Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Paneer Makhani: At Attempt

Paneer is perhaps my favorite food. It is the tart Indian cheese that magically does not melt when fried, and resembles a hearty, chewy tofu, but packed with delicious dairy flavor. At Banjara, my preferred Indian establishment just off Curry Row in Manhattan, they make an absolutely incredible dish called Paneer Makhani, a deep, beautiful red saffron sauce that I am always trying and always failing to replicate. At Haveli in Middletown, CT, the same dish was called Shaahi Paneer.

I buy paneer whenever it is available from the lesbian cheese farmers from Chapel Hill Creamery. It keeps a long time, slices well, and most importantly, fries up great.

Here's my most recent attempt at Paneer Makhani. I had recently bought some paneer from the market and found this recipe online with the help of Google.

Paneer Makhani
from Archana's Kitchen

2 cups paneer cubes/ 250 grams ready paneer packet or Home Made Paneer
2 cups freshly pureed tomatoes (choose red tomatoes)
¼ cup thick cream (can substitute with low fat milk)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 tablespoon kasuri methi (fenugreek)
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon Vegetable/Sunflower oil
Salt to taste

Grind the onions, garlic and ginger into a fine paste.

Heat oil in a pan; sauté the onion paste. Once they turn mild golden color, turmeric powder, cumin powder, cardamom powder and sauté for a few seconds.

Add the tomato puree and simmer until the tomato puree thickens. (I put mine all in the food processor at this point, just to make it as smooth as possible.)

Add cream, honey and salt and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add the paneer (I always fry mine up first) to the above makhani. Add kasuri methi and simmer for few minutes.

This version of the dish was good, though of course never as amazing as my Banjara and Haveli counterparts seem to make it. I think I would cut back a bit on the cardamom next time -- it was easy to pick it out as a stronger spice above all the others when eating it.

But really, could fried cheese ever be bad?

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