Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homemade Paneer Tikka Masala and Some Stories

On my birthday last year, DFJ gave me an iPad. I’m very stingy and would never buy any technology thingamajigs, so I always just tell myself it is not necessary in order to not have the desire to own these gadgets. An iPad wasn’t even something I wished to own and never dropped hints that I wanted one, but that was my present. He had to make me work for it though by making a birthday present treasure hunt. By treasure hunt, I’m talking about a really awesome one, in fact, it was so much fun that when I finally found my present, it was almost a letdown because I wanted more hunting.

Because of my iPad, I have discovered a love for internet surfing… to be more specific, food blog perusing and found so many blogs I love. I have mentioned a couple already on my posts, but there’s more. This recipe I’m sharing today would not be possible if not for these ladies I will be talking about below. I have created a really awesome dish that made DFJ tell me he loves me at the dinner table.

After work on Tuesday, I made homemade paneer. Man, it is so incredibly easy you wouldn’t even believe it. I did exactly what Miss Kiran Srivastava instructed and bam, paneer!

 Uh, my pictures are not as lovely as hers… but yeah, I hung the cheese cloth on the cabinet handle… unclassy, but what can you do with limited space? Gotta be resourceful!

DFJ and I talk about food a lot… well, I talk about it a lot and he talks about politics, science, puzzles, and out of this world ideas that I think he should sell. But one day, we were talking about tikka masalas and how I’ve always wanted to try the paneer one. He yelled in excitement, “I love paneer!” So, I made a promise in my head to make him paneer tikka masala when I find paneer at the store. But never would I have thought to make my own, until this woman showed me how.

Well now, the paneer is ready… what about the tikka masala sauce? I wanted the thick, orangey-reddish kind, full of flavorful spices, and found inspiration from this beautiful dish. Asmita has a collection of great Indian food that I cannot wait to try. It was already Thursday, three days since I made the paneer, so the tikka masala had to be made. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients that Asmita’s recipe called for, so I did what I could with what we had.

The result was simply amazing. The paneer’s nice and soft texture allowed it to soak up the creamy sauce that had a fine, sweet tinge and bursting with flavor from the different spices.

Spicy hot and delicious!

Paneer Tikka Masala (Makes 6 servings)

Spice Mixture
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp turmeric
scant ½ tsp cardamom, crushed
¼ tsp salt

Blended Sauce Mixture
1 tbsp salted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
3 small carrots, chopped
¼ of a red bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeno, diced
5 small, dried, red chilis, crushed
2 fresh roma tomatoes, diced
1, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp olive oil
blended sauce mixture
1 bay leaf
2 tsp fenugreek, roasted and crushed (*see note below)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup plain yogurt, nonfat (low fat/whole, ok)
homemade paneer, all of it cut in cubes

In a small bowl, put all the ingredients in the spice mixture and stir together.

In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots and cook for 1 minute. Add the chilis and cook for 30 seconds. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and stir well. Then, throw the spice mixture in and let cook for about 12 minutes, stirring often to make sure all the flavors blend well together. Move pan away from heat and let cool for 15-30 minutes. When the sauce is cool enough, blend/puree in a blender or food processor.

*Note on roasting fenugreek seeds:
While the sauce mixture is cooling, roast the fenugreek seeds. First, heat a small, nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot enough, roast the fenugreek seeds for a minute and let cool for about 5 minutes. Crush the seeds as best you can with a mortar and pestle.

Pour olive oil in the same large pan the sauce was cooked in (don’t bother washing it) and turn the stove on medium heat.  When the pan is hot enough, pour in the blended sauce mixture and add the bay leaf. Let the sauce warm up again for about 4 minutes. Throw in the crushed, roasted fenugreek seeds and stir well for a minute. Add the sugar and stir well. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt. Add the cubed paneer and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure to stir very gently so as not to crush the paneer. Turn off the stove and move the pan away from heat.

Move the oven wire rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Transfer the paneer tikka masala into an ovenproof, glass bakeware and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve warm over basmati rice, or eat with some naan or chapati. 

What's your favorite paneer dish?


  1. Holy yum! That looks so good :)

    And thanks a lot for trying and linking to the recipe. So proud of you as it turned out so great :)

  2. A birthday treasure hunt, totally up my alley. And an iPad at the end of it?! Wow.

    This looks so good! I've always wanted to try making my own cheese. One of these days.

  3. I really want to try my hand at homemade paneer! This sounds delicious!

    1. It is so worth it... hardly any effort either... :)

  4. the bday treasure hunt sounds like so much fun, i love such creative gift ideas makes that bday so much more special :) the tikka masala looks really good, the deep orange colour is spot-on & awesome work with the paneer

    1. It was so much fun! I loved how he thought about places to hide clues in a teeny weeny apartment!

  5. Wow that looks like an everything but the kitchen sink kind of a meal! I'm impressed with the paneer! Would love to give that a try, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Stephanie... do give it a try! It's quite simple!

  6. I've never made a paneer before, but I love chicken tikka masala and chana masala!

    1. I love chicken tikka masala and chana masala too! I've never had the paneer one before until I made this.

  7. Lovely post. If you like chicken, you might like my take on Sichuan chicken. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/my-take-on-sichuan-chicken.html

    1. I love chicken and I will check it out! Thanks for sharing!


Let me know what your thoughts are... Your comments always make my day!