For a vegetarian, paneer (cottage cheese) is the equivalent of chicken, mutton, fish, prawns, shrimp, beef, pork, kangaroo, pigeon, and every other meat the contestants cook with in Masterchef Australia . May be, I need to stop arguing that vegetarians do have options.
This recipe is No Fail because it’s Meghana proof. I have tried it more than three times and I have not screwed up even once.You will need,
Paneer cut into rectangles or cubes or whatever shape you can manage
1 tbsp Oil (any flavorless oil would do and this is the most oil I put in any gravy, if you want more, you can add more)
1 clove, 1 small cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 1-2 cardamom pods
1 green chilly slit and cut into half
2-3 medium sized onions made into a fine paste
Ginger and Garlic paste or freshly and finely chopped ( I prefer finely chopped bits in the gravy)
1 medium sized Tomato made into puree
Red Chilly powder
Amchur (Dried Mango) powder
Jeera (Cumin) powder
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves finely chopped
1 tsp sugar (leave out if you like the gravy to be spicy)
How much of these powders you add to the dish depends entirely on you. I cant give you an exact measurement because I have never measured how much of powders I put in. My personal preference is – If I add in a spoon of chilly powder, I add in a spoon of garam masala as well. Then, I will add in half a spoon of amchur and jeera powder, then a quarter spoon of danya powder. Then, I will taste it again, and add a bit of what I think is missing at that point of time. I never add extra danya powder. (FYI)
Get your dry spices, tomato, green chilly, coriander, paneer, onions on to the counter. Peel onions and cut them into halves and make a paste.
In a kadai (wok) , make sure you have a lid as well, put in the oil and your dry spices. Skip if you don’t have any or one of the mentioned things. Put in the slit green chilly and the onion paste.
While the onion paste is cooking, add in the ginger-garlic bits/paste. If you want a mellow kind of gravy, add in the sugar now. The sugar will help the onions cook faster. (Myth or not? Comment) Roughly chop a tomato and put it in the same jar as you did with the onions and make a puree of it.
Let the onions cook for a bit, add in the tomato puree and close the lid and put back the things you don’t need anymore to their places in the kitchen. Put the peels and other stuff in the bin. Get all your powders to the counter.
By this time, your tomato-onion base should be bubbling. If it’s not, now is a good time to cut the paneer into cubes. Also put a handful of coriander leaves in bowl of water.
Once you feel, the tomato and onions have had enough time together, add in all the powders and salt to taste. Give it a good stir. Close the lid again.
Do a final taste test and if you feel something is missing, like if it needs more chilly powder, add it at this stage and pray that everything works out. Add in the paneer and close the lid again. Add water if needed.
Finely chop the coriander leaves and put it in the gravy. Clear your counter, give it a quick wipe down while the the paneer becomes friends with the gravy and imbibes its qualities.
Taste the gravy with the paneer and switch the stove off. Remove the kadai from the stove.
There you have it, in nine simple steps, you have paneer gravy and a clean kitchen. You can also try kneading the chapati dough in between steps. May be, I will teach that, oops, learn that some other time.
You can add capsicum to this.
This base works for channa (chickpeas) as well. Make sure it is pressure cooked well. If you don”t eat paneer, try tofu.
I think the cumin powder, green chilly, and amchur powder are what makes this dish taste good. Don’t skip them if you can.
If you don’t like tomato-ey taste, put only half of the tomato. Or if you don’t mind using ketchup, add in that.
If you can’t handle too much of spice, put less of chilly powder and add in a bit of sugar.
Like you can see, I am very concerned as to how this would turn out for you. Please don’t curse me if doesn’t work for you. This is one of the reasons why I don’t post recipes on my blog.This is the kind of recipe I would like to read. You can guess, I am not that bright. If my mother read this, she would probably doze off by step 3. If you are an experienced cook, my apologies.