Paneer butter masala is a fairly old recipe that has been prepared with a number of subtle variations by different cooks. The version that I am going to write about here is my own version – it maybe tweaked as you see fit. This easily serves two people.
> Paneer – 200g
> Butter – 3 teaspoons
> Vegetable Oil – 1 tablespoon
> Garam Masala – a pinch
> Rajma/Chole Masala – a pinch
> Amul Fresh Cream – half packet
> Tomatoes – 2, medium sized
> Garlic – 6-8 cloves, medium sized
> Ginger – a piece as big as 2 medium sized garlic cloves
> Onion – 1, large
> Green Peas – 8 pods
> Potatoes – 1, medium sized
> Cashews – 6
> Almonds – 4
> Salt – as required
> Sugar – 2.5 teaspoons
> Water – as required
STEPS TO PREPARE:
1) Grind the 2 tomatoes to puree in a mixer-grinder and store in a bowl.
2) Grind the onion, garlic cloves and ginger in the mixer-grinder as well and store in another bowl. Preferable to keep it covered to minimize loss of moisture and aroma.
3) Unpeel the peas and wash them once.
4) Break the cashews and almonds into half each.
5) Slice the potato into 4 pieces and boil it in a pressure cooker. 5 whistles should be sufficient. Also, take the peas and steam them along with the potatoes. How you do this is put the peas in a small bowl and put it inside the pressure cooker. Make sure you don’t put any water in that bowl – boiling it is not required; steaming is enough. Remember – 5 whistles. Anymore and the peas will melt 🙂
6) If the paneer is soft and fresh then now you can go ahead and cut it into small pieces as per your convenience. Otherwise, if you feel that it’s a bit tough for your taste, then just boil it for about 5 mins in a saucepan on a high flame – it will make the paneer tender, trust me. After this you can go ahead and cut it.
7) Take the boiled potato slices and cut them into small pieces as well.
8) Now melt the butter in a kadhai – make sure the flame is low. Fry the almonds and cashews until they become brown. Drain the butter from them before taking them out and putting them aside.
9) In the same kadhai now put in the sliced potatoes, paneer and the peas. Fry them till the paneer and potatoes become brown. You can fry them a bit thoroughly or just enough so that they are brown and lose the moisture content – your choice. Put them aside in a bowl once the frying is done.
10) Now put in the vegetable oil into the kadhai and fry the onion-garlic-ginger paste. Fry them till they lose their moisture and turn brown. Put in the garam masala at this stage and fry them for a while till the masala has mixed well into the mixture. Add the previously fried paneer-peas-potatoes into this as well before adding the masala.
11) Once the above step is done, put in the tomato puree and cream into the kadhai. Mix it well till the whole composition is homogeneous.
12) Now put in the rajma/chole masala and mix it well. Let the mixture simmer for sometime.
13) After this put in about 1.5 – 2 glasses of water into the kadhai. Again keep stirring till the composition is uniform.
14) Add the sugar and continue stirring. Add the salt too.
15) Now, depending on how thick you want it to be, you can let this mixture sit and boil. It is preferable to let it boil for atleast 10 mins on a low flame.
16) That’s it! You’re done. Don’t forget to switch off the gas.
Having tasted the paneer butter masala that is made at restaurants, a couple of times, I had a skeletal idea of how to put this dish together. I actually started out by making a list of ingredients and then tried to figure out a way of putting them together one after the other. Was actually checking off each of the ingredients at the points they were being used in the recipe. I think it came out fairly well in the end. The sugar adds a kind of sweetness to the dish but it sits really well – infact I prefer it this way. Another thing you would notice is that I haven’t used all butter in the recipe. This of course depends on how you wish to have it. But I can tell you this much that three teaspoons of butter is actually sufficient to give it that buttery flavor. The remaining show can be run by the vegetable oil. As you can observe, the entire cooking takes place in the same vessel – this ensures that all the butter that you use goes inside the ingredients. This shouldn’t be too difficult to make. The only chokepoint I have noticed with this recipe is the addition of masalas at the right time in the right quantity – too much or too little and you will be left with a dish that will be leaning more towards one side as far as the flavour is concerned. I do admit that this dish is a bit rich – not too good for health yes? Butter, cream and oil. But still it’s ok once in a while I think 🙂 I wondered if you get any masala specially for making paneer dishes… As I couldn’t find any I used Rajma masala. Had garnishing in mind too but coriander didn’t seem to be a good option. Perhaps onion fried to crisp maybe sprinkled on the top as garnishing. Do let me know what you think would be good garnishing for this dish. The other vegetables – potatoes and peas maybe discarded/substituted by other vegetables if you wish. One more thing – when it comes to masalas atleast in South India, I believe ‘Eastern’ rules the roost. I’d give first preference to this brand over any other brands, especially when it comes to a dish like this. Oh yes by the way, did you know that paneer is also known as ‘Indian Cottage Cheese’?