Well, hello there! And this time, from the City of Dreams, Vienna.
It is uncanny how this city, until a few months back, was just a Billy Joel song I would listen to while my nose stayed buried under the mammoth client files on my desk, while burning away scores of bottles of midnight oil, in Mumbai or maybe, just another city that crept in to my must-visit list in an eternal attempt to relive life on the streets painted by a Woody Allen movie. However, today, as I sit by the window in our homey little apartment, at our round wooden dining table, watching the cold rain outside commemorating the impending arrival of Winter, realization dawns on me, that this is now my home.
As a person who, for all practical purposes, takes one day (sometimes, an hour) at a time, I cannot say that life turned out to be different from what I had expected. Possibly because, I seldom have expectations; out of anything. (And this happens to be the most treacherous area in my relationship with the Boy, who would, at this moment, have a fair idea of what he would be doing on the 22nd of April, 2028 and in all likelihood has a calendar entry in that regard. Talk about two ends of the same pole.) Hence, Vienna happened as a fortunate stroke of serendipity and that I feel, is the beauty of it all.
Anyway, getting down to business. Since I start working in only another week or two, I have had sufficient time on my hands to get down to doing two things I love the most; cooking and eating. I realize that it does take a fair bit of time for one, to get used to the ingredients that is available in a certain part of the world that one is not used to. I still haven’t gotten my head round the freshness and quality of the produce that is available in this part of the world; let it be fruits, vegetables, or even meat for that matter.
The Boy is possibly the biggest fan of Butter Chicken and has been after my life for a few years now, with an incessant request to cook him some Butter Chicken or Paneer Butter Masala. And north Indian cuisine, not being familiar territory, my procrastinating tendencies came to play. However, I gathered all courage and decided to work it all out in my head before I proceeded on to cooking a Paneer Butter Masala. There happens to be a paradox in this recipe and that will be divulged at the very end. So, here you go.
Things you will need:
- Paneer- 250 gms
- Ripe tomatoes- 4 large
- Cashew nuts- 20 (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
- Chilly powder- 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
- Ginger garlic paste- 1 teaspoon
- Garam masala powder- 2 pinches
- Cooking oil
How to go about it:
First step would be to make a smooth puree of the tomatoes. Keep that aside.
Next, make a smooth paste of the cashew nuts with a bit of water. The aim would be to achieve the consistency as shown in the picture below. Too much water, no fun.
Heat two table spoons of cooking oil in a wok. Add to it the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the oil becomes fragrant and the raw smell goes away.
Next you would want to add the tomato puree to the oil. Sauté for about five minutes and the proceed on to adding the chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt.
This mixture needs to be sautéed till the water content disappears and and oil starts to ooze out from the sides. You would also need to ensure that the raw smell of the tomatoes has also gone away because that can be a total dampener to the end product. Take a look at the pictures below.
Next step is to add the cashew paste to the masala mixture. Mix well, make sure there are no lumps formed, using a spoon.
Add one glass of water to the mixture, mix thoroughly, keep the wok closed. The cashews cook really fast. Keep the wok closed for not more than five minutes.
Open the lid, and make sure you arrive at the desired consistency for the gravy, right before you add the paneer pices to the gravy. Paneer takes no more than three minutes to cook and over cooked paneer resembles Nataraj erasers.
Add the paneer pieces, cook for another three minutes. Take the wok off the stove.
I had plans of adding half a cup of cream to this. However, I did not, since I arrived at the desired taste, colour and consistency even without the cream. I used a teaspoon of cream to garnish the dish right before serving.
Kindly enjoy your Paneer Butter Masala with some hot Rotis, or garlic Naans. 😀
And here’s a snap of the same dish, fifteen minutes later. If this is not impetus enough for you guys to take a shot at this supremely easy recipe, I don’t know what is! :-/
PS: I am pretty certain that you have by now figured what the paradox is. Yep, you are right, my Paneer ‘Butter’ Masala does not use any butter. 😐 Well, that cannot be a bad thing, especially if you have gone ahead and paid some fancy bucks at a fancy gym like we have. 😀