Quick fix meals, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Tomato Ketchup, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 19 Comments » 13,674 views

Any Indian restaurants are sure to list Paneer Butter Masala on their menu. One of the favorites of any Indian, this North-Indian curry is rich, creamy and pleasing to the eye with its bright orange-red color.

Paneer Butter Masala

I usually prepare my own home-made Paneer at home. But occasionally I get it from the stores to simplify my work. The usual ready made brands that I trust and buy usually are Nanak and Mother dairy. Recently I had got Paneer manufactured under ‘Nanak’ brand name, and it was a totally bad experience for me. The paneer block had bits of egg-shell like pieces in it (which when I had later contacted their Manager, I was told that the pieces were scales of deposited calcium chloride from the surface of the tubes in which the coagulation of milk takes place, which look like egg shells, he also apologized for it and asked if he could replace the product). It was totally unpleasant, and I hence had to discard the curry I had prepared using it, as I did not like the feeling of a crunchy Paneer.

The following is my sisters recipe, which I thoroughly enjoyed eating along with fresh warm Methi wale Naan.

Butter Paneer Masala – Paneer in rich buttery tomato-cream sauce

Home-made Paneer block – 400 gms
Tomatoes – 4, medium sized, chopped
Long green chillies – 2, chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tsp
Tomato Ketchup – 1 tbsp (I used Heinz)
Canned Tomato puree – 2 1/2 tsp
Half and half cream – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Cashew nuts – handful, whole
Unsalted Butter

Fried Paneer cubes (Paneer is Indian Cheese)

Method:

1. Cut the paneer block into rectangular bite size pieces. Heat Canola oil in a pan, and shallow fry the paneer pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove using a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined platter. Keep aside. Also, fry the sliced onions and cashew nuts individually in the same oil until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon onto a platter and keep aside.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies into a blender and blend into a smooth puree.
3. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan at medium heat and as soon as it warms up, add the ginger garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add the fried onion and mix well. Pour in the pureed tomato+chilli paste. Add coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, kasuri methi, tomato ketchup and tomato puree. Let cook for 5 minutes covered on simmer.
4. Pour in half and half cream and salt. Mix well. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the fried paneer pieces and let it cook for a further 3-5 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and fried cashew nuts and serve.

Luv,
Mona

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Basic How To’s: Series II~ Paneer and Matar Paneer

October 9th, 2008 Mona Posted in Canned Tomato paste, Canola Oil, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Home-made Paneer, Paneer, Peas/Matar, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 44 Comments » 12,875 views

Basic How To: Paneer

Paneer is fresh Indian cheese, easy to prepare but the only drawback is that it takes a lot of milk to prepare a little paneer. It perhaps the only kind of cheese most commonly eaten in India with a sweet smell, kind of rubbery with a mild flavor and the best form of protein source for vegetarians in their diet next to Soya protein(TSP_TVP). It is a block of condensed milk solids made my curdling milk (low fat or high fat) with acid, then strained with a muslim cloth and left to set under a weight until it is set into a block of white smooth textured cheese.

The first time I tasted Paneer was when I was in my teens during my school days. At the lunch break, I and my class mates would sit under the trees for shade in fresh air in the school playground with napkins spread on our laps and share our tiffin boxes passing about a spoonful of what each one of us had brought that day until we all had a sample of everyone else’s to taste. Soft, spongy and meaty. I immediately fell in love with it. There are always memories associated with food. Since then, I love to add paneer in my food.

Vacuum-packed paneer is available ready made, either frozen or fresh, at most of the Indian stores. I love to prepare my own Paneer whenever possible as I find it more soft, fresh and delectable. The procedure is effortless. You can later cut it into cubes and store them either frozen if you plan to use it after a while or refrigerate it in a plastic wrap to use it the next day.

