PANEER MAKHANWALA (RESTAURANT
STYLE)-BUTTER FRIED COTTAGE CHEESE IN A TOMATO
GRAVY INFUSED WITH WHOLE AND POWDERED SPICES
Paneer Makhanwalla is known as Makhanwalla because not only butter also known as Makhan is used in this dish but also the gravy is creamy due to the addition of the fresh cream. My Punjabi neighbor told me that traditionally they didn’t use onions in the dish, but since my recipe is restaurant style, I thought I will go all the way and indulge in the onions which will add extra flavor to the dish. Although popularly thought of as a Punjabi dish, this dish is actually classified as a Mughlai dish as it is very rich with fresh cream and is a gift from the Mughals who invaded and ruled
This dish is usually considered mild, as the fresh cream makes the dish mild
and tones down the spice of the masalas. This is a hot favorite among Westerners
who absolutely love this dish. The blend of the tomato puree, the fresh whole
spices, the powdered spices and the fresh cream is a delight to anyone’s palate.
This dish is usually eaten with Indian Breads (Roti’s, fulkas, parathas or
naans) but my daughter loves this with Rice. She absolutely relishes the Jeera
rice and Panner Makhanwalla combo. I guess kids enjoy it because it’s mild and
Paneer - 250 gms (cut into cubes of 1 inch each)
Grated paneer or cheese - 1/2 tbsp
Tomato Puree – 200gms
Fresh cream – 200 gms
Butter -1-2 tbsps
Onion - 1
Ginger paste -1 tsp
Garlic paste-1 tsp (optional, I don’t use garlic in my cooking, so I avoid it)
Bay Leaf - 1
Cinnamon (Dalcheeni) - 1" stick
Big cardamom black (Badi elaichi ) - 1
Cardamom - 2
Cloves - 2
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Dried fenugreek leaves powder (Kasuri methi powder) - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Fresh Green Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 tbsp
Salt as per taste
For the paneer
I used frozen paneer in this dish and I usually soak them in some hot water for about 15-20 minutes until they become soft like fresh paneer and drain the water after a while through a colander.
For the tomato puree
You can either use 3 big red, ripe tomatoes and make a puree in the blender. I have used the tomato puree from the can as they have a deep red color and I usually stock a few cans in the case of an emergency.
Grind the Onions, ginger and garlic(optional) to a paste.
In a Wok (Kadhai), add 2 tbsps of butter, lightly sauté the paneer and keep aside. The reason we sauté the paneer lightly in butter is to make it tough and not so easy to crumble inside the gravy.
In the same oil add the Bay Leaf, Cinnamon stick, Badi elaichi, Cardamom, Cloves and the cumin seeds. When the cumin gets fried. Add in the onion-ginger-garlic paste. After about 2 minutes, add in the tomato puree, let ir fry well for another 2-3 minutes with the onion paste, Now add in the Kasuri methi powder, Garam masala, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Turmeric powder and Red chilli powder, mix well and fry until you see the oil come out of the masala. This is the indication that the masala is done. The masala should be cooked otherwise the dish will have a raw masala smell. Now add 2 cups of water. Let it simmer on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes and let all the spices get marinated in the sauce.
If you feel you need more gravy add more water at this point, let it come to one boil then, add the lightly butter sautéd paneer pieces and with a light hand just mix well. Don’t use a heavy hand else you may break the paneer and it will get very crumbled. After about 5 minutes of cooking. Don’t over cook the paneer. Add the fresh cream and cook for just 2 minutes till one boil appears. Put off the gas, remove the flame. Garnish with Freshly chopped green coriander leaves and grated paneer. You can also decorate the dish by dropping fresh cream in a pattern as a dressing like they do in restaurants.
Serve hot with Roti’s, fulkas, parathas or naans. Enjoy the Paneer Makhanwalla.