Paneer Makhanwala

“Makhanwala” is a tangy, tomato-based gravy cooked with butter and cream. You can add chicken, vegetables or paneer to this rich and creamy sauce depending upon your preference. However, what’s great about this particular recipe is that it has no butter or cream, making it a healthier option than the traditional recipe without compromising on flavor. It includes loads of healthy veggies like carrots,tomatoes, green capsicum and onions as well. The veggies are cooked and pureed and thus disguised making it a tasty option for kids otherwise averse to eating their vegetables. The credit for this recipe goes to my mom-in-law. After  having tried this, I have to call her a genius.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion- sliced
  • 1/2 green capsicum chopped
  • 2 – 3 small tomatoes chopped
  • 1 big carrot peeled and chopped
  • 4- 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 green chilly chopped ( slit in half, remove the seeds and chop)
  • 2 dried Kashmiri red chillies ( cut the stem and remove all the seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf “Tej Patha”
  • 2 tablespoons  dried fenugreek “Kasuri Methi”-roasted on a dry pan
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2 % milk)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons “Rajah Tandoori masala”
  • 400 grams paneer cut in cubes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro for garnish

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a vessel. Add onions and fry on medium high heat till they turn light pink. This should take about 6-7 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and fry for another 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, capsicum, carrot, green chilly, Kashmiri chillies, and turmeric. Add salt and enough water to let it cook(about 2 cups water). Boil for 15-20 minutes on medium high heat. After the vegetables are cooked, switch the gas off and let it cool. Now grind this mixture in a blender until smooth. Keep this mixture aside.

{Note: Before grinding the whole mixture, I take out 1 kashmiri red chilly,  grind the mixture and taste. If you like it spicier, then add the boiled red chilly and grind  again with the rest. This way, it is easy to control the spice level.}

In a dry pan or vessel, add the Kasuri methi and roast on medium flame for 1 minute. Keep aside.

Watch carefully as it can burn easily.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a vessel. Add the bay leaf, and the pureed  vegetable mixture. Then (by hand) crush the roasted Kasuri methi into the mixture. Add tandoori masala, sugar and salt to taste and let it cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Reduce to low flame and add milk, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cubed Paneer and remove from heat.

Transfer into an oven proof dish and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, uncovered. This helps the paneer to soften. (I don’t like to fry the paneer, I have tried this method and it really softens it). Serve hot with chappatis (Indian whole wheat bread).

Paneer in the US tends to be tough as it is bought from the frozen section of the grocery store. I thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and after it’s cooked, bake it at 375 , uncovered for 20 minutes, turns out soft and delicious!

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