I’m honestly appreciative of people who have altered to being vegetarians from being non-vegetarians through out their lives. Hubby dear and me, must admit, that we can never follow suit. We love meat too much to ever give it up. Being vegetarian since your childhood is one thing and giving up the temptations of all the delicious chicken, mutton and fish preparations at a much later age, is another. One needs courage and strong determination to reach this stage in life. But I would only appreciate people who have stuck to it. You don’t qualify if you ran back to chicken leg pieces after sometime.
Quite a few years back, during one of my sails with my husband, an officer’s strictly vegetarian wife onboard, found it extremely difficult to adjust herself at the common dining table where we were all non-vegetarians and always had our plates full of chicken curry or grilled fish or beef steaks. The sight of so much non-veg food around her made her nauseated, which in turn was expressed evidently through her facial expressions. On the other hand, looking at her plate, I would think to myself, if I had to eat like her, I wouldn’t survive. I cannot live on only vegetarian food.
That was years ago when my level of aversion to anything vegetarian was extreme. But now, I have grown, and have grown matured. Though I never plan to turn into a vegetarian, I have started liking some vegetarian food. Like paneer. I have also taken notice of the fact that almost all vegetarians love paneer. In any form. Though even today, I think twice, thirce or maybe a few more times before ordering a paneer dish while eating out, my first choice perpetually remains the classic Paneer Butter Masala. Maybe it’s more to do with the rich and creamy gravy. This dish is on every menu. Almost. Be it a roadside dhaba or a high-end authentic Indian restaurant. A typical North Indian dish, that is aptly served with Naan.
The traditional way to accomplish the perfect Panner Butter Masala is to use a lot of fat – like cream, butter, ghee and cashew nuts. However, to reduce the large quantity of fat content in it, use yogurt instead of cream and don’t be too generous with the butter or ghee.
- Paneer 250 gm (diced into small square pieces)
- Ginger paste 2 tsp.
- Garlic paste 2 tsp.
- Boiled onion paste 3/4 cup
- Kasoori methi 1/4 tsp.
- Coriander powder 1 tsp.
- Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
- Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp.
- Garam masala powder 1/2 tsp.
- Warm milk 1/2 cup
- Cashew nut paste 2 tbsp.
- Fresh cream 4 tbsp.
- Tomato purée 2 tbsp.
- Tomato ketchup 1 tbsp.
- Ghee 5 tbsp.
- Butter 2 tbsp.
- Salt as per taste
- Soak kasoori methi in warm milk. Keep aside. Heat ghee in a pan and add boiled onion paste. Stir for about 5 minutes and add the ginger and garlic paste. Further fry for 2 minutes.
- Add tomato purée, tomato ketchup, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Stir for 2 minutes, add about half a cup of water, cover and cook for a little while (say about 5 minutes).
- Next, add garam masala powder, milk with kasoori methi, fresh cream and cashew nut paste. Mix well. Add paneer pieces in the gravy and mix till all pieces are nicely coated with the gravy. Cook for about 10 minutes or till the paneer pieces are soft and tender.
- To finish, stir in the butter. Serve hot with your choice of any Indian bread or pulao.