The quest for good food is never over. There are so many recipes to try and replicate at home. So after a hope skip and jump, I landed on Paneer Butter Masala. Any Indian will know that paneer butter masala or PBM is a favorite Indian restaurant dish. It is most frequently ordered and is delicious. The secret to this recipe is locked within the doors of the restaurant kitchen and is guarded from the ears of novice home cooks. No fancy dinner is complete without this dish.
However, after ordering PBM for the gazillionth time from various restaurants, my hubby suggested I should try it at home. After all, I had a very nice blog with a lot of followers and I should keep trying new dishes to keep the blog-ness flowing…he said. So after a great boost to my ego, he left me scavenging in the fridge for ingredients. Why should this recipe be so difficult, I thought? It sounds so similar to Matar Paneer. The names are so similar – Matar Paneer vs Paneer Butter Masala. Just substitute cream for matar. Easy peasy…no sir. It did not turn out to be the same. The result was a disaster. Then I knew, I had to go on a journey to get the real recipe for PBM.
The journey did not last long. The internet is full of blogs with loads of recipes for PBM. So back to the market. Got some more paneer and cream and this time, I added kasoori methi to the dish. Added a bit of plain flour to the cream before mixing with the gravy. The result was good. However, it did not taste like the restaurant PBM. Dinner was a success but the tongue was not satiated.
Life is not easy after all. Best way out was to continue ordering PBM from various restaurants. Then came Valentine’s Day and I realized the PBM bug was still biting me. If only I could make this dish, it would be the icing on the cake to my surprise candle-lit dinner. Here I was back at the market for more paneer and more cream. Nevertheless, the secret ingredient was missing. I searched a lot of recipes, and I mean a lot, but no two recipes were the same. Some were extolling microwave recipes and some were adding red color to get to the right result. But as we all know, the test for a good dish is when you take the first bite and you are elevated to the next level of foodie heaven. I knew then I had to create my own recipe to take my PBM to that level. So a few snips here and a few additions there and viola, the PBM was amazing. Finally I got a nod from my hubby.
I present my restaurant-style PBM recipe here. I have not added red food coloring but you can if you have some in your kitchen. Also, when cream is added, the flavors become mild. Hence, add more spices than normal to give PBM its strong lingering taste. All the ingredients mentioned below are indispensable to complete the flavor spectrum.
250 gm paneer
2 tbsp oil
1 pinch asafetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion or 2 small ones
2 large tomatoes or 3 small ones
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 green chilli
2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2 cup milk
1 /2 cup double cream
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp kasoori methi
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
Oil for frying
Grind the onions, tomatoes, green chilli, cinnamon and cloves to a fine paste. Add ginger garlic paste to it.
Heat oil in a skillet or a saucepan and add asafetida and cumin seeds. When the cumin starts to crackle, add the onion tomato puree. Cook the puree till the oil separates.
While the puree is cooking, cut the paneer into cubes. Fry in oil till golden brown on all sides. Keep aside. This is optional. You can add the paneer cubes without frying also. However, frying gives a solid shape to the paneer and makes the dish look more professional and restaurant-style.
Once the onion tomato paste is ready, add the tomato ketchup. Cook on low heat for 3-4 mins.
Add milk and the remaining spices. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cream slowly in a thin stream while mixing continuously. If the gravy seems thick, add more milk.
Add the paneer cubes and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with naan or paratha.