Kashmiri Paneer Masala

350 gms Paneer diced in cubes
Mustard oil for shallow frying (or vegetable oil)
500 ml water
Pinch hing/ asafoetida
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
6 green cardamom
1/2 tsp shahi
3 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild paprika)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp fennel powder
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Coriander for garnish

In a bowl add 500mls of warm water and set aside. In a frying pan heat oil and fry the cubes of paneer in batches until golden brown. The paneer might splutter slightly so make sure the heat is on medium. Drain on kitchen paper and add the fried paneer to the bowl of warm water. Let it soak while you make the curry. This helps the paneer to retain its moisture and stay soft.

Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add asafoetida and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Now add cinnamon stick, bay leaves and green cardamom. Fry the spices for a minute as they begin to splutter and release their flavour into the oil. Add the shahi jeera and fry for 2-3 seconds.

On a low heat add the tomato puree. Stir well making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Add the chilli, ginger and fennel powder. Stir and fry for 2 minutes as they blend with the paste. Add 350mls of the soaking paneer liquid and continue to cook on a medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7minutes without the lid. The curry should have a thick consistency if it is too thick add a little more of the soaking liquid.

Crush the saffron into the gravy and whisk in the yoghurt. Simmer for a further 8 minutes and now tip the paneer chunks into the pot. Stir gently making sure they don’t break. You don’t really need to cook the paneer but just make sure the gravy coats the pieces well. Season to taste.

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