An avid carnivore, my daughter Mohona loves paneer, the only vegetarian fare she finds delicious. She often says that she can eat as much paneer (cottage cheese) as we can dish out and in whatever form. Among the various preparations – paneer in thick tomato gravy and malai paneer possibly feature at the very top of her list of favourites. And somehow, it is an unspoken expectation at our home that the former would be prepared by her mother, Anindita while the latter is a signature dish of mine.
Now, I can prepare this particular dish (malai paneer) with just a few simple ingredients that are almost always available at home.
Paneer – 500 gm.
Milk – 200 ml.
Fresh cream (optional) – 2 to 3 tablespoon
Oil – 1 tablespoon. Ghee (optional) – 1 teaspoon
Cardamom – 4 pieces
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Clove – 4 pieces
Bay leaf – 1 piece
Onion – small one in paste form
Chilli (optional) – 2 to 3 in paste form
Kasuri Methi – one tablespoon
Cut the paneer into small cubes and soak them in water at room temperature, to keep them soft.
Heat white oil or ghee in the pan.
Add the whole spices and gently stir for few minutes.
Add the onion and chilli paste and fry it for about 5 mins or till the raw smell of the onion disappears. Chilli paste is optional here. If you do not like to make it hot, simply skip it.
Add the milk. Once it starts boiling reduce the flame of the oven and add the paneer chunks. Add salt and sugar according to taste. (Personally, I prefer the dish to be a bit on the sweeter side.) Let the milk evaporate till it is reduced to half the original quantity, stirring occasionally.
Optionally, add 2 to 3 tablespoon of fresh cream and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Fresh cream ensures a creamy texture to the dish.
(However, the quality of milk that we get from our milk vendor is quite good; hence, I often do not feel the need to add fresh cream and conveniently skip the resultant extra calorie.)
Put off the flame and add a palmful of crushed kasuri methi to it and mix everything well.
Finally, for a heavenly aroma, spread just a teaspoon of melted ghee (clarified butter) from the top. The weight watchers can skip this step.