Kids love paneer. This creamy, slightly sweet and mildly spicy dish pleasantly flavored with butter is also very kid friendly. Paneer Makhani aka Paneer Butter Masala is a very tasty dish but considered to be quite unhealthy. I’ve made an attempt to minimize the unhealthy aspects of this dish as much as possible, while still retaining its richness and deliciousness.
Makhan is a Hindi word that means butter. Butter imparts such a pleasant flavor to this dish. You may not end up with the same authentic flavor of the dish if you do away with the butter entirely. However, a combination of butter and olive oil does help you to make it a little healthier retaining its same flavor. Many recipes call for sauteing onions and tomatoes in oil before making it into a paste. I’ve cooked onions in water and have added tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes. This cuts down some oil for sure.
Cashewnut is another typical ingredient for this recipe to add creaminess to the dish in addition to fresh heavy cream. I’ve subsituted cashew paste with almond butter and light cream instead of heavy cream. You can substitute the regular paneer with low fat paneer as well. Also, I’ve seen people deep fry paneer before adding it to the sauce. This is not required if you add fresh paneer cubes into the sauce and cook them just before serving. With all these alterations, the dish still has the same great taste making you lick your plate till you wipe out the very last drop of it.
This recipes gives you a restuarant style Paneer Mahkani. Same great flavor, same great taste, but a much healthier version of it. Happy cooking!
2 cups cubed paneer
1 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 cup light cream
1 teaspoon kasoori methi
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kitchen king masala
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Place the onions in a microwaveable bowl, fill with water and microwave it for 5-6 minutes. Strain and transfer the cooked onions to a blender/mixer. Do not discard the onion water. To the onions add tomato sauce, almond butter, salt, paprika, kitchen king masala, sugar, turmeric, and cardamom powder and grind them to a smooth paste. Add just a little water while grinding, only if required.
Heat butter and oil in a non-stick skillet, add kasoori methi and fry till it turns slightly brown and aromatic. Add the ground paste and saute well until the oil separates out. Turn down heat to simmer, add paneer cubes and saute for about a minute or two. To this, add one cup of the reserved onion water. Immediately, add the cream and continue to simmer until it mixes thoroughly with the sauce.
Make sure to simmer only from this point onwards, the cream will start to curdle otherwise. The onion water not only helps to manage the consistency of the sauce, but also to lower its temperature before the cream is added.
Turn off heat when the sauce starts to boil slightly. Serve warm with roti, parantha or basmati rice.
Make ahead tips:
You can make the curry/sauce (without the cream) ahead of time and refigerate it. Just before serving, add paneer, cream and water, simmer it till it slowly starts to boil. That’s it!
1. Substitute 1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder for 1 teaspoon of paprika, if you do not have it
2. You can substitute equal amount of cashew paste for almond butter. You can make your own cashew paste by soaking raw (unroasted) cashewnuts in milk for about an hour and grinding into a fine paste
3. Garam masala can be a substitute for Kitchen King masala. But Kitchen King masala is milder and gives you an authentic flavor for the dish in combination with cardamom. It is very commonly available in every Indian grocery store.
4. In some of my previous recipes I would have suggested pureed tomatoes as a substitute for tomatoes. It does not work for this recipe though. If you absolutely do not want to use tomato sauce, saute tomatoes in oil and puree.