June 2, 2007
Paneer Butter Masala
At a time when North Indian food wasn’t easily available in Madras, I fell in love with the combination of Naan and Paneer Butter Masala. When I was attending the Canning and Preservation classes conducted by the Ministry and Food, Amma gave me Rs. 20 one day and told me to have lunch outside. I relished the Naan and Paneer Butter Masala combo that I had at Gitanjali restaurant in T. Nagar. I still remember that day!
I have never attempted to make Naans as I am certain that it will be beyond me (even Amma hasn’t been very successful, so as if I stand a chance!) But sometime during my two and a half weeks of unemployment in Gurgaon last year (when I moved here after marriage), I decided to make something special for S. After all, I was sitting at home all day doing nothing but job hunting. A good meal is the least I can prepare. So I decided to make Paneer Butter Masala and Jeera Rice.
When I looked up recipes, I found that despite the name, butter was almost non existent in the dish. That got me even more excited. Less butter = less guilt. This recipe I picked up from Tarla Dalal’s book and modified the proportions. I have even ditched the butter altogether since the first time I made it.
Here’s a recipe for a side dish that is an absolute favourite. Although I am big vegetable and fruit lover, this remains one of those happy foods of mine.
1 tbsp Oil (Or ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp Oil)
1 Onion, ground to a fine paste
1 cup Paneer, cubed
¼ cup Tomato Puree
¾ cup Slim Milk
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Kasuri Methi
1 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
Heat the oil. Add the onion paste and fry for a few minutes. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and fry for another minute. Add the tomato puree and salt. Mix well until the mixture bubbles. Add the milk and bring to a boil while stirring. Add the kasuri methi, sugar and the paneer pieces. Cook for 5 minutes. Garnish this with coriander leaves if you wish and enjoy with rotis or naans.
Thanks to a restaurant Vilas Venue at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad that was very close to where I stayed, I have made variations of this dish: Mushroom Butter Masala and Babycorn Butter Masala. The best part is that this dish is ready within minutes.