Paneer Masala is a rich & creamy Indian dish that is often prepared during special occasions. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is Paneer – Cottage Cheese. It is often seen as a main alternative dish to meat dishes and is very popular among vegetarians.
400 gms Paneer
1 large sized onion
2 medium sized tomatoes
1/2 inch ginger
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp fresh cream
10-12 whole cashews
2&1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1&1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (not spicy but one which adds colour)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
salt as per taste (approximately 1&1/2 tsp)
Around 2 cups of water
Start by dry roasting the cashews and then soak in water for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove excess water and transfer them to the food processor. Grind soaked cashews to a smooth thick paste, if required add little water.
Take a pan on medium-high flame, once the pan is hot add 2 tbsp oil. Add roughly chopped onions to hot oil and stir it well. Once the onions turns translucent, add dry masala powders like turmeric, coriander, red chilli and kashmiri chilli (do not add garam masala) along with chopped ginger & garlic. Stir everything for 1-2 minutes and then add roughly chopped tomatoes along with salt. Keep stirring until tomatoes turn mushy, and switch off the gas. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature. Transfer this mixture to a blender, add 1 cup of water and blend it into smooth paste.
Now our basic gravy for Paneer masala is ready, let’s move to next steps.
Take a pan on medium high flame and add 1/2 tbsp of oil. Once oil is hot add cumin seeds, black cardamom and bay leaf. Toss them for a minute in hot oil and then slowly add onion-tomato puree to the pan (you can switch to medium-low flame as puree will splutter initially while adding to the hot pan). Let it cook for 7-8 minutes and then add the cashew paste. Cashew paste is the one that gives creamy richness to the dish.
Stir gravy continuously for a couple of minutes and then add paneer cubes to it. Mix everything and let paneer cook in the gravy for 5-7 minutes. You can see oil starts separating out from the sides. Add kasuri methi to the gravy and mix well, it gives a nice aroma to gravy.
Simmer the gravy for a couple of minutes and then switch off the gas.
At the end drizzle fresh cream over the top and Paneer Masala is ready to serve.