Not since mid ’99 have I eaten the mouth-watering Paneer Musallam at Copper Chimney. However, during the past decade I have heard some close friends rave about it endlessly. Reminiscing not only their frequent meals at the restaurant which was right across from their home, but they also narrate tales about their bavarchi,  the ex-chef from the famous restaurant. Of course, their memories are from another era… eons ago!

I’ve never quite figured out how long the chef served this family, but I’m guessing it was long enough for the head of the household to learn the recipe, and to master it! Ever since, it seems this recipe has been well-guarded, has been passed on only to the fortunate few who have been privy to it since! The reason I’m blogging about Paneer from CC is because a short while back I came across Veggie Hound; he (who) nose good food. 😉

His review brought a smile to my face for more reasons than one… I’m thinking about how even the thought of paneer brings a smile to many a sullen face. I’m  also amused when I remember how some people are indeed so secretive about recipes; will it take away from their own glory if others learn as well? Or then, is it their trade secret? Perhaps so, if you’re in the business of restaurants! Or may be if you’re Head Lady of the Royal Kitchen like say in the Korean TV serial Dae Jung Geum (refer to episode #14), which I enjoyed thoroughly! 🙂 😉

Anyway, here’s my Paneer recipe I shared with a friend… and I’m happy to share it with you; I believe it turned out good… so here goes… and remember, this one has no onions, no garlic, ’cause I’m allergic to them… for you it simply means, no crying… just smiling and savoring this paneer laajavaab! 😉

Ingredients:

  • paneer (cottage cheese from frozen section at Indian grocery store) – 1 pack 400 gms
  • tomatoes – 2 large-ish if you want more gravy
  • green chillies – 6-10 depending on taste/spicy (or even 2 jalapenos)
  • ginger – 1″-2″ (better to increase spice through ginger)
  • green peas – optional – a fistful or little more
  • oil  –  2 tablespoons (or less, depending on how much you want)
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Jeeru (cumin seeds) – 1 teaspoon
  • Dhania powder (coriander/cilantro powder) – 1 tblspoon (optional)
  • Haldi (turmeric powder) – half teaspoon
  • lal marchu (red chilli powder) – half teaspoon
  • tejpatta (bay leaves) – a couple
  • salt – 1 teaspoon, or to taste
  • garam masala (a mixture of clove/cardamom/cinnamon/nutmeg/black pepper all roasted, powdered and mixed in specific proportions available readymade) – half teaspoon
  • corn starch – optional (I’ve used it a couple of times recently to thicken the gravy but usually yogurt only)
  • yogurt – half cup-to-one cup beaten/whipped
  • cilantro/kothmir/dhania leaves – for garnish
  • Sugar or Honey (I’ve used honey several times and it gives a different/better flavor)
  • Aamchur (powdered dried mango) – 1-2 tablespoons (or one limboo)
  • (Sometimes you could use cashews, heavy cream or sour cream to make a richer gravy, for a special occasion and/or add methi (fenugreek) leaves for variation like methi-paneer)

Method:

  • Dice/cube paneer, sautee in a little oil (I don’t deep fry; even the sauteeing only recently did a couple of times); keep aside
  • Tomatoes, ginger and green chillies – blend and keep aside
  • Vaghar/tadka/seasoning – heat the oil, add cumin seeds; when they crackle, add bay leaves, turmeric, red chilli powder, tomato puree (and dhania powder) and stir this for 3-4 minutes or until oil separates and all this reduces to half the quantity approximately; stir continuously on medium heat
  • add the beaten yogurt and stir occasionally for another 3-4 minutes; heat remains medium-low
  • add the cornstarch blended into yogurt whey (or 2-3 tablespoons of milk or water) to the above; this adds volume; thickens the gravy; stir
  • add garam masala, aamchur, honey and cilantro; stir well
  • add the sauteed paneer and the green peas; cook for a few more minutes
  • Great with paratha or naan; can also be served with rice

I can visualize my friends smiling and their mouths watering… if I tell them what’s cooking tonight!  🙂 😉

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