No Meat Zone Recipes: Cottage Cheese Masala

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VEGETARIAN (easily veganized)

Paneer is a special food item in North Indian cuisine. Paneer (cottage cheese) with its delicate milky flavor is used all over India to make delicious dishes. Available at most supermarkets in block form or even as curds, it readily takes on the flavor of the spices in which it is cooked.

Paneer is a good source of calcium, which in later years helps to prevent osteoporosis. Cheese provides 25% of the calcium in the food supply. Paneer in moderation, is associated with lower body weight as well as reduced risk of developing insulin resistance syndrome.

Please note vegans can make similar dish with firm tofu.

Serves 3-4

To make paste
2 large tomatoes
1 onion
4 dry red chilis
Handful of coriander leaves
Few curry leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 piece of ginger
(Add all of above ingredients in food processor and blend to a smooth paste)

To make the masala
200 ml soy bean oil
500g Paneer cut into cube sizes
1 tsp of each cummin and mustard seeds
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder

200g low fat yoghurt / 200ml full cream milk
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves. Can be bought in Indian grocery stores. It's sold in packets)
Salt to taste


Heat oil in a large pan, deep fry paneer cubes, till they are slightly golden. Drain them using slotted spoon, let them dry in kitchen towel.

Heat 2-3 tbsp of the remaining oil and stir in ground paste for 4-5 minutes till raw smell evaporates. When the paste starts to change color add fennel, mustard seeds stir for few more minutes.

Add curry powder, chili powder, tomato puree stir well. Mix yoghurt till it forms into a creamy gravy. When the gravy starts simmering add paneer, garam masala, kasuri methi and salt to taste.

If you like green peas you may add 100g thawed green peas with paneer. First photo I've added green peas.

Paneer Masala is best to serve with biryani and raita (Salad made with yoghurt, onion and green chili) or roti / naan/ paratha.

Stay tuned for future post on Paneer Tikka Masala....

Ami is a small time home cook, whose passion for cooking was ignited when she was 12 years old. Since then she has been on a long culinary journey, drawing inspirations from her mom's scrumptious cooking, watching TV cook-shows, reading cook books and experimenting in her kitchen. Visit Ami's Vegetarian Delicacies for more information.

Photo credit: Ami

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