Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer Butter Masala – Butter Chicken’s vegetarian twin. I think I love this dish a little more than Butter Chicken because I’ve eaten it at so many different places – from restaurants, to roadside dhabas, to friends’ lunchboxes in school. The recipe is nearly identical to my Butter Chicken recipe, but there’s a difference to the way you treat the cottage cheese before introducing it to this lush gravy.

THE GRAVY

  1. In a pan / wok, heat 1 tsp canola oil + 1 tsp butter. Using oil and butter together will prevent the butter from burning.
  2. Add one large chopped onion, two chopped large red tomatoes, 12 – 15 cashew nuts, 2 tbsp watermelon seeds, 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste. Cook till the tomatoes look mushy and break down.
  3. Cool and puree this mixture in a blender. If you want a really fine gravy, pass the puree through a strainer. I like a little bit of texture to my gravy so leave it as it is.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil + butter in a wok and add all the puree
  5. Add 1 tsp Turmeric, 3 tsp of Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder, 1 tbsp Coriander Powder, and 1 tsp of Garam Masala powder. Keep stirring on high heat for at least 5 min. Things will splutter, but that’s okay.
  6. Add 2 tbsp of ketchup. This is optional, but I feel like the ketchup has nice hits of sweetness and acidity and rounds off the dish quite well.
  7. Add 2 tbsp of cream and cook the gravy till it looks rich and shiny.
  8. Crumble 1 tbsp of Kasuri Methi (dry fenugreek leaves) on top. If your leaves feel soft, toast them gently in pan for about a minute and gently powder them over your dish.
NOTE: It is super important that you use Kashmiri Red Chilli for this dish. This chilli is low on heat and big on colour, and it what gives Butter Chicken that lovely shade of orange.

THE PANEER (COTTAGE CHEESE)

  1. Cut a 300 gm block of cottage cheese into medium sized cubes
  2. Blanch the cubes in boiling water, for 3 minutes
  3. Drain using a slotted spoon, and transfer to the gravy immediately.

THE ASSEMBLY

  1. With a gentle hand, mix the paneer into the gravy. Don’t get all aggressive here. The paneer is super delicate and will break easily.
  2. Add another dash of cream and turn off the heat.

THE SMOKE (DHUNGAR)

  1. This is where things get really interesting
  2. Heat a small piece of charcoal on a open fire
  3. Once glowing, put the charcoal into a little steel / clay bowl and very carefully place the bowl inside the dish of Paneer Butter Masala
  4. Pour 1/2 tsp ghee on top of the coal and immediately put a lid on the dish
  5. The dish will fill up with smoke and start infusing the Paneer with that wonderful Tandoori aroma
  6. Open the dish once all the smoke has disappeared
  7. Garnish with a final dusting of Kasuri Methi, a drizzle of cream, and serve with Naan or a simple rice dish like Onion Pulao or Peas Pulao.

Over and out!

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