Often times, I am disappointed or frustrated when I go to an Indian restaurant in US. Disappointed because virtually all gravy bases taste the same (and some restaurants do use the same base for ALL–fact obtained from a friend who worked in the kitchen of an Indian Restaurant in Michigan). Frustrated because they are often served in tiny portions fit for a squirrel. My frustration only magnifies when, on rare occasion, I actually like–Which now makes the serving size look appropriate for a baby squirrel.
Case in point is Paneer Butter Masala (PBM for short). This is a staple in virtually any Indian restaurant. But many restaurants in US demonstrate the perfect ways to ruin it–chewy Paneer (aka stale paneer), watered down gravy with nothing but cream and tomato paste. I could go on and on. If you have ever tasted PBM in a restaurant in India, you know exactly what I am talking about. PBM is so commonly available on Indian restaurant menus, that you would have already come across it, where ever in the world you are. And quite likely you have tasted the sub-optimal one. No worries, as here I present you an easy version which is quick on time but not short on taste.
Also, the best part is you can make the base and freeze it for at least up to 3 months. Once you thaw it, all you need to do is add Paneer and cook it for 10-15 minutes. Much better option than a take-out.
What you need (makes 6-8 servings):
1 cup Cashews dry roasted
2 cups Milk (low fat or zero fat)
250 gm Paneer cubed
4 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Garam masala
3 tbsp Tomato paste
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder (or to taste)
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup water, as needed
1 tsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
Pinch of hulled Pumpkin or Watermelon seeds for garnish (optional)
How to make it:
- Blend the Cashew nuts with 1 cup of milk, until smooth. Make sure that there are no Cashew pieces left. If needed, you can strain the mix in a big meshed sieve or cheese cloth to catch any pieces. We need a silky smooth paste
- Add Garam Masala to the blended mix and combine well
- Heat a deep sauce pan on medium and add Butter. Once melted add the Tomato Paste and cook until the raw smell of tomatoes goes away, about 4-5 minutes
- Add the Cashew paste to the pan and mix thoroughly
- Add the remaining Milk, Salt, Red Chilli powder, and Tomato Ketchup and cook on simmer for 5-7 minutes
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary (you don’t want to stir the gravy too much after adding Paneer). If you need thinner consistency, add a bit of water
- Add Paneer cubes and mix gently to coat
- Crush Kasoori Methi in your palm and add to the gravy. Gently mix to incorporate.
- Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes
- Garnish with Pumpkin/Watermelon seeds and serve hot with Naan or Peas Pulav