I am sharing with you my delicious but simple recipe for Butter Paneer or Paneer Makhani as some of us know it. From what I have researched Butter Paneer is cooked with minimal spice and it really is an easy dish to cook. I made my own Paneer so that took a bit of time but if you use store-bought paneer it really is a quick dish to prepare.
What is Butter Paneer or Paneer Makhani
I don’t understand many Indian languages, I am from a telegu speaking home so it’s the only Indian language I can understand well but any other Indian language is foreign to me so I had to quickly find out what the word Makhani means.
It means “buttery”. From my little research I also discovered that this sauce originated in the 1950’s when Punjabis invented the sauce by mixing fresh butter into a tomato-based gravy. I bet the Punjabis didn’t think their invention was going to be as popular as it is today.
Cooking the Curry ahead of serving time
Curries can be cooked in advance and most often tastes even better. However, I do find that with paneer dishes it doesn’t really work that well. The paneer does absorb a lot of the sauce therefore if it does stand for a long time there won’t be much sauce when serving.
Therefore if I am making a Butter Paneer and not serving it immediately, I cook the sauce but I do not add the paneer to the sauce. I add the paneer during serving time and re-heat the sauce and add the paneer.
I love using freshly roasted spices in my cooking. I usually roast and grind my spices in a coffee grinder. The coffee grinder is perfect for small batches of spice. So for this dish I used my own homemade Garam Masala.
The store-bought ground spices doesn’t have much aroma and feels really stale and flavorless. Roasting and grinding your own spices may be a little bit of extra work but it is so worth the effort. Ever since I’ve started using freshly ground spices I’ve never looked back, I could never go back to buying store-bought ground spices.
One positive thing about this dish is that you don’t need loads of spice. Minimal spice doesn’t mean minimal flavor, it is still so rich and flavor-filled. Therefore I don’t recommend you make this dish too often.
- 300 gram paneer
- 6 roma tomatoes blanched and blended
- 2 tbsp butter or butter ghee
- 10 cashew nuts soaked in warm water
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 small bay leaf
- 2 pieces cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 1&1/2 tspn ginger/garlic paste
- 1 green chilli
- 2 tspn kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp ground elachie
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tspn turmeric
- 1/3 cup fresh cream
- 1&1/2 tsp dried methi leaves
- 2-3 tsp sugar if required
- Heat the butter ghee in a pot. If using butter add a few drops of oil to prevent burning. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves to the pot and fry for about a minute, until fragrant.
- Add the cashew nuts onion and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chilli powder,cardamom powder and turmeric. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and cook for about 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are cooked and sauce has slightly thickened. The ghee with surface to the top
- Allow the sauce to cool down a bit. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves and blend the sauce until smooth. Place the sauce back in the pot and season with salt and add some sugar, according to taste.
- Add the fresh cream, you can add more or less depending on your taste. Add the paneer, dried methi leaves and garam masala and heat through.
- Garnish with fresh coriander and serve
- Once the tomatoes are pureed it makes about 2 cups. You can use passata as a replacement for the fresh tomatoes
- You can adjust the sugar according to your preference. This dish is always sweeter when eaten at restaurants so my kids prefer this dish a little on the sweet side
- The cashew nuts can be replaced with almonds. You can also totally omit the nuts, it won't impact the flavor that much