Going meatless, even if only for a few days a week, doesn’t mean you are going skinny. Though I adore vegan meals, I am nonetheless a vegetarian who also adores cheese – especially paneer.
Succulent lightly fried paneer cubes are the starring gem of this classic Indian Butter Paneer Masala, but the spices dress it all up in a essential way. This classic dish, next to Mattar Paneer, has always been a reliable gauge of the quality of the offerings provided from Indian restaurant selections. Of course, there is nothing like cooking up your own favorites in your kitchen.
Butter Paneer Masala
- 14 oz (400 g) paneer cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
- olive oil for frying
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3 to 4 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used Kashmiri chili powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
- pinch of cayenne
- 3 large plum tomatoes, finely chopped or puréed
- handful of dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- a few handfuls of fresh parsley or coriander, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream or water
- juice from 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon [highlight]homemade garam masala[/highlight]
Begin by frying the paneer cheese cubes. Heat 1 inch of olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. When hot, add the cubes to the pan and fry, stirring and turning often, until the paneer is lightly browned on all sides. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and onion and fry, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the onion begins to brown.
Add the green chilies and garlic and continue to stir for another minute. Now add the ground coriander, turmeric, chili powder, ground cumin, amchoor powder if using, and cayenne. Stir for another 30 seconds and then add the tomato, fenugreek leaves, sea salt and half of the the parsley or cilantro. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken.
Stir in the fried paneer cheese cubes, butter and cream or water. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more cream or water to achieve your desired consistency.
Now stir in the lemon juice and garam masala and gently simmer for another few minutes, then stir in the remaining chopped parsley or coriander. Turn of heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings