Panneer Butter Masala conjures up this image of a rich butter based gravy with equally rich chunks of paneer or Indian cottage cheese and heavy whipping cream as garnish. Healthy paneer butter masala does sound like an oxymoron.
I use the word healthy to describe this recipe from Girish as it doen’t call for an ounce of butter or ghee (clarified butter). It uses cashew paste as the base for the gravy and, yes, more importantly, does not use any whipping cream. The best part is that you don’t compromise on the taste at all. You still get a creamy, yummy paneer “butter” masala, without the butter. Girish made this over the last long weekend and it was the perfect accompaniment to hot chapathis and stuffed bitter melon (bharwan karela). This recipe is inspired from the Sanjeev Kapoor version though it has been tweaked enough to call it an original Girish version:)
Cottage cheese (paneer), cut into cup – 2 cups
Oil – 3 tbsp
Cloves – 3
Cinnamon – 1 stick
Dried red chillies – 5 (if you want it to be less spicy, use fewer)
Coriander seeds, crushed – 4 tablespoons
Green cardamom seeds – 1/2 tsp
Onion , sliced – 1 medium
Fresh Ginger sliced into 1″ strips – 3-5
Garlic – 4 pods
Tomatoes, chopped – 5-6 medium
Cashews – 1 cup
Salt to taste
Kasoori methi , crushed (dried fenugreek)- 2 teaspoon
1. Grind the cardamom seeds, red chilies and coriander seeds to a fine dry powder.
2. Take 2 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom vessel (kadai), add cloves, cinnamon stick. When this gets heated and gives out an aroma, add garlic and ginger strips.
3. When this cooks, add sliced onions, and saute till the raw smell goes away, and it becomes light pink in color.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook well till the oil separates.
5. In the meanwhile, take the cashews in a blender and blend it to fine paste with some water. If you have a powerful blender (like a Vitamix), you may not need to add water.
6. Cool the onion tomato mixture a little and transfer this mixture to the blender containing the cashew paste. Make a fine puree of the tomatoes, onions and cashews.
7. Take the remaining oil in a kadai again, add some of the kasuri methi and add the paneer pieces. Fry till the paneer is slightly golden brown, not too fried.
8. Take out the paneer and keep it separately.
9. Add the tomato taste and cook while stirring, till the paste begins to boil, and the raw taste of cashews goes away. Add the red chili, coriander, cardamom powder here, and mix well.
10. Heat for a few minutes more, add the paneer and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.