Saturday, October 5, 2013

Paneer Handi

We were first introduced to Pakistani cuisine by our friends who took us to a Pakistani restaurant in Edison, NJ. This restaurant served buffets on weekends and we tried most items they had that day. Pakistani cuisine is quite similar to Indian but with lesser spices and it isn't very hot. Each dish's taste and flavor was enhanced with only one or at most two spices so the flavor of the vegetable or meat came through. We enjoyed our lunch there and went back a few more times. That got us interested in trying the Pakistani cuisine and I checked the net for recipes. There were a lot of videos by Pakistani chefs and I narrowed down on Chef Rahat's recipe for Murgh Handi. I tried the recipe substituting the chicken with paneer to make a Paneer Handi. Again, this recipe does not use too many spices and the Paneer Handi turned out just like from a restaurant.
I did make minor changes to the Paneer Handi recipe like adding the sautéed onion and capsicum to give that crunch and fragrance to it.

Paneer / Cottage Cheese - 250 gms
Pyaz / Onion - 1 medium, sliced
Adrak / Ginger - 1 tbsp
Lehsun / Garlic - 1tsp
Green Chilli - 1
Mirchi / Red chilli pwd - 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Kasuri Methi / Dry Fenugreek leaves - 1tsp
Desiccated Coconut pwd - 1tsp
Black Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tamatar / Tomato - 1 medium
Pyaz / Onion - 1 small
Simla Mirch / Capsicum - 1/4
Yogurt - 2tbsp
Cream - 3tbsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tsp 
Salt to taste
Slice the medium onion, julienne the ginger and garlic and chop the green chilli and coriander leaves. Blanch the tomato, peel skin off and chop it.
Slice the paneer and lightly roast it on both sides and dice into 1 inch pieces.
Slice the small onion into thick pieces and dice the capsicum into 1 inch pieces. In a lightly oiled pan sauté the onions and capsicum till translucent and keep aside.

Heat oil and add the onion when hot. Sauté till light golden and then add half the ginger and garlic juliennes. Sauté  till the raw smell of the ginger and garlic goes. Add the cumin powder and the red chilli powder and sauté. Add the tomatoes, green chilli,  and salt and a little water and mix. Once softened add the black pepper, garam masala, desiccated coconut and dry fenugreek leaves and the remaining ginger and stir it all well. Add the beaten yogurt and sauté till it dries up. Then add the whisked cream and stir it in. Add a little water and then add the sautéed onion and capsicum. Stir for a minute or so and add the paneer pieces. Garnish with coriander and take it off the heat.

If you would like to serve it in a handi, heat a little ghee in the handi and when hot add the prepared Paneer Handi into it. Garnish with a few leaves of coriander and a slit green chilli.
Serve hot with a Tandoori Roti.
1. Reduce the oil used in this dish by using a non stick pan. Heat only a spoon of oil initially when sautéing the onion, ginger and garlic after that sprinkle water to keep from sticking to the bottom.
2. Give the garam masala a miss, it does not change the taste much.
3. Lightly roast the cumin seeds before powdering to give a nice flavor.

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