November 2016: Easy Peasy Paneer Butter Masala – Cheat Recipe
You all will laugh and perhaps even look down upon me when you read how I had made this Paneer Butter Masala. But this turned out so much like the real deal, that it would have been plain selfish of me if I didn’t share the recipe. So ahem, here I go! I used store-bought pizza sauce instead of fresh tomatoes. But before all of you nothing short of amazing, purist ‘make-it-from-scratch ‘people who will never give in to temptation and go the semi-homemade way, roll your eyes at me… please first hear me out. What is pizza (pasta) sauce but a bunch of tomatoes pulverized along with a handful of herbs to make a smooth purée. And tomato purée with a bunch of different herbs/spices is what we need to make a killer Paneer Butter Masala! And I used the organic kind too! So there!
This Paneer Butter Masala was one of the 3 things that I made for the surprise party that we helped a friend throw for his wife last week and I made everything under 1.25 hours so it was a mad dash from start to finish. Of course the Spicy Mutton Curry continued cooking in the slow cooker at the venue which was at another friend’s place.
I have been using the Verka brand of Paneer which is available in the refrigerated section of Costco – I have nothing but good things to say about it.
Ingredients: Easy Peasy Paneer Butter Masala – Cheat Recipe
Paneer – 3 Cups, cubed (about 350gm or 1/3 of the Verka slab)
Half a medium-sized red onion, cut into thin half moon slices
2 tsp of ginger paste or grated ginger + 1 inch of ginger, julienned (cut into thin strips)
2 or 3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tbsp. of Greek Yogurt, whisked (or use 2 tbsp. of cashew paste/almond paste)
1 and 1/4 Cup of Pizza Sauce or tomato purée (or pasta sauce)
A palmful of Kasuri Methi, crushed between the palms of your hand
3/4 tsp of Garam Masala
1/4 Cup of cilantro, chopped
Enough sugar to taste
Salt to taste
2 Cups of water
How to make Easy Peasy Paneer Butter Masala – Cheat Recipe
Whisk the Greek yogurt and set aside. You can use cashew paste or couple of tablespoons of cream instead. I usually switch out cashew paste with almond paste (since I am allergic to cashews) but on that particular day, I did not have the time to make an almond paste. The Greek Yogurt was the perfect substitute for thickening the sauce. If you do not have access to Greek yogurt, use hung curd instead.
Melt butter in pan and temper with cumin seeds and bay leaf till the cumin seeds start spluttering a little! Fry the red onion slices along with the grated ginger and minced garlic till the raw smell is gone. Pour in the pizza sauce (or pasta sauce or tomato purée for the authentic version) and cook till the sauce starts leaving the sides. Do not worry too much if your sauces (pizza or pasta) are mildly flavored – the aromatic Indian spices will mask it completely.
Next goes in the whisked yogurt (or cashew paste/cream/almond paste), along with salt, sugar and paprika. Add enough sugar to counter the tartness from the tomatoes and yogurt.
You can add red chili powder and/or slit green chilies if you prefer more heat.
Add water and simmer on low heat for a few minutes till the sauce thickens. Add the paneer pieces and let pieces soak in the delicious sauce for a couple of minutes. Take it off heat and finish with the crushed Kasuri Methi, Garam Masala and chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice or roti. Refrigerate leftovers.