Paneer Lababdar (Cottage Cheese in a creamy tangy gravy)

We are a family that loves our Paneer (Cottage cheese), It is a regular guest on our dinning table which makes its appearance on a fortnightly basis. These soft fluffy pillow like Cheese is so delicious and versatile that I can try and do something different with it without making it too repetitive and boring.



One of my favorite ways of making Paneer is is Paneer Lababdar or the facelift Paneer as we like to call it. By facelift I mean frying it before cooking it in a gravy full of Cream and Almonds.



Yes this dish is not for the faint hearted as it has all the velvety creamy goodness in it which ofcourse is bad is for our health and so good for my taste buds. Hence I don’t make it often and when we do we just serve it on its own with some hot plain rotis and raita (yogurt dip), hoping to give our tummies a little respite.


This is also a great vegetarian party dish and the gravy can be made in advanced and freezed to be used whenever you want it to. If you can’t find Paneer from your local Indian shop you can buy some low fat unsalted Ricotta cheese from your local store deli or roasted Chicken Breast with for a non vegetarian version and it tastes as delicious. It is almost like a cross between Shahi Paneer and Butter Paneer but none of those.


Here is the recipe (cooking time 40 – 45 minutes)

Ingredient:


1 cup fresh or frozen Paneer

1 large Onion roughly chopped

2 medium Tomatoes blanched in hot water

2 Green chillies

1/3 cup Almonds ground to a paste

3 Garlic cloves

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tbsp fresh Cream

1 tsp Cumin seeds

2 cloves

1 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp vegetable Oil

1 tsp Red chilli powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp crushed Fenugreek leaves (Kasuri Methi)

4 Cardamoms

1 small Cinnamon Stick

1/3 cup Peas (optional)


Method:


Cooking the Paneer:


1) Heat the oil in a pan and fry the Cottage cheese gently on all sides till it is a light Golden Brown in color. You need to be gentle as if the Cheese is cooked too long it will taste like rubber.


2) Remove the Paneer on a kitchen towel and let it stand till you get the gravy ready.


For the Gravy :


1) Heat Butter in a pan and add the Ginger, Garlic, Cardamom, Cinnamon & Cloves.


2) Add the Onion and Green chillies and saute till the Onions are almost translucent.


3) Add the blanched Tomatoes and let them cook till everything gets all mushy and soft.


4) Turn of the heat and let it cook before you blitz it to a fine paste.


Do not add Water, Cream and Almond paste if you are making this gravy to freeze.


5) Heat the same pan and add the Cumin seeds and the blitzed paste, cover and cook for a few minutes on a medium flame till the butter starts to leave the pan.


6) Add the Almond paste , Red Chilli powder and Salt and mix well.


7) Add the Cream, mix well and then add 1/2 or 1 cup of hot water to the pan and let it come to a boil. Add the green Peas and let them cook for 5 – 7 minutes and turn off the heat.


8) Add the fried Paneer to the gravy and sprinkle the fenugreek leaves. Cover and let it sit till you are ready to serve. The Paneer will soak up all the hot gravy thirstily but still hold its firmness. Garnish with some Cream is you wish (too much of Cream can never be bad can it)

Serve hot with steamed Rice or Rotis.


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