Let’s take on Indian cuisine with this incredible paneer butter masala recipe. This is probably one of my favorite recipes to make at home because during and after the cooking process, your kitchen, or your entire flat, will be filled with a warm and gorgeous aroma resulting from the toasted garam masala— one of the main ingredients of the dish.
What Is Garam Masala?
Garam masala, or masala powder, is a blend of ground spices and is frequently used in Indian cuisine. You can purchase the spice blend in any Asian or Indian market, or you can make it at home as well. The method is simple: gather a few whole spices, toast them on a dry pan, and then ground them into fine powder in a pestle and mortar, or a blender.
A common blend of garam masala consists of black peppercorns, whole cloves, mace— the outer part of nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, cumin, and coriander seeds. All these spices combined will create a warm aroma and subtle heat that is believed to increase your body temperature, which is why it is also considered to have medicinal benefits such as cold remedies.
Garam masala is used as a seasoning in many Indian dishes, including tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala. Not only is it used in savory dishes, but it also plays a key role in the infamous masala chai— a type of Indian milk tea that is always served warm.
For today’s recipe, we will be using garam masala along with a few more spices to intensify the flavor of our paneer butter masala.
What Is Paneer?
Many of you might be curious and wondering what paneer was from the moment you saw the title of this article.
For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, paneer is a type of fresh cheese that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. Like any fresh cheese, paneer is unaged, giving it a nice, soft texture. As for the flavor, it tastes like milk with a subtle tanginess as a result of the food acid that is used to make the cheese such as lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or even yogurt. The acid is what causes the milk to curdle and separate into cheese curds and whey. The cheesemakers then drain the curds from the whey and press the cheese into molds to form their shape and remove excess moisture. The end result is beautiful cubes of cheese that look and taste like enriched milk.
Paneer makes its way into the hearts and stomachs of many Indian people with its appearance in a variety of dishes such as paneer tikka masala (a vegetarian version of chicken tikka masala), palak paneer (cheese and spinach), and of course, paneer butter masala. So, without further ado, here is today’s recipe. Enjoy!
Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 250 g paneer cubes
- 3 red chilies
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 2 cardamom seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons cashew nuts chopped
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 onion roughly diced
- 6 to matoes roughly diced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Salt to taste
How to make
- Use a large pan to heat a tablespoon each of butter and oil on medium heat.
- Add red chillies, ginger, garlic paste and all the spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns). Toast for approximately two minutes. Then add cashew nuts, poppy seeds, and onions.
- Once onions become translucent, add tomatoes and stir well.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the tomatoes begin to disintegrate and oil starts to separate and appear on the edges of the mixture. Take off the heat and leave it to cool.
- Once cool, take out as much of the whole spices as possible and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
- Using the same pan, heat up the remaining butter and add the blended paste in, along with garam masala powder, chili powder, turmeric, ketchup, salt and half a cup of water. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the oil separates on the top or around the edges.
- Cut paneer cheese into bite-size chunks, add it to the pan and stir gently.
- Add fresh cream to the curry. Turn off the heat and serve warm.