Paneer Tikka Masala Recipe
Paneer is an essential component of Indian cuisine, especially in North Indian or Punjabi dishes. It is a mild cheese made usually from whole milk, similar to a Farmer’s cheese. It has a firm texture and is a non-melting cheese that can withstand prolonged cooking times and still have the ability to retain its shape, texture and flavor.
Home made paneer has a wonderful fresh taste and is also easy to make but store bought paneer is just as good and is easily available in any Indian grocery store. You can also substitute firm ricotta cheese or extra firm tofu as well. Feel free to use organic milk and make your own home made organic paneer.
PANEER TIKKA MASALA
3-4 cups of paneer cubes, pan fried until golden brown
1 large onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ tbsp Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), gently crushed with your palms
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup tomato puree (about 3-4 plum tomatoes)
½ cup yogurt (or cream)
2 tbsp ghee, butter or vegetable oil
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large deep pot (a Dutch oven works great) on medium high heat, add the ghee. When hot, add the onions and sauté until lightly browned. Then add the garlic along with the ginger & green chilies. Sauté for a few more minutes until aromatic & fragrant, then add the spices (turmeric, red chili powder, ground cumin powder, paprika, ground coriander powder, garam masala, Kasoori methi, salt & pepper). Let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste & tomato puree (along with about ½ cup or so of water, if needed). This dish usually has a thick rich curry but you can as much or as little water as you like. Mix well to combine, cover, reduce the heat to simmer & let cook for about 5 minutes. Next, add in the paneer pieces to the curry & let them warm through for a few minutes. Now remove from the heat & allow the curry to cool for about 5 minutes before adding in the yogurt so it won’t curdle. Garnish with the cilantro leave and serve with fresh naans & fragrant jeera pulao (cumin scented rice).
You could add your favorite vegetables to this dish such as green bell peppers, mushrooms, cherry/grape tomatoes, baby corn, cauliflower florets, zucchini pieces, green peas… If you decide to add vegetables to this dish, simply reduce the amount of paneer ☺.
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