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Paneer Butter Masala - Restaurant style(Improvised version)

If you are looking for something healthy or lighter version, no offense...you can just stop here and look for other recipes(hey..the name says it all....it is Paneer, BUTTER and whole lot of other good creamy stuff). I have never came across a restaurant in USA that does not serve Paneer butter masala. This mouth watering gravy is like heaven to your taste buds with right amount of spiciness, creaminess and little sweetness. Here is my version of this awesome goodness..Give it a try :)
Word of caution: This recipe looks little lengthy and takes time but trust me, it is all more than worth it at the end..

Ingredients

800 grams(around 2 lbs) Paneer sliced into bite sized cubes
2 big onions grind to paste(around 4 1/2 to 5 cups of onion paste)
3 tbsp ginger garlic paste
8 large tomatoes blanched(check notes below), skin removed and made to fine puree(around 4 cups of puree)
24 whole cashews
2 tsp poppy seeds/gasagasalu(optional)
4 bay leaves
2 cups milk(I highly recommend whole milk)
2 cups water
2 3/4 tbsp kasuri methi(dry fenugreek leaves)
2 tsp garam masala
4 tbsp corinader powder
2 to 4 tsp red chilli powder(adjust per your taste and spice level)
8 tbsp + 2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp oil
2 tsp sugar(optional)
4 tbsp fresh cream for garnish(optional)
Salt per taste

Method

Step 1:

Soak cashews in water for 15 minutes. Grind cashews and poppy seeds to a fine smooth paste adding 2 or 3 tbsp of water. Set aside.
Grind the onions and make into a fine paste and set aside.
Get the tomato puree ready and set aside. 
Heat 2 tbsp butter in a pan. Add paneer and saute till golden brown. Remove them into a bowl and set aside.

Step 2:

Heat 8 tbsp butter and 4 tbsp oil in a pan. Add bay leaves and let them fry for couple of seconds. Add in onion paste, ginger garlic paste and salt. Cover the lid and let the onion paste cook till all the water is evaporated and onion paste turns light brown in color and all the raw smell/taste goes away. Keep stirring in between. (Takes about to 15 to 20 minutes depending on the water content in the onions)

Add in red chilli powder, cashew-poppy seed paste and give it a good stir. Let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring or else the curry sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Add in tomato puree/paste. Close the lid and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes till all the water is evaporated and until oil starts to seperate from the gravy. Again, keep stirring in between so that the gravy does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

At this point add in coriander powder, garam masala powder and mix well. Let it cook for a minute. 

Add in milk and water, give it a good stir. This is the perfect time to check and adjust the seasonings(salt and spice). Close the lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until oil starts to float on the surface.

At this point add in sugar(if gravy tastes little sour from the tomatoes), paneer cubes and kasuri methi. Give it a good stir and close the lid. Cook for 5 minutes or till the gravy reaches required consistency. Turn off the heat, take into serving bowl and garnish with fresh cream.

Can be served with any rice or roti or naan. I made Jeera rice to go with this today.

Notes

1. For tomato puree, you can make a X on the tomatoes with a knife, put them in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 2 to 3 to minutes. Let them cool and remove the skin. If cooked correctly the skin just peels off easily. Now puree them in a blender. If the puree is little watery, it will take little more time to cook off
2. You can always add in chopped green bell peppers along with paneer in the end so that they will still be little crunchy.
3. The key is to keep stirring occasionally so that the gravy does not stick to the bottom of the pan. 
4. Because of high water content in the purees and pastes the gravy tried to jump of the pan which is why cook it covered till you add in paneer only removing the lid to stir or add in new ingredients.
5. Paneer can always be substituted with chicken or mixed vegetables. 
6. To get the vibrant orange color, when adding in red chilli powder, add in a tbsp of kashmiri chili powder as well if you have that on hand. Kashmiri chili powder is super mild and it will not add any extra spiciness to the dish.
7. Only add sugar if tomatoes does not have that natural sweetness to them and little sour to taste.
8. Make sure cashews and poppy seeds are grind to a fine creamy paste without any grainy texture.



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