Recipes: Paneer Butter Masala

A restaurant favourite, Paneer Butter Masala is a staple in pretty much every Indian restaurant, even those not serving north Indian food. A mild but creamy dish made with lots of butter and ghee with onions, tomatoes and cream and paneer is the star of the show.

I had been thinking about making this for a while and finally made it a couple of weeks back. But please do not stint on the liberal use of ghee and butter, so this is something you can make for a special occasion or when you have guests over. You can also make the gravy ahead of time and freeze it. I also made a double batch of the gravy, froze some and make a mixed veg curry with uit which was equally yummy. Everyone loved the recipe so much I already got requests to make it again.

Paneer Butter Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen paneer, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and then drained
  • 3 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 200 ml cooking cream
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 15-20 pieces of cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes and drained
  • 4-5 tbsp ghee
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3-4 cardamom pods
  • 3-4 fresh or dried red chillies
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish

Method:

  • Heat half the butter and ghee in a pan and when the butter melts add in the cloves and cardamom pods and saute for a few seconds.
  • Then add in the cumin seeds, onions, garlic, red chillies and ginger, sauteing for a few seconds before you add the next ingredient.
  • When the onions start becoming translucent, add in the cashew nuts and let the nuts start to soften.
  • Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and let the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy. Remove from the flame and keep aside to cool completely.
  • Once this mixture is completely cool, blend to a fine paste, adding water as needed. Make sure the paste is completely fine and there are no bits of anything left. Use a strainer if needed otherwise, the recipe will not be restaurant quality. Keep aside.
  • In the same pan, heat the balance ghee and butter and pour the tomato paste into the pan. Season with salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder and stir well. This mixture will splutter a lot, so make sure you cover the pan and let the tomato paste, stirring at intervals.
  • When the tomato paste starts leaving oil on the sides, add in the cooking cream and crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hand and sprinkle over the gravy. Add a bit of water to thin the gravy if needed.
  • Add the paneer cubes and gently stir so the paneer is completely covered by the gravy. Gently mix everything so the paneer pieces do not break.
  • Cook on low to medium heat for 5-7 minutes and then switch off the flame.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with jeera rice, rotis or any Indian flatbread.

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