A True Crowd Pleaser: Paneer Makhni

Simply translated – “paneer” is “cottage cheese” and “makhni” is “made of butter or buttery”.  So it’s as sinful and delicious, as the name. Cottage cheese in rich tomato gravy, with indulgent amount of butter, traditionally.
By Anamika Arun

Paneer Makhni 2

The beautiful garden of the resort was glistening with the golden lighting. The drinks were getting mixed flamboyantly, the pretty ladies were elegantly showing off their solitaires and the music was trying to find its audience. As the party was getting warmed up, the sublime quietness couldn’t be mistaken.

At that very precise moment, she entered. Dressed to kill, in that bold yet so sophisticated red dress. The white stilettos, added not just height, but lot of grace and poise to the demure beauty. Many pairs of eyes turned quickly to greet, while others preferred to show ignorance; while making a mental note to know her in person. She walked across the length of the room, in that confident gait, which only a self assured one can possess. She stopped, right in front of the hosts. Soon there were warm hugs, cheerful greetings and “that” laughter. The full throttled one. As if someone just popped open a bottle of champagne. The camaraderie attracted all the friendly souls. And soon the casual banter, the jokes broke the ice. Her charisma and warmth worked as the spark, that brightened the whole atmosphere.

The music became racier, the dance floor became busier and the chatter became louder. The party has just begin. Such was the power of that effervescent crowd pleaser!!

Paneer Makhni 4

This dish has the same impact. Can brighten the simplest of the menu. Can intermingle with different varieties of dishes. Can cater to a wide variety of taste buds. Yet stand deliciously, on its own. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

Simply translated – “paneer” is “cottage cheese” and “makhni or makhani” is “made of butter or buttery”.  So its as sinful, as the name. Cottage cheese in rich tomato gravy, with indulgent amount of butter, traditionally. Reduced here, to keep us all fitted in that gorgeous “little black dress” and “tuxedos”. Amen!

Paneer Makhni 1

A True Crowd Pleaser: Paneer Makhni
 
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Ingredients
  • 200 grams paneer (cottage cheese). See note*
  • 3-4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cashews, soaked in little water
  • 2-3 tbsp butter. See note*
  • 1 tbsp ginger- garlic paste. See note*
  • Some whole spices – 1 bay leaf, 2 cardamom, 2 cloves, ½” cinnamon
  • ½ – 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ garam masala powder
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • ½ tbsp tomato paste
  • salt & black pepper, as required
For garnishing
  • 1 tbsp fresh cream
  • Ginger, finely chopped or coriander, chopped
Instructions
  1. Wash and chop tomatoes. Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Also grind cashews with very little water, to a smooth paste.
  2. If using frozen paneer, defrost and keep in warm water, till used. Even fresh paneer, should be kept in warm water, to soften it.
  3. Heat a wok. Add butter and as it melts, add the aromatic spices. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute.
  4. Then add the tomato puree. Add salt, sugar, red chilly powder and coriander powder. Keep flame on medium heat, and let it cook well, till it thickens like a sauce. Stir in between
  5. After about 15 mins, add tomato paste. Stir. Then add about a cup of water
  6. Now add the cashew paste. Cook for another 2-3 mins. Add black pepper, garam masala and crushed kasturi methi. Check seasoning.
  7. When the desired consistency of gravy is achieved, remove paneer cubes from warm water, and add to gravy. Finish off a with a dollop of fresh cream
  8. Garnish with green chillies/ginger or chopped coriander leaves and serve warm, with Indian bread or rice.
Notes
Butter gives the dish its unique taste. Substituting with oil will effect the taste quite a bit.
Always keep paneer in warm water, to retain softness. I simply microwave frozen paneer cubes in water for 3-4 mins.
Kasturi methi imparts an earthy flavour to the dish and is highly recommended
You can remove the whole spices, before serving the dish
You can also use little milk to adjust consistency, if not using cream. But cream will make it real “restaurant style”
Some people like this gravy sweet, some mildly spicy. So adjust the spice level according to your taste. And usage of sugar to cut the tartness of tomatoes.


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