Basic How To’s: Series II ~ Homemade Paneer – Indian (Unaged) Cheese

Ingredients:

Milk (low fat or full fat) - 2 litres
Buttermilk – 4 cups

Homemade block of Paneer – Indian (Unaged) Cheese

Method:

1. Line a sieve with a moistened muslin cloth and put it over a large pot.
2. Bring milk in a saucepan to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Add the buttermilk, and lower the heat. Keep stirring the milk for a few minutes until you see the milk has curdled completely.
4. Carefully strain the curdled milk through the sieve lined with the muslin cloth. Let the whey collect in the bottom saucepan. The whey is highly nutritious. Store it to use later on in other curries instead of water (at this stage if you wish, you can experiment and add a few flavors that you like to the curds in the muslin cloth, like dried herbs, etc. Mix the dried herbs well with the curds and continue). Later, lift the edges of the cloth and tie the corners of the cloth into a bag completely enclosing the curds.
5. Remove the sieve from saucepan and place it in the sink. Place the bag of curds back in the sieve. Set aside under a heavy weight for about 3-4 hours to press to a flat shape about 2 cm thick. Later, transfer the Paneer block to a zip-lock packet and store refrigerated. Use within a week.

Tip: Paneer can also be made from failed yogurt.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

The following is a curry I prepare quite often using paneer and frozen peas. The rich and subtle spicing in this curry is worth trying out. You will all love this gluttingly delicious side dish.

***

Matar Paneer – Indian Cheese and Peas curry

Ingredients:

Home-Made Soft Paneer/Cottage Cheese – 200 gms, cut into bite sized cubes
Fresh or Frozen Peas/Matar – 2 cups
Dry Roasted Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Dry Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely chopped
Tomato paste - 6 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp

Matar Paneer – Indian Cheese and Peas curry

Method:

1. Pour oil into a large frying fan with lid on medium heat, and as soon as it warms up add the chopped onion. Stir fry it till lightly browned, then add the tomato paste, coriander and cumin seed powder and mix well. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
2. Add the cubed paneer, red chilli powder, salt, half cup water and gently mix. Close the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Add peas and gently fold them in. Cover the lid and let cook for a minute more. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Serve it warm along with freshly prepared Rotis.

Luv,
Mona

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Palak Paneer

August 4th, 2007 Mona Posted in Canola Oil, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Garam masala powder, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Chillies, Hyderabadi special, Light Cream, Milk and Milk Products, Paneer, Red Chilli flakes, Salt/Namak, Spinach/Palak ki bhaji, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Vegetables/Tarkariyaan, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 1 Comment » 6,161 views

As usual, today I was scanning the refrigerator for ingredients to prepare a curry for the lunch. I found some frozen spinach and paneer in the deep freezer. Palak Paneer is what striked my mind and I immediately began to work my way to prepare it.

This is great with Parathas, or even along with rice. This dish can be found on the menu of most North Indian restaurants all over the world. Here, I have used Frozen spinach for my convenience, you can substitute it with equal amount of fresh spinach.

Ingredients:

  • Frozen/Fresh Chopped Spinach – 500 gms
  • Yellow Onion – 1, large, chopped
  • Tomato – 2, large, chopped
  • Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbs
  • Canola Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Green Chilli – 1 tsp, chopped
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Red chilli flakes – 1/2 tsp
  • Paneer/Cottage cheese – 250 gms, cubed
  • Canola Oil for frying paneer
  • Light Cream -2 tbsp

Method:

  • In a pan, add a tablespoon of oil and fry the onions till very light brown.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste, and green chilli paste and give it a good stir.
  • After 3 minutes add, the chopped tomatoes and the spinach.
  • Cover the lid of the pan and let it cook on simmer until the spinach is soft and pasty. Add a little water if needed to make the spinach soft and mushy.
  • Cool and grind the above spinach mixture to a paste.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and deep fry the cubed paneer/cottage cheese till light browned on all sides. Remove the paneer from the oil into a bowl and keep aside.
  • In a another pan pour the remaining oil and add cumin seeds, let them splutter.
  • Now add the grinded paste of spinach to the pan, sprinkle in the garam masala and salt. Reduce heat and stir well.
  • Add the paneer pieces and gentlymix them into the spinach paste.
  • Simmer for 2-3 minutes, and take the pan off the heat. The paneer will soften in the heat.
  • Serve hot, swirled with the cream.

Luv,
Mona

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