I am a huge fan of paneer, it being an ingredient I grew up with and have always loved; the fresh Indian cheese is a regular choice for vegetarian nights in our house. This Paneer Do Pyaza recipe is from Chetna’s Indian Feasts by Chetna Makan and features onions and shallots alongside the paneer.
Read our comprehensive review of Chetna’s Indian Feasts for more about the book.
Try it with the firmer style of ready-made paneer from the shops or have a go at making your own paneer, which is often a little softer and crumblier.
Paneer Do Pyaza
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 10 baby shallots
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
- 450 g (1lb) paneer, cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) cubes
For the curry
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2.5 cm (1-in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 200 ml (7fl oz) water
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 100 ml (3½fl oz) natural yogurt
- 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan and add the shallots.
Cook over a medium–low heat for 6–8 minutes until the shallots are nicely softened. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Put the salt, turmeric, chilli powder and remaining oil into a bowl and mix well. Now add the paneer cubes to the bowl and coat them well in the spices. Put the paneer cubes into the hot pan you used to cook the shallots and cook over a medium–low heat for 1–2 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Add the paneer to the bowl with the shallots.
Return the pan to the heat as you’ll now be cooking the curry in it. Set it over a medium–low heat, add the oil and butter and, once hot, add the cumin seeds and the whole spices to the pan. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onions. Cook over a medium–low heat for 8–10 minutes until the onions are golden. Next, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute.
Now stir in the tomatoes along with half the measured water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until the onions are completely cooked down and the oil is pooling at the sides of the pan.
Stir all the spices into the pan, then take it off the heat. Add the yogurt and remaining water and stir for a few seconds, then return the pan to the heat. Add the fenugreek leaves and the shallots and paneer, then mix well.
Cover the pan with the lid and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until the shallots and paneer are heated through. Serve immediately.
We used ready-made paneer but were pleased that it was a touch softer and crumblier than the usual ready-made kind, closer in texture to home-made. But to be honest, this dish is so delicious, it will work beautifully with whatever paneer you use.
This recipe is extracted from Chetna’s Indian Feasts: Everyday meals and easy entertaining with perission from publishers Hamlyn. Book photography by Nassima Rothacker. Home-cooked photos by Kavita Favelle.