I have prepared this dish twice in the near past, and wanted to tweak it until I was satisfied it was ready for posting. This is my take on Butter Paneer, one of the most popular Indian dishes.
Right off the bat, I would like to say that this is not for the faint hearted, and I prepare this dish only once in a while for special occasions. If this were to be cooked very regularly then I might as well be writing my blog from atop my elliptical machine.
I like this dish and make it especially for my wife who adores it and anything with paneer, but doesn't get to eat much of it. This north Indian dish is on the menu of any Indian restaurant you walk into. Although most ingredients are the same there will be some variations. Personally I don't prefer the use of cashew nut paste (used by most) as it makes this already rich dish richer and creamier. I like to let the other flavors and ingredients make their statement too. So I did away with the cashew nuts.
I will also say this. This is a ridiculously easy dish to prepare and let no else, including your mind tell you otherwise. Read on and you will understand. So roll up your sleeves and get to the fun and you will be amazed at your cooking prowess :-)
400 g (14 oz) Paneer (preferably 'Nanak Paneer' or any soft paneer)
2 1/2 tbsp oil
1 large onion diced
6 plum tomatoes, medium sized, diced
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic grated
3/4 inch piece of ginger grated
3 whole cardamoms (unseeded and then ground fine)
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (a.k.a kasuri methi in the Indian stores)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 tsp honey
handful fresh coriander leaves chopped fine
Paneer is sold in Indian stores in block form. Make sure that the paneer you buy is on the softer side. I usually buy the brand called "Nanak Paneer". There are plenty of others available but they are all harder. This paneer will melt in your mouth as you chew on it.
Cut the paneer into 1/2 inch cubes. On a non stick pan, add 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and roast the paneer in low to medium flame. Once most of the sides are golden brown, turn the heat off. Immerse the paneer in a bowl of warm water with salt to preserve its tenderness while we prepare the gravy.
In a pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and saute the onions on low to medium flame until translucent. Add the tomatoes and saute for another 5 minutes. Let them cool off and then blend the onions and tomatoes in a grinder until smooth.
In a deep pan/wok, on low flame add 3 tbsp unsalted butter (why would anyone make butter paneer devoid of butter?). Then add the grated garlic and ginger, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, cardamom powder, red chili powder, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (crush them as you add them) and saute all of this for half a minute.
Add the blended onion and tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes. Drain the water from the paneer, and add the paneer to this. Saute for a couple of minutes and add the heavy cream, followed by the honey. Mix everything together well. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with the coriander leaves.
I would recommend preparing this dish several hours before you serve to enhance its taste. Serve hot with roti, naan or rice, and enjoy this mouth watering dish.
Health Rating: Low
Note: Paneer and methi and all of the above ingredients are available at any Indian grocery store. The dry fenugreek leaves come in a big box. You can sprinkle them in any gravy to give it an additional aromatic flavoring.