Paneer is a fresh cheese that many use in South Asia, especially in India. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or vinegar. In eastern India, its crumbly and moist form is called chhena. Out of it, one can prepare renowned Bengali sweets like chum chum, rasgulla and sandesh. Apart from sweets, paneer is a huge part of a vegetarian diet all across India. One can make many main course Indian dishes with this delicious ingredient. My favorite paneer dishes are Kadhai Paneer, Palak Paneer, Malai Kofta, Paneer Pasanda, Shahi Paneer and Matar Paneer. Check out my Mushroom Kofta recipe that has the goodness of both paneer and mushrooms.
Though I believe we should incorporate more plant-based foods into our daily diet, some dairy products are still a staple in my kitchen. We consume Ghee, yogurt, and paneer pretty often. These three dairy products have their nutritional significance besides the taste factor. Paneer is high in calcium which makes it especially useful for bone health. And, that is why very beneficial for growing children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. And since we are expecting our second one, I am letting go easy on this.
Making kadhai paneer with a twist
Commonly, people make this dish by deep-frying or shallow frying paneer. However, I have used the baking method to cut down on calories. By marinading paneer and baking it, I noticed that it gives a very distinct smoky flavor to the whole dish. And that’s how I remember that it tastes just like tandoori paneer tikka. Everyone in my family fondly relishes this dish, and so I consider it as one of my paneer specialties.
You can also skip using an oven. Instead of baking it, you can pan-fry the marinated paneer cubes over a skillet or a griller. Also, you can use plain paneer cubes to mix with sauteed veggies in a spicy curry. The dish will still taste good. However, I recommend trying making kadhai paneer in the tandoori style. It tastes superb and so very flavorful.
Also, this kadhai paneer recipe calls for a variety of bell peppers which makes it look colorful and appetizing. You won’t stop at first serving and definitely reach out for the second one again. If any leftovers, then you can easily store it in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1-2 days. Though you will need to add little water while reheating to even out the consistency of the curry. So do give it a try and share your experience with us in the comments below.
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- 1 tsp and a pinch Turmeric Powder
- 1 & 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
- As per taste salt
- 1 & 1/2 tsp Black Pepper Powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 2-3 tsp Yogurt
- 1/2 tsp(optional) Mixed Pickle
- 500 g Cottage Cheese
- 1 tbsp semolina
- 2 cm root Small Ginger Pod
- 1-2 Garlic Pod
- 2 Red Chili
- 1 Tomato
- 2 White Onion
- A bunch Fresh Coriander Leaves
- 12-15 g Cashewnuts
- 1 each Red, Yellow & Green Bell Peppers
- As per need olive oil
- 1-2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1-2 Bay Leaf
- 2 Dried Red Chilies
- 1-2 tsp Tomato Ketchup
- 2-3 tsp Kasoori Methi
- 10-12 Raisins
- As per requirement water
- Prepare Marinade: In a large mixing bowl, add chickpea flour. Add a teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, a pinch of turmeric powder, half teaspoon coriander powder, half teaspoon, half teaspoon garam masala, and salt as per taste. Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly.
- Now add 2-3 tablespoon yogurt and mix gently. Gradually add water to adjust consistency. The mixture should be lump-free and not too thick or runny.
Optional: Add half a teaspoon of mixed pickle and mix again.
- Add paneer cubes to the mixing bowl and fold into the prepared marinade. Also, add one tablespoon semolina over paneer cubes and then mix in a way so that all the paneer cubes get coated with the semolina.
- Cover with the cling film and leave aside the paneer cubes to marinade or 2-3 hours.
Tip: Refrigerating the marinade mix will give a harder coating to the paneer cubes. It will make the baking process easy and paneer cubes crispier.
- Prepare Gravy:
In a mortar and pestle, grate ginger and garlic pods. Add in chopped red chilies and crush thoroughly. Keep aside the freshly prepared ginger, garlic, and red chili paste until ready to be used.
- In a blending jar, add a roughly chopped tomato along with an onion. Add a bunch of coriander leaves and cashew nuts. Blend all the ingredients to form a thick paste. Keep it aside until ready to be used.
- Bake Marinaded Paneer Cubes:
Line the baking dish and assemble all the marinaded cubes onto the skewers. Drizzle the remaining marinade mixture over the assembled paneer cubes.
Bake in the preheated oven for at least 30 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius. If you want a more crispy texture, then bake for a few more minutes.
- Prepare Stir-Fried Veggies:
Chop red, yellow, and green bell peppers in a triangle or square shape. Also, chop a white onion keeping the florets thick.
- In a hot pan, add olive oil as per your liking (I added around 3-4 tsp). Then add cumin seeds, bay leaf, dried red chilies, and fresh ginger garlic chili paste. Stir vigorously and then toss in the chopped bell peppers and onion. Stir fry everything a few minutes.
- Now add the blended mixture of onion, tomato, coriander, and cashew nuts. Gently stir everything together and then time to add spices.
- Mix in a teaspoon each of Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and black pepper powder. Also, add half a teaspoon of garam masala and salt as per taste. Further, add 1-2 teaspoons of tomato ketchup. Thoroughly stir everything together and add a little water in between. It will make mixing more manageable, and also the gravy will not be too dry.
- Cover the pan with the lid and cook for a few minutes. Once the veggies get cooked, add baked paneer cubes into the pan. You can also add raisins and cashew nuts to make it more vibrant. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
- I baked the paneer cubes until I got the perfect crisp deep red coating. You can prolong the baking process if you prefer dark brown or black edges on the paneer cubes.
- Chop onion into four equal parts and then separate florets with your hands to keep it thick.