This is a no onion, no garlic version of paneer butter masala that is not only easy to prepare but also gives you a restaurant style paneer butter masala at home.
I have always thought of paneer butter masala, in which the gravy is to be rich in spices and where the gravy is thickened by onion paste along with the cashew nut paste and that is how I have always done it as well. As it was very much liked by the family and guests, I had no reason to look further.
Recently when my friend J’s parents came to visit her and I always pay them a visit when they are in town. Having travelled widely, they both are very knowledgeable about food and its always a delight to talk about various cuisines cooked across the country and I always lose track of time when talking to them. On that day she had made this paneer butter masala and I was surprised. It was the period of Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri and she not only fasts but also never uses onion and garlic while cooking during this period.
In fact, I came to know there is one more Navratri that is celebrated in the country only through her a few years back. When I tasted the gravy, it was simply yummy. I did not miss the whole spices, the onion, garlic at all and still taste wise it did not lack the creamy goodness of a restaurant style paneer butter masala. For a person like me who is so used to thinking and cooking with all these ingredients, it was a real surprise.
If not for the paneer it could have totally been a vegan dish, as she had not used oil to cook, keeping both their age in consideration and the garam masala powder. But I have made a few changes as I prepared it for the kids to whom the calories are not a constraint.
Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 45 mins | Serves: 4
Recipe Cuisine: Indian | Recipe Category: Side Dish
- Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 250 gms
- Tomato, medium – 5
- Green chilies – 4
- Ginger – 1 inch piece
- Bay leaf – 1
- Coriander powder – 3 tsp
- Red chili powder – 2 tsp
- Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
- Cashew Nuts – 10 to 12
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Kasuri methi – 1/2 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Butter – 2 tbsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Soak cashew nuts in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 to 15 mins and grind to a smooth paste and keep aside.
- Cut the tomatoes roughly and transfer to a blender. Grind to a smooth paste and keep it aside. I did not blanch the tomatoes.
- Slit the green chilies lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the ginger into juliennes. Keep aside a few juliennes for garnishing.
- Cube the paneer and keep it ready. I used Malai Paneer, so I did not sauté the cubes in butter and used it as it is.
- Heat a pan with butter and oil together. Add slit green chilies and sauté till the color changes and becomes transparent. Add the ginger juliennes and sauté for a few more seconds.
- Add the tomato puree, sugar, a pinch of salt and mix well. Close the pan with a lid, leaving a small gap and let the puree cook over medium-low flame for 15-20 mins. This will prevent the puree from splashing out of pan. Mix in between at regular intervals. All the water moisture would have evaporated and the puree will look almost like a thick paste now.
- Add coriander powder, red chili powder, mix well and cook for 2 more mins. The mixture will further thicken and look almost dry.
- Add the ground cashew nut paste, mix well and cook for 5 mins.
- Add cubed paneer, milk, mix well and let it cook for 5 mins. Switch off flame and take off stove.
- Immediately add garam masala powder, kasuri methi, mix well and close the pan with a lid and let it rest for 5 mins for the flavors to merge well.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with ginger juliennes. Serve with hot phulkas, rotis or Naans along with sliced onions and lemon.
- Take time to cook the tomato puree well, else you will get the raw smell and taste of tomatoes in the gravy. Do not add water to the tomato puree to cook it.
- Always add garam masala powder at the end to retain its freshness and flavor.
- Using butter and oil together will prevent the butter from becoming ghee quickly while cooking it.
- I always rinse the mixie jar with either milk or water after grinding cashew nuts and use the same in the gravy.
- Do not use standard variety of tomato for this gravy as it will give a tangy taste. Use hybrid variety of tomato and very ripe ones to get natural color.
- Sugar is added to maintain the rich deep color of the tomato in the gravy. You can skip it if you don’t like it.
- Adjust the red chili powder and green chilies according to your spice level.
Labels: Gluten Free, North Indian Cuisine, Paneer Recipes, Side Dishes - Chappatis / Rotis