The Easiest Paneer butter Masala you will ever make
Paneer Butter Masala, is yet another popular Punjabi dish. Paneer is nothing but Indian cottage cheese. This is the vegetarian version of Butter chicken masala. Both are served as accompaniments to Naan in restaurants, though they go well with rotis and chapatis. I even like to have it with Dosa or idli.
Very few ingredients are sauteed, ground, cooked with the paneer pieces and finally cream is added. Its that simple, but lip smackingly good. It has a mild sweet taste, and so is always a kids favourite. As I always tell you, this may not be the authentic Punjabi recipe, but is so good that you will look no further.
Paneer can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store. You can easily make your own by curdling milk.( My recipe coming soon ). I usually make this gravy using store bought paneer, and it always comes out well.
But honestly, whenever I make paneer butter masala, I never have cream in my house. Our South Indian cuisine does not require cream and I buy only when needed. The demand for naan and paneer butter masala comes all of a sudden from my kids, that almost always I end up making without cream.
So I devised this dummy cream, which replaces cream so well that you will not find the difference 🙂 . This recipe has been made with my dummy cream, and it came out so well that my picky eater son certified it the best!
Fresh cream gives the gravy a velvety texture. When you are using my alternative method, the texture may not be the same, but the taste will not be compromised. Even if you have cream, you should try this method once in a way, as it is more healthier. You can omit the condensed milk or the honey if you feel it will become too sweet. For us it was just right.
Over to the recipe…
Paneer Butter Masala
- 200 g Paneer/Cottage cheese (cubed)
- 3 medium sized ripe tomatoes
- 1 big onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1" piece ginger
- 3 cashew nuts
- 3-4 whole kashmiri chillies
- 1/2 cup fresh cream
- honey/sugar to taste
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder/all spice powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- a big pinch kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
- salt to taste
- water as needed
Replacement for cream
- 1 tbsp milk powder
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1 tsp condensed milk
- Soak the frozen paneer cubes in hot water for about 10 minutes. Once it softens, lightly squeeze out the water. Saute the paneer cubes in a tsp of butter, till it just heats up all over and keep aside. The paneer should not change color.
- In a bit of butter,around 1-2 tsps, add the sliced onion,garlic, ginger, cashews and red chillies. Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Saute well till the raw flavour of the onions and garlic disappear.
- Once it fries, add the chopped tomatoes and 1tsp of sugar, to mellow down the tanginess of tomatoes.
- Saute well till all the water from the tomatoes evaporate. Cool down and grind in a blender or mixer. Strain the puree using a big eyed sieve to remove the tomato seeds.
- In the same pan melt a tbsp of butter. Add the strained puree and cook.
- Once it starts boiling, add the turmeric powder, garam masala powder and kasuri methi.
- If the gravy is too thick add half a cup of water and required salt.
- Cook till you get a nice aroma, and the gravy thickens a bit. Now add the sauteed paneer pieces and cook for 2 minutes. Add the honey.
- Simmer the flame and add the cream, little by little slowly stirring till it all incorporates into the gravy. Once it reaches the required consistency switch off and garnish with coriander leaves. Do not let the gravy boil once you add the cream, as it will curdle.
- But if you are like me, and you do not have stock of cream in your house, then create the dummy cream using the recipe above, and use it in place of cream.
- Serve hot with Naan.
- I always prefer using whole Kashmiri red chillies as it gives it a nice red hue. If you cannot get it, you can very well use Kashmiri red chilly powder. But when cream is added, it changes to an Orangish tint. So beware when you buy this at the restaurant. Without adding red food color, you cannot get that red color as you see in the gravies in the restaurant. I am dealing with the harmful effects of food color in my additives post, coming up soon. For people in Qatar, Eastern brand Kashmiri red whole chillies are found at all shops. I get mine at FFC.
- Adding a pinch of salt with onions will get them fried quickly. Adding sugar to tomatoes will greatly reduce the tanginess and make it subtle. I have seen that however red the tomatoes are, they impart tanginess in gravies even though they seem sweet while having raw.
- Its a good idea to balance the tanginess by adding honey/sugar/jaggery etc, before adding the cream so that chances of curdling are nullified. I have never experienced this curdling issue till date.
- Putting the paneer in hot water straight from the freezer makes it very soft. Be gentle while squeezing the water out of it as it can get crumbled.
- Do not omit kasuri methi as it gives the main flavour to the recipe. Always crush the dry leaves with your hands before adding to the gravy so that the flavour gets fully released into the gravy.
- Balancing the tangy, sweet and salt tastes, gives the best paneer butter masala. So adjust spices as per your taste buds.