Friday, March 22, 2013

Paneer Butter Masala /Paneer in a Spiced Tomato Cream Curry

We reach the second part and dramatic end to my challenge result. Can you guess what I did? No hints and please no cheating. But how could you not (?) stare into the gigantous picture up and running on top of the screen.

For this, we''ll reel in our conversation from last week, where cheese cubes-made-from-two-ingredients were the top subject. Today those chunksters have reached their purpose, an ending so superb to their spongy, tad neutral existence. Predicament where masala, spice and everything almost greater than nice take part and parcel in paneer's next segue.

Paneer butter masala is pretty and it's gourmet, assaulted with all kinds of spice in a tomato-ey cream base. Served on countless Indian menus, it is many times a chef favorited item. Considering the numerous trappings of RGC (real good curry), this is one that does not require the same level of difficulty. About ten components, along with those Indian preparation habituals are brought to boil, simmered and pulped to create a densely rich flavor base. With the conciseness of three steps, one pan and a blender, the bulk of your work is done and put away until it all emerges together, and most flawlessly so, for a sensational good curry conclusion. The roasted cheese cuts offer meaty, but light character to anchor properly into this splendid atmosphere. Cashews softened and ground with the rest give gravy a fantastic burden of substance.

This is a gorgeous hunk of a dish. The three dairy does right elements balance perfectly into the fire  and zing of paneer bm, a quality that will knock all and any lackluster straight out of your mouth.

That being said, this one production helped in feeding us four, twice, due to the fact that it is richer than most accompaniments to white rice or naan. Perhaps, a plus, in that it may prevent you from gluttonous overload, thus killing overtime on your next treadmill date.

  • 1 c paneer cubes (homemade or storebought frozen)
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cardamom
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick or ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 onion cut into fourths
  • 1 inch ginger chopped roughly
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 2 serranos (seed if needed)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp cayenne or red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped cashew nuts (cashewnuts)
  • 1/2 tsp dried and powdered fenugreek leaves
  • 1 ½ c water
  •  1 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream  (for a lighter version replace with half and half)
  • 2-3 dollops of butter 
  • 2 sprigs chopped cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle fresh paneer cubes with cayenne, salt and pepper. Lay out in a single layer onto baking sheet. Finish tops with a coating of the cooking spray.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes, checking in between to see if tops are brown. Once browned, take out of oven. Set aside.
  • Lay a large deep set skillet over medium high and heat oil. Lightly stir in all ingredients from cardamom to tomatoes for about a minute. Put in cayenne, coriander, cumin and cook  for an additional minute. Add cashews
  • Fill the pan with  enough water to cover ingredients, not more than an inch above.
  • Bring to boil, then let simmer, about 10-12 minutes, until all ingredients are cooked and onions are soft/fork tender.
  • Take off heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes. At this point you could discard skins from tomatoes. ( I leave them in.)
  • Pour  all the ingredients from skillet into blender with salt. Liquefy to pulp.
  • Pour back puree into the same skillet and over medium heat, allow ingredients to simmer, add the baked paneer cubes and stir to blend, allowing simmer for an additional minute or so.
  • Turn off heat. Stir in cream. 
  • Dot with butter. 
  • Sprinkle with cilantro.

I've seen the light! Prior to this I've used storebought paneer in butter masala, and handsdown, homemade wins, yielding fresher, taste and chunky texture- best part- it's super easy to make. But if you decide on storebought, I'll just look the other way.

Methi or fenugreek leaves are found dried and in box, in specialty groceries. They can be powdered with a mortar, better yet, the electric coffee bean grinder can help you out (henceforth not to be used for bean grinding). 

For me upping the spice ante is a must, usually meaning a sprinkle or two more of spice powders. It's toned down here, though, with enough to keep your tastebuds humming and not breathing fire.

This is the same framework for my chicken butter masala, where chicken breasts are seasoned, roasted and used the same way. Enough said, here. It deserves its own spot. Soon.

Mere mention of the butter masala transports me to the first days of being married to JZ. During the interim period of looking for a flat, we spent more than a few weeks in a hotel. Butter naan and Manoshanti's paneer butter masala kept us well fed for many of the nights spent in its rooms. This was before I knew what a kitchen was, and way before budget was part of our vocabulary. Needless to say that house hunting experience was pleasurably prolonged ( how could we turn our backs on such a good thing?). Serving it up almost a dozen and a half years later constantly reminds me of our time there, and of course the ten pounds that stayed with me, since.
You are made new~

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 
2 Corinthians 5:17


  1. looks divine,love it with naan:)

    1. I do too, that and rice, maybe a chappati or two ;-))

  2. 1st time here. What an amazing blog you have. Happy to follow u. PBM looks great!

    1. Thank you Madhavi K for such generosity in words. And thank you for being number 71, truly appreciate it .

  3. One of my favourite INdian dishes my friend in the history of forever :D


  4. please pass that on tisa... slurp!!!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!