In our house, you could put any sauce on paneer and we would love it. My Best Paneer Malai is sweet, mildly spicy and so tasty.Jump to Recipe
As I have written before, I do not follow the traditional rules for paneer dishes. Almost all paneer dishes, just drop the paneer in the sauce. I choose to brown the paneer first. The browning adds texture, and I believe, enhances the flavor of the paneer. It also works like cooking a protein in the pan because some of the bits of the cheese are left in the pan and picked up by the sauce. As a total aside, my daughter sent me a video this morning on making your own paneer. It did not look too hard and I need to give it a try.
While the pictures may make this look like a lot of steps and ingredients, the execution is pretty straightforward. After the pan fry of the paneer, the paneer is set aside. Then the onions, peppers and initial spices are added to the wok. After softened, the tomatoes and cashews are added (you have to soak the cashews for a couple of hours). After these are cooked down, they are added to a blender and turned into a sauce. This sauce serves as the base of the dish.
The sauce is returned to the wok to cook down. More spices are added to deepen the flavor. Then, kale is wilted in the sauce followed by adding cooked red lentils. The pan fried paneer is added back in to bring it up to temperature. The final addition is some fresh cilantro. Cilantro is used in Indian cooking as much as it is in Mexican cooking. Before we get into the recipe, let me share a few of my favorite paneer recipes.
Building the malai curry.Jump to Recipe
The Best Paneer Malai plated.
Best Paneer Malai
The key to any Indian dish is the sauce. The sauce adds all the depth of flavor. My Best Paneer Malai has texture and great flavor.
- 1 Package Paneer
- 1 Whole Yellow onion diced
- 3 Whole Tomatoes diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic roughly chopped
- 2 whole Cloves
- 4 Inches Cinnamon
- 2 Whole Thai chilies diced
- 3 Inches Fresh ginger grated
- 1 Cup Cashews soaked
- 1 Cup Red Lentils
- 1/2 Whole Lemon juiced
- 1 Bag Spinach
- 14 Ounces Coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp Coconut oil
- 2 Pods Green Cardamon
- 2 Tsp Turmeric
- 2 Tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 Tsp Garam masala
- 2 Tsp Chili powder
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Bunch Cilantro rough chopped
Begin by melting 1 tbsp of the cocounut oil in a wok. Once melted, add the paneer and brown a top and bottom (I know there is not really a top and bottom – but there is a flat side). Cook in batches, and when complete, remove from pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils according to the box instructions. Set aside.
Make the Gravy. Add the cinnamon sticks to spice grinder and break up into small pieces. Then add the green cardamom pods, cloves, and cumin seeds and break up a bit more. You don’t need to fully grind them, just a little to start releasing their oils.
Add the remaining coconut oil and once melted, add the ground spices and cook for about 1 minute. Add the onions and sweat for 4 – 5 minutes. Next, add in the green chilies, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Now add the diced tomatoes and cook down for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the cashews and the salt. Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is mostly cooked out.
Add this mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and coconut milk and blend well. Add the mixture back to the wok. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Add in the remaining spices and simmer for 2 minutes. Now add in the spinach and wilt for 1 – 2 minutes. Follow by adding in the cooked lentils and stirring well. Next, add back in the paneer and mix. Simmer for 1 minute to re-warm the paneer. Finish by adding the cilantro.
Serve with white rice. Enjoy!
Adapted from Rainbow Plant Life – https://rainbowplantlife.com/restaurant-style-vegan-malai-kofta/#wprm-recipe-container-5655