Thursday 4 April 2013

PANEER LABABDAR (COTTAGE CHEESE INDULGENCE)

PANEER LABABDAR (COTTAGE CHEESE INDULGENCE)
I first tasted Paneer Lababdar in a restaurant here in Singapore. I liked the dish so much that I decided to try making it at home. Being a Hindi teacher I started searching for the meaning of Lababdar and couldn’t find it in the Shabdkosh (Hindi dictionary) as well. There are some words that we have which are imports from Urdu & Arabic. This must be one such word. After much research I got something which describes what ‘Lababdar’ means.
‘Lababdar’ means a strong desire for something and a desire to indulge in it.
I wonder if this is a dish with some Mughal influence hence I categorize it under Mughlai and Punjabi dishes. I love the creamy red sauce in which the cottage chesse is cooked. The tenderness of the paneer, the texture of the light creamy tangy sauce. It’s truly a delight.


Ingredients
Malai Paneer (Cottage cheese) - 500 gms
Onions – 2 big sized
Tomatoes – 5 / 15oz Can of Tomato Puree
Ginger -  ½ tsp
Green chillies – 3-4
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – 1tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
White Sesame seeds (White Til) – ½ tsp
Full Cream Milk – ½ cup
Fresh Cream – 200gms
Butter - 1-2tbsps
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Dry Red Kashmiri Chilly -2 pieces
Oil – 2 tbsps
Fresh Green Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 tbsp
Mint leaves – 3-4 leaves
Salt as per taste


Method
For the paneer
I recommend making this dish with the fresh Paneer as the texture of the Paneer will be smooth and silky.
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.
Cut the paneer in small cubes and keep aside.
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.

For the tomato puree
You can either use 5 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.
Make a coarse paste of one onion, ginger and the green chillies. Finely chop the other onion.
Meanwhile dry roast the white sesame seeds and once it cools down make a powder, Don’t grind until the oil comes out.
In a Wok (Kadhai), add 2 tbsps of oil, add the cumin seeds and the carom seeds. Once it crackles, add the finely chopped onions, once it is transparent, add in the onion-ginger-green chilly paste. Add in salt and sauté until the oil comes out of the masala.
This indicates that the masala done.
Now add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and cardamom powder and cook for
4-5 minutes until the oil separates and the gravy becomes thick. The tomato paste makes the gravy thick.
Now add the powdered sesame seeds and mix well.
After this add the milk and mix well. Let it boil for a while, till you feel the gravy becomes thick again and the color becomes uniform.
Now add the Paneer cubes.
After this add garam masala powder. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Mash the Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) with your hands and add into the gravy.
Cook for another minute or 2.
Then, add the fresh cream and let it cook on sim.
Now in a small pan, melt some butter and add the dried red Kashmiri chillies and pour into the gravy.
This is a dressing and looks better on top so don’t mix.
Garnish with finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves, mint leaves and some ginger strips.
Serve hot with fulkas, roti, Naan, kulcha, paratha or even rice. Tastes best with Indian breads.

Tips:

-          You can add garlic as well for extra flavoring, I don’t use much garlic in my cooking  hence I avoided it. If incase you are adding garlic, make a paste along with the onion-ginger-chilly and follow the recipe.

-          Instead of using the full cream milk, you can use low fat milk or skimmed milk.

-          You can completely avoid fresh cream or use low fat  fresh cream

-          If the gravy is very thin, the paneer will crumble, so you must ensure that the gravy is thick.

2 comments :

Veena Theagarajan said...

nice gravy .. looks too good.. pass me with rice

divya said...

look absolutely perfect and very tempting..

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