Paneer Makhani Recipe

Paneer Makhani Recipe Recipe

I don't make paneer makhani very often because of the calories, particularly since I started working out to lose the baby weight. But today I had an excuse: I had leftover cream from making a white peach macadamia tart (which I'll share tomorrow), a bucket of freshly picked tomatoes and a bag of cashew nuts in the pantry. 

I marinated the cubes of paneer prior to pan-frying them. The tangy flavor from the lemon juice, yogurt and cream balanced wonderfully with the sweetness from the tomato sauce. I didn't feel bad eating the dish because it was so good!

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

16 ounces paneer (Indian cheese), cubed
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
⅓ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
⅛ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander, freshly ground
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)
1½ teaspoons salt
3 heirloom tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons cashew nut flour (see tips)
1 bay leaf
2 yellow onions
1 Serrano green pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed


Directions

Prepping the chile: Using a paring knife, create a 2-inch incision in the whole chile pepper. Before cutting it into quarters, remove the seeds if you like the dish less spicy. Note: Remember not to rub your eyes after touching pepper seeds.

For the paneer:

Rinse the paneer and pat dry. In a bowl, combine the paneer, ⅛ teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, ground coriander and lemon juice. Let marinate for 30 minutes, then pat dry.

Heat the canola oil in a pan and fry the cubes of paneer until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set the paneer aside.

For the masala sauce: In a large deep saucepan, heat the canola oil. Fry the onion in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Add the remaining coriander and cinnamon. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the yogurt, stirring frequently. Transfer to a mini-blender and blend until the sauce is smooth. Set aside.

In the same saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the bay leaf, remaining ginger garlic paste, cumin seeds and the rest of the red chili powder. Cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the sauce from the blender. Cook over high heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a food mill. If you don't have a food mill, you can use a food processor, then pass the sauce through a coarse-mesh sieve and discard the tomato skin, which can feel unpleasant. Return the masala sauce to the pan, let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the sauce thickens. Finish with cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Serrano pepper and if you're a bit more adventurous, don't hesitate to add more. Mix well and add the mint. Cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Assembly time:

When you're almost ready to serve, bring the sauce to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the saucepan. Season with salt. Add the fried paneer. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Thicken the sauce with cashew flour.

Adjust seasoning. The sauce should be slightly sweet (from the caramelized onions and tomatoes). Bring back to a full boil. Add the sour cream (if used, you could also add more heavy cream) and finish with the remaining lemon juice. Stir well.

In a small pan, melt the remaining ghee. As soon as the ghee is melted, add the paprika. Top the masala dish with the paprika-flavored butter.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You can make your own paneer or buy it at your local Indian market.

You could always substitute fried tofu for a healthier version.

Indian cuisine always calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Little reminder on how to make cashew flour: You can either buy ready-made finely ground cashews or make it yourself. Grind the roasted cashew nuts in a food processor or blender. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter.

You could replace cashew nuts with almonds.

You can use the same base for the sauce and make this dish with any meat.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 23, 2012.


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