Butter Paneer or Paneer Makhani
Sunday afternoon’s call for lazy lunch. Last week it was Butter Paneer or Paneer Makhani. For Punjabi vegetarians, it is the ultimate dish with its delicious creamy smooth gravy with a hint of spiciness. Now there is nothing special about Butter paneer masala as it is available all over North India, but I am in Guadalajara, Mexico and I didn’t even think Paneer or Cottage Cheese would be available at the store. To my pleasant surprise, the paneer was available, and it was just perfect.
Known as Queso Panela; queso in Spanish means cheese and there is an entire array of Mexican cheeses. Made with whole milk, it has low fat and we can trace its origins back to Burgos, Spain. They usually ate Panela fresh as a snack or to top salads. I have seen Panela crumble over tacos.
When I visit Delhi, I am offered many paneer dishes as I am a vegetarian, but strangely, I am no paneer lover. I have seen paneer lovers in the north crumbling fresh paneer over any dish or eating it raw.
We also know paneer butter masala as Paneer Makhani in Punjabi cuisine. They generously use butter and tomato-based gravy and cream, giving the gravy a smooth, tangy and creamy texture. If paneer is not available in the market, then you can just make it at home. You need only two ingredients; milk and lemon or vinegar or curds. I have a blog on how to make paneer here. Check it out.
Recipe for Butter Paneer Masala
250 grams of Paneer cubes or Cottage Cheese
4 tbsps butter
1 tsp Ginger Paste
Pinch food colour (optional)
1 tsp Garlic Paste
1 Bay leaf
1-inch Cinnamon Stick
1 Onion, chopped
6 Tomatoes blanched and chopped
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
1/2 tsp Garam masala Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tablespoons Fresh Cream
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 cup thick curds
Pinch food colour (optional)
1 green chilli or 2
Fresh Cilantro chopped
First, take a bowl and add the curds. Now mix in the ginger and garlic paste, salt, chilli powder, garam masala, and turmeric.
Actually, you can add the food colour to give it typical restaurant-style gravy. I didn’t have any food colour here, and I used Kashmiri saffron.
Next, add the paneer cubes, and salt and marinate for an hour. In a pan or kadhai, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil.
After that, add all the whole spices and ginger-garlic paste. Sprinkle the kasuri methi, and sauté, for a minute or two and add the chillies.
I didn’t have green chillies, and I used one whole Serrano chilli. Serrano peppers are medium-sized Mexican chilli peppers and fiery and sharp. Serranos look like jalapenos, but they are small, pointed, and lots spicier.
Now, add the onions and stir till nice and pink and translucent but not brown.
Add the blanched and chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Cover and cook on simmer till the oil leaves the edges.
Add the marinated paneer and cook until you get a nice, thick gravy.
Switch off the flame and serve Butter Paneer Masala or Paneer Makhani garnished with fresh cream and a blob of butter. I like to add some fresh cilantro too.
Serve hot with nan, roti, paratha, rice, bread or tortilla.