Akbari Paneer is a popular Mughlai Delicacy – a dish true to its royal name. It consists of shredded paneer in rich and creamy sauce/gravy made of cashews, evaporated milk and aromatic spices. This is a finger licking vegetarian recipe with red and green bell peppers, tomatoes and onions which will leave you wanting more. It has that gourmet touch to it and should be enjoyed hot with parathas, tandoori roti or naan with a side of raita.
You can cook and prepare the gravy/sauce a day in advance and add the grated paneer on the day of serving to ease up the cooking process.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup grated paneer
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
- 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
- 15-20 cashews
- 3 medium tomatoes, pureed
- half red bell pepper, chopped in cubes
- half green bell pepper, chopped in cubes
- evaporated milk, half can
- 1.5 tbsp butter
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp honey
- salt, to taste
- 1.5 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 to 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp kasuri methi
- lemon juice, to taste
- 2 tbsp milk
- 4-5 saffron strands
- handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Whole Garam Masala – 1 bay leaf, 3 cloves, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, 2 Green cardamoms, 1 black big cardamom, 1 star anise (Use whatever you have. If you skip a few here it doesn’t really matter)
Here’s what you do:
- Grate the paneer. Boil water and add the grated paneer. Let it boil for 2 minutes for the paneer to soften. Take out and strain it. Keep aside. (Boiling paneer in water is optional. If you are short on time or want to save the extra effort, you can use the grated paneer directly)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of milk, add saffron strands, keep it aside.
- Heat butter/oil. Add all the ingredients listed under whole garam masala, sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes on medium heat, until they are translucent.
- Add in the ginger, garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add salt, garam masala, red chili powder and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, cashews. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Once the gravy is slightly cooler, remove the whole garam masala and blend the mixture to make a smooth gravy adding in evaporated milk little by little.
- Return it to the pan. Make a well in the center and add some butter. Sauté the bell peppers for about 2-3 minutes and mix the whole thing. (You can leave out the bell peppers all together from this recipe, but i love the flavor red bell pepper adds in).
- Add lemon juice.
- Then add honey, dried crushed kasuri methi, soaked saffron and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- At this point, you can let the gravy cool down and store it in the refrigerator if you plan to use it the next day.
- If you plan to use it the same day, this is when you add in the grated paneer and mix.
- Garnish it with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.
- Serve hot with either tandoori roti, parathas or naan along with a side of raita.
Variation: You can also choose to add the red and green bell pepper after the step of sautéing the onions, ginger and garlic for 5-7 min and then sautéing the whole thing for a couple more minutes. But then you’ll have to take out the bell peppers along with the whole garam masalas before making the gravy. This adds a bit of complexity of removing and then re-adding the bell peppers but it imparts a great flavor mixed with the onions, ginger and garlic. I used this method but you are free to use the method I listed above for convenience.