Thursday, 13 March 2014

Kadhai Paneer

Apart from baking, the other cooking bug that has caught my fancy these days is to prepare my own masalas. Indeed, it is an extra effort and you do get to buy it from the stores easily. However, the aroma and the taste that home ground masalas impart cannot be traded with the store bought ones. To be more traditional, I would have in fact loved to hand grind these masalas instead of the electric grinder. Alas! That is not possible for the time being. Today is a Kadhai recipe for paneer and since I have quite a lot of masalas left, chicken and veg kadhai dishes will soon follow. I recently came to know and understand the idea behind naming this dish as "kadhai". Apart from being served in a "kadhai" (which I did not have with me), this dish is essentially cooked without the cover. The ingredients in the dish are such which do not require much cooking and hence "kadhai" dishes can be easily cooked on a medium low flame without any cover and pretty fast too. For those friends who do not know the meaning of kadhai, it simply means a wok in hindi. So go ahead and prepare this "kadhai" masala and enjoy an array of delicious "Kadhai" dishes.

For the Kadhai Masala
6 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
10-12 whole kashmiri chillies
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 1-inch piece cinnamon sticks
2 black cardamoms
8 green cardamoms (I used all 10 green cardamoms as I did not have the black variety)
2 bay leaves

Other ingredients
250 gms paneer, cubed
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic, grated
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup assorted bell peppers, julienned
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp kadhai masala
Fresh coriander leaves chopped
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil

For the Kadhai Masala
Dry roast all the ingredients listed under masala and let it cool. Be careful not to burn the masalas. Once cooled, grind to a fine powder. Store in air tight container.

In a pan, heat the oil and fry the paneer cubes till light golden in color. Remove from heat and soak in lukewarm water until used. In the same oil, add the ginger garlic and fry till lightly browned. Now add the chopped tomatoes and fry till they are soft and mushy. Add the dry spices and fry till oil starts appearing on the sides. Now tip in the julienned bell peppers and keep stirring on medium flame till the masala thickens. Now add the paneer cubes and mix all the masalas well. If you want to have it dry, you can now add the fresh coriander leaves and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes before removing it from heat. I wanted a bit of gravy and so added about 1/2 cup of the water in which  the paneer cubes were soaked. Check the seasoning and let the gravy thicken to your desired consistency for 5-7 minutes on medium flame. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice/roti.

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