Paneer or Tofu Makhani (Butter Paneer)


Butter curries are an all-time favourite – creamy, nutty, sweetly-spiced goodness.  Once you have all the spices (which last for a long time) and a bunch of curry leaves and a couple of green chillis in the freezer this is as easy as buying some onions, a couple of tomatoes, a tin of coconut milk and some paneer or tofu.  You can also use roasted firm vegetables instead of paneer/tofu such as butternut squash, pumpkin, potato or aubergine.

Serves 2

1 block of paneer or firm tofu (pressed)
1 medium onion or 2 largish shallots (pureed – either using a stick blender in a jug or a food processor – rough chop the onion and add some oil to make it blend easier)
3 large tomatoes (pureed as above)
1 small green chilli (finely chopped)
Handful of fresh curry leaves (or dried will do)
3 tsp of ginger/garlic puree (available in a jar or 3 cloves of garlic and half a thumb of ginger minced)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
250ml of coconut milk
2 tsp of garam masala
3 tsp of dried fenugreek leaves (‘kasoori methi’)
1 tbsp of butter or your favourite non-dairy spread
Handful of cashews – soaked in a little coconut milk then ground/processed

1. Cube the paneer or tofu and fry off over a medium heat til slightly golden/browned – remove from pan and place on kitchen-towelled plate to drain.
2. Fry off the curry leaves for a few minutes, over a  medium heat, until crisp/browned – remove and save for later. (If using dried curry leaves, omit this step and just add after the coconut milk).
3. The main event: Fry green chilli over a medium heat in a little oil until browned in about a tbsp of oil (groundnut/sunflower/veg). Add the cumin, coriander, chilli powder and turmeric and cook for another minute or two until it gets really aromatic.
4. Add the pureed onion and ginger/garlic paste. This might sting your eyes so be prepared especially if you’re using shallots! Fry for about 6-8 minutes, over a medium heat though turn down if browning too quick, until they get quite brown. This is the substance of the sauce so you want a good colour (think toffee apple brown) and no hint of rawness.
5. Next, add the pureed tomatoes. This is the main stage of the curry so it will take maybe upto 15-20 mins. You basically cook out the sauce until the oil separates and starts pooling around the sides and on the top of the sauce.
6. Add the coconut milk, stir and cook out for a further 5-10 mins.
7. Finally, add the pre-fried paneer or tofu, curry leaves, garam masala, butter/non-dairy spread, ground cashew and fenugreek leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes until all well warmed and combined.

Serve with rice, breads, chutneys and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves.

All ingredients available from Matta’s – just ask if you need help finding them.

Butter paneer

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