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Confession of the day? I have quite the soft spot for Indian food. It’s something about the combination of aromatics, spices and the warmth in my tummy that has me hooked. My friend used to make us some killer chana masala when we lived in university – it always had just the right amount of heat and flavour. My current obsession? Paneer Makhani (the one at Bar Bar is fantastic). I am in love with the creamy texture and the little bites of paneer. I dabbled with saag paneer for a while but I haven’t found a version in Singapore that I like – the spinach is always too blended or too gummy.

Anyway, last night I set out to make some paneer makhani for dinner – having spotted some organic paneer at the supermarket. I also made an addition to the recipe that I’m sure any Indian food connoisseur would probably laugh at – I added black bean puree (I’ve realized this weird obsession of mine to add black beans to everything – daily doses of fibre & protein!) – I think it added a nice texture to the dish but you could do without as well. But overall, it was surprisingly easy and definitely tasty and we will no doubt be having this for dinner again sometime soon.

Here’s how!

Paneer Makhani

(recipe adapted from Chef In You)

What You Need:
  • 2 cups Paneer cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cups tomato puree (process tomatoes for homemade puree)
  • 2 green chillies or 1 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne.
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 fresh cilantro chopped, a few leaves for garnish
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup black beans, pureed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock (if needed for consistency)
  • Salt to taste
What to Do:
  1. Place store bought paneer in a bowl of bowling water for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, puree the tomatoes and the black beans separately, set aside. Drain the water from the paneer.
  2. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a large pot, add the onion, chillies, garlic and ginger with a little salt. Sautee until onions are translucent. Transfer this mixture to the food processor and blend it into a paste.
  3. In the same pot, add 3 tbsp of butter. Add the green peppers and sautee for 5 minutes. Then, add the onion paste and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, all the spices and the cilantro. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add sugar and lemon juice and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the black bean puree and stir well into the mixture. Add the paneer gently and toss in the sauce.  Cover with lid and cook for another 3-5 minutes for the paneer to absorb the flavours.
  5. Lower the heat to a simmer (be careful not to add the cream while it’s too hot or it’ll curdle). Then add the heavy cream. Mix well.
  6. Garnish with cilanto leaves and serve with a bowl of brown rice and some accompanying steamed vegetables. Delicious!
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