Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kadai Paneer

In our home paneer was not that regular. It was a specialty of eating out. Ma always made matar paneer and I think she made the best. Even my husband prefers the dhaba style paneer than their tandoori chicken. This year when we reached Kolkata, we halted in front of a dhaba on Delhi Road and ate diner there. The boy who took our order was merely 18...I am not sure, and he noted the dishes on a ragged piece of paper and often scratched his ears. He appeared sleepy and had swollen red eyes. It was midnight and most of the items were not available. However we were able to get some dishes of our choice. Then he went to the kitchen and came back with our meal within half an hour. It was almost midnight and I was terribly hungry. As I stroked my finger on my plate, wiping out the last drop of the leftover curry, that I was licking after I had finished up all my food, I looked around and tried to store every detail of the dhaba on my memory. I don't know why...but I wanted to remember the place. We had butter paneer masala, egg bhurji and sukha sabi with tandoori roti there...yummm!!! The memories are enough to make me salivate. Then again on our anniversary and my sister-in-laws anniversary we ordered food from dhabas. No matter how good the foods are in a five start resataurant, the rustic nature of the dhabas attracts me more.

kadai paneer - Indian Cottage cheese cooked in a spicy tangy curry recipe

The noise, the messy attire, the busy and informal waiters...all appears just beautiful to my eyes, because I don't have to look around and eat seriously there. I can wash my hands (sometimes I really forget that...I think that adds to the taste :p) and indulge myself by eating with hands..where the curry can be messy on my palms and fingers and some rusts of the parathas can dwindle around my lips. Eating should be comfortable and yes...noisy. I hate the idea of eating without making any noise and lips being closed. Its just too pathetic for me. I feel someone is punishing me.

How to cook kadai paneer

How to cook kadai paneer

Kadai Paneer is such a dhaba style dish. I don't know when I first ate that, but I have loved it from the first bite. Its very easy to make and takes very little time. I always store a bottle of kadai masala in home..and that comes handy and helpful when I crave for spicy and chatpata paneer dishes.

How to cook kadai paneer

Kadai Paneer
Serves 4

How to cook kadai paneer

  • 250gm paneer - cut into big chunky cubes
  • 1 and 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 large / 1 and 1/2 medium onion - sliced
  • 3 fat garlic cloves - paste
  • 1 inch ginger stick - paste
  • 1 capsicum - diced
  • 1/2 onion - diced
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp kadai masala (recipe follows)
  • 2 tbsp heavy creme
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander leaves - finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil / ghee
Kadai Masala:
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 5-6 back peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fenugreek leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chilies
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • Dry roast the ingredients under kadai masala and grind them to a fine powder. Keep them in a sealed container and use accordingly.
  • Heat oil / ghee in a kadai / pan and add the sliced onions. When they become golden add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the raw flavor is gone.
  • Now add the tomato puree, salt, red chili powder.
  • Cook until the tomatoes release its oil. 
  • Then take them in a blender with 2 tbsp kadai masala and make a fine paste.
  • Heat oil again in the same kadai and add the diced onion and capsicums. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and add the paste we made with onion and tomatoes.
  • Mix well. If the mixture tends to stick to the bottom of the pan add a little water, just to avoid the sticking. Do not add too much water or it will ruin the dish.
  • When the mixture starts to bubble add the garam masala powder, creme and cubed paneer into it and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Mix well so that the paneer cubes become well coated with the gravy.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • After 3-4 minutes add the chopped fresh coriander leaves and put cover. Let it stay like this for 5-7 minutes more and then serve hot with roti / chapati / paratha / naan.

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