PREP TIME: 10 Minutes
COOKING TIME: 25 Minutes
Now that we are practicing social distancing, the privilege of eating out has become impossible. We are craving for dishes on the restaurant menu. So, I have been trying at least 2 new recipes every week. Before the quarantine, the only elaborate meal used to be dinner (mostly Idli, dosa, chapathi or the max would be noodles or pasta). Making dinner would be more like a chore after a long day at work. Now that there are no time constraints and with everyone at home, the ability to try out new, non-routine recipes is super exciting. Even though it is more work, I enjoy cooking as I feel it to be therapeutic (and of course the appreciation from family members is more brownie points 😊 and keeps me motivated)
This week I made 2 paneer dishes as we got a large pack of paneer from Costco before the lockdown and wanted to use it all up before it goes bad.
Paneer – 350 Grams
Onion – 2 cubed
Tomato – 1 roughly chopped
Bell Pepper – 1 cubed (I used Green but colored bell peppers should be okay too)
Garlic – 3 cloves
Ginger – 1/2-inch piece
Cashews – 10
Garam Masala Powder – ½ teaspoon (Store bought “Super garam masala”)
Garam Masala powder (optional – preparation process in step 1) – ½ teaspoon
Plain dry red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
Turmeric Powder – ¼ teaspoon
Sugar – ½ teaspoon
Salt – As required
Kasoori Meethi – 1/4 teaspoon
Olive oil – 2 teaspoons
Butter – 1 teaspoon
Homemade garam masala powder recipe (my version of garam masala for kadaai paneer)
STEP 1: Dry roast 1/2 teaspoon each of peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds + 1 large bay leaf, 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick & 3 dry red chillies. This is an optional step so you could skip this process by just increasing the regular garam masala quantity to 1 teaspoon.
STEP 2: Cut the onions into cubes and separate the pieces as shown in the picture. Heat oil in a pan and add half the quantity of cut onion and cook till the onions turn translucent.
STEP 3: Add the cubed bell peppers and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on high heat. The bell peppers should still be crunchy. Transfer the onion and bell peppers to a plate.
STEP 4: In the left-over oil from cooking onion and bell pepper, add in the cubed paneer and fry for 5 minutes. Do not overcook as the paneer will turn chewy. This step can be skipped, and the paneer can be added directly to the gravy. I like it this way so fried the paneer in oil.
STEP 5: Add oil, cubed onion, chopped tomato, ginger, garlic and cashews and cook till the onion and tomato turns mushy and the oils starts to separate from the masala.
STEP 6: Add in the garam masala powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, sugar and salt. Cook on low heat till the raw flavours of the spice powders is completely gone. Let the mixture cool down and make a fine paste using a blender.
STEP 7: Once the masala is ready, add butter in a pan and pour in the masala paste with one 250 ml of water.
STEP 8: Once the gravy comes to a boil add in the fried onion, bell pepper and paneer. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. The gravy does not have to cook for too long as the masala is already well cooked.
STEP 9: Add some crushed kasoori meethi, saffron strands and broken cashews on top (for the aroma, color and the nutty crunch) and serve.
Tip: Garnish with fresh cream on top for restaurant style plating/serving.