Paneer Capsicum Masala

Paneer Capsicum Masala

Paneer is one of the favorite vegetarian curries at the restaurants. This Indian version of cottage cheese is full of protein. It is a different story that the rich and heavy gravy they prepare at the restaurants almost negates the health benefits. I have tried making restaurant style paneer curry at home many times and this recipe comes closest. For me paneer and capsicum are the best combination. Fresh paneer and capsicum are key to a yummy curry.

I do not get fresh paneer here and I rely on frozen paneer when I have guests at home. Put the frozen paneer in hot water for 3-5 minutes and you have soft paneer ready to cook. Now comes the tricky part. Restaurant style gravy but in a slightly healthier version. I leave out the butter for sure. Second substitution I make is, to reduce the quantity of cashew nuts to half and add melon seeds.

I prepare the gravy in advance and freeze it in batches. Every time I want to cook paneer ki sabji, I just take one batch of gravy and defrost it and cook it with panner and the vegetables of my choice. I have the curry ready in minutes.

This curry can be served with hot roti, naan, or with jeera rice. Do not forget fresh cut or pickled onions and some fresh non spicy green chillies.

Paneer Capsicum Masala

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 ½ cup paneer
  • 1 cup mixed bell peppers chopped into square medium sized pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped

For Gravy

  • 1 big tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion roughly  chopped
  • 20-22 cashew nuts
  • 3 inch piece of ginger chopped
  • 4 cloves of roughly garlic
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp kasoori methi
  • 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh cream (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp oil

Recipe

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a deep pan. Add green chilli, ginger, and garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned, add onions and saute. Cook till onions are translucent. Add cashews and melon seeds and cook till the cashews are lightly browned sauteing in between. Add the tomatoes, salt, and red chilli powder and mix well. Cook till oil separates and tomatoes are mushy (2-3 minutes). Switch off the gas and let this mixture cool. Once it is cool, grind this to a fine paste and keep aside.

You can store this gravy in the freezer for future use too.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds pop, add onions and cook till they are translucent. Add bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add paneer and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the gravy and mix well. Add little water if the gravy is too thick. Cook for 3-4 minutes or till oil separates. Garnish with fresh cream and chopped coriander and serve with hot rotis or rice.

Paneer Bhurji (Cottage Cheese Scramble)

Paneer Bhurji (Cottage Cheese Scramble)

Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is one of the most popular cooking ingredients in northern part of India. It is made by curdling fresh milk. Taste of any good paneer recipe is directly proportional to the freshness of paneer. There are a variety of frozen paneer cubes/slabs available at the super markets. To make paneer at home, please refer to my post on homemade paneer.

As kids, eating paneer was a luxury. We used to get to eat paneer sabji whenever milk curdled at home or if it was a festival or celebration. When I moved to Bangalore, I was pleasantly surprised to see fresh paneer being sold at the supermarket nearby. Namdharis and Karthik’s sweet shop are probably the best places in Indiranagar to buy fresh paneer.

Now in Singapore, I was even more surprised to find variety of frozen paneer from its homeland Punjab. Mustafa centre stocks a variety of paneer (slab, pieces, & fried). I just lapped up some frozen paneer from Mustafa and tried this quick recipe and it did taste just like it used to taste with fresh paneer in Bangalore.

Paneer Bhurji (Cottage Cheese Scramble)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh paneer crumbled
  • 2 tbsp oil (you can use butter if you like a calorie rich version)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 capsicum finely chopped
  • 1/2 tomato finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan.

Add jeera and let it crackle. Add ginger and green chillies. Once the chillies are slightly browned, add onions and let them brown a little.

Add capsicum and sauté for about 1 minute; add tomatoes and let them cook till oil separates and tomatoes are mashed when you mix them. Add salt and red chilli powder and cook for a minute.

Now add the crumbled paneer and milk. Milk helps the paneer absorb the spices and makes the bhurji soft. If you find the bhurji dry, you can add couple of more tablespoons of milk. Mix everything and cook for 3-4 minutes. Finally add the garam masala and finely chopped coriander just before switching off the gas.

You can serve paneer bhurji with hot naan, rotis, parathas, or add it as a filling to sandwiches, wraps, or dosa.