Are you enjoying fall yet? For me one of the best parts about this time of the year is that the Indian festive season reaches its sparkly zenith in fall. Navratri, Dassehra and then Diwali!
I’m sure many of you have been blasted with Diwali-related posts in the last few weeks, so I won’t make this another post about Diwali. Instead I will talk about this crowd pleaser curry that was part of our Diwali lunch this year…
As a little kid, I was never very fond of paneer. My mom would make paneer from milk that was about to go bad, by adding lemon juice and it would always result in a weird slimy textured, yet crumbly mess.
I would refuse to taste it even in restaurants, wanting no part of the weirdness. Then one day we went to this locally renowned restaurant with my aunt and cousins and she ordered a dish, which I tasted without knowing what it was.
And totally loved it! Smoky, melt in your mouth cubes (of something!) in a velvety, creamy, fragrant tomato sauce… Only too late, I found out the cubes were paneer… Paneer, the way it is supposed to be.
I was in love! So my awesome mom learnt how to make the most wonderful paneer at home from some of our north-Indian neighbours. A skill which she also passed on to my husband, who is now the official paneer-maker at casa Spice in the City 😀 If you want to learn how to easily make the creamiest, softest paneer, which still stays in shape in any curry, check out his recipe here.
About this gorgeous Paneer Tikka Masala: Large cubes of Paneer are marinated in yogurt and spices, skewered and then grilled over a barbecue or in the oven or even pan-fried. The same principle as Chicken Tikka. The tikkas are then added to a flavorful tomato sauce. The recipe is very similar to butter chicken. No wonder that Paneer Tikka Masala is the beloved vegetarian substitute for butter chicken in India
I am gonna be fashionably late at Angie’s Friday Fiesta this week, but hope this fabulous curry makes up for the tardiness. Do join me and this week’s co-hosts Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @Birgerbird and meet the amazing bloggers who come together at this awesome soiree each week 😀
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Paneer Tikka Masala
- 250 to 300 grams paneer, cut into large cubes or squares
- 1 medium green/red/yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium onion, quartered and the layers separated
- 6 tablespoons thick Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Tandoori Masala (substitute with Garam Masala if not available)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon chickpeas Flour (Besan)
- 1 teaspoon oil for brushing
- ½ tsp salt or as per taste
- 1 large pinch Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 medium Red Onions, peeled and halved
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 10-12 Cashew nuts
- 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
- 2 tablespoon thick Yogurt, whisked till smooth
- 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala powder
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 large pinch Kasoori Methi
- 2 tablespoon heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoon Oil or Butter
- 3-4 sprigs Cilantro
- Salt as per taste
- Whisk the yogurt till smooth in a large bowl.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, spice powders, kasoori methi, chickpeas flour and salt. Mix well.
- Add the paneer cubes, onion and bell pepper pieces.
- Gently mix again so that the marinade coats the paneer, onions and bell peppers evenly.
- Cover the bowl & marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Line a baking tray or pan with aluminum foil.
- Thread the paneer cubes on a bamboo or metal skewers, alternating with the onion and bell pepper pieces.
- Place the skewers on the prepared pan.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C for at least 10 minutes before you grill the tikkas.
- Brush about ½ teaspoon oil evenly on the paneer, onion and bell pepper cubes.
- Grill the skewers in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or till the pieces are browned at the edges.
- You can also pan fry the tikka if desired.
- Boil a cup of water in a large pan with a pinch of salt.
- Add halved onions and tomatoes to the boiling water.
- cook for one or two minutes. Switch off the heat. Add cashew nuts to the water. Cover and keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain and chop the onions and tomatoes roughly.
- Make a smooth fine paste of the onions in a grinder or blender. Keep aside.
- Similarly make a smooth puree of the tomatoes in the grinder or blender.
- Make a paste of the blanched cashew nuts too.
- Keep aside the 3 pastes.
- whisk or beat the yogurt till smooth and keep aside.
- In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoon oil and then add the onion paste.
- stir often and saute till the onions paste turns golden.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell of ginger and garlic goes away.
- Add the tomato puree. stir well and saute till you see fat leaving sides of the masala.
- Now add all the dry spice powders - turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala/tandoori masala.
- stir well so that the spices are incorporated in the masala paste evenly.
- Now remove the pan from the heat and add the beaten yogurt. Removing the pan from heat will prevent the yogurt from curdling.
- stir well. Add ½ cup water and salt. stir again.
- simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or till the gravy thickens and you see fat floating on the top.
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy as desired by adding more or less water.
- Add the cashew paste, cream and kasoori methi.
- stir well and simmer on a low flame for a minute. check the taste and add more salt or cream if you prefer.
- You can also about ½ to 1 teaspoon Sugar for a light sweet taste.
- Then add the paneer tikka along with the grilled onions and bell peppers. stir again and switch off the flame.
- Garnish with Cilantro & serve with flat breads or rice.
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