Saturday, September 27, 2014

Simple Paneer Tikka Masala

One day quite a few weeks ago, I decided to do something with the paneer I bought a few weeks before that at the Indian market. I'm a fan of tikka masalas, so I thought I would try my hand at Paneer Tikka Masala. I decided to go with this one from Swasthi's Recipes that she adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor and I was super impressed with the results, if I do say so myself. Apart from ordering Indian takeout, this is sure to satisfy any Indian food fix. I know the pics look messy and not terribly appetizing, but just trust me when I say you have to give this a try.

I've toned down the spice level quite a bit for my taste, but you can of course season it to your taste. The recipe is a bit more involved, but less so than traditional tikka masalas. Although this recipe is for paneer, I could easily see it being used for chicken, beef, and other hearty vegetables. As with most curries and stews, I found it to taste best the day and days after it was made. Serve it with rice, naan or chapati, some veggies and you've got one fantastic meal.

Simple Paneer Tikka Masala
Adapted from Swasthi's Recipes

Paneer and Veggies
15 oz paneer, cubed
1 cup thick yogurt, greek or plain yogurt that's been strained
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 cups cubed bell pepper/onion

Mix all the ingredients above except for the bell pepper/onion and marinate in the fridge overnight or longer.

When ready to prepare the tikka masala, preheat your oven to 400 deg F or heat a frying pan over medium heat with some oil. If cooking in the oven, place the paneer cubes on a lined baking sheet, spray with some oil, and bake for about 20 min, turning halfway. If cooking over the stove, pan fry the paneer for a few minutes on each side. While the paneer is cooking, add the bell pepper/onion to the leftover marinade. When the paneer is done, set aside and either bake the veggies for about 5-10 min or pan fry for a few minutes. Next, make the sauce/gravy.

1 cup chopped tomatoes
about 25 roasted cashews
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
6 green cardamon
a few peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
10 cloves
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup water
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves(kasuri methi)
1/3 cup milk, cream, or a large dollop of yogurt
oil or butter
salt, to taste

Blend the tomatoes and cashews in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add a few tbsp. of oil and add the spices(cumin seeds, cardamon, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves). Toast the spices for a few minutes until they become fragrant. Add in the chopped onion and sauté until it begins to turn golden brown.

Add the ginger garlic paste, sauté for another minute. Then add the tomato puree and chili powder, cooking for another 5 minutes until you see the oil begin to separate from the mixture. Add the water, garam masala, and fenugreek leaves. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it cook for another 5 minutes or so until it has thickened to your liking. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Add the cooked paneer cubes to the sauce, simmering for a few minutes before adding the veggies. Simmer for another minute, then add your choice of milk, cream, or yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with rice, naan, or chapati.

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