A mom’s recipe…

by Sunita on September 12, 2007

A week ago, we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. The parents of K, the lady of the house had come to visit from India. As soon as Dinesh knew about the invitation, his hopes were immediately raised for he was sure the food would be rustled up by K’s mom…of course, K herself does quite well in the kitchen, but she’s just been blessed with a cute little baby. Moreover there is the case, that the same food can reach great heights in experienced hands. Needless to say, we were, or should I say, Dinesh was, not in the least disappointed. And what a lovely spread it was. K’s family were vegetarians and her mom dished up one delightful dish after another.

This particular paneer recipe was the one that caught my attention. It tasted absolutely gorgeous. While still stuffing myself to my heart’s content, { what?…you don’t get to savour such delicacies , and that too whipped up by an experienced mom everyday, do you :-D } I asked her how she made it, to which she replied in that sort of candied manner …’Oh, it’s nothing special …just made a tomato sauce and dunked some paneer into it.’ Well, that’s all fine and good. But , I think, if I made ‘just a tomato sauce and dunked some paneer into it’, it would definitely not taste the same. I wanted to know ‘the real thing’ about it.

There were a few other guests and in all that noise, I kept losing K’s mom’s attention. Well, actually, trying to fill myself as well as gathering the recipe was becoming a bit stressful…what with everyone making a beeline to the table to refill their plates many times over… after all, we were all deprived souls, weren’t we :)

When things relaxed a bit, I firmly perched myself beside her and asked her how she went about it and I tried to remember all that she said. Before I forgot all about it, I gave it a go over the weekend. If you minus that special touch of K’s mom’s experienced hands, I must say, the dish came out pretty well, and we relished it all over again. The only thing that I didn’t add was a little ghee which K’s mom did at the end. The reason…I didn’t have any at the time and was too eager to try it out, to wait for a tblsp of ghee. And I also garnished it with a little chopped coriander. So here goes…paneer in a spicy tomato sauce…and thanks again to K’s mom for passing on the recipe…for it’s definitely not just some paneer in a red gravy!

What’s needed-

5-6 tomatoes, sliced
3 bay leaves
3 pods of cardamom, split three fourths of the way
2 stick cinnamon, about 1 inch in length
1 and 1/2 C of water
3 cloves
a paste made out of 3-4 pods of garlic, 1 and 1/2 inch of ginger ands 1 small onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 whole red chilli
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder (more or less according to heat tolerance )
250 gms of paneer, cubed or cut into bite sized rectangular pieces
3/4 th tsp garam masala powder
to taste
2-3 tblsp of oil
some chopped, fresh coriander leaves to garnish (optional)

How to-

  1. Boil the tomatoes in the water, along with 2 bay leaves, the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.( Heavenly aromas at this stage…)
  2. When the tomatoes are mushy, transfer them to a blender, along with all the juice and also all the whole spices ( including the bay leaves) in it, and make a smooth puree.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan.
  4. Add the cumin seeds, the third bay leaf and the whole red chilli.
  5. When the seeds start to pop, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste and stir over medium heat till the paste is lightly browned and the raw smell has left it.
  6. Add the tomato paste to the pan.( Watch out… there’s going to be some serious spluttering around!)
  7. Add the turmeric, cumin and chilli powders.
  8. Simmer, covered over low heat, till the sauce loses it’s watery texture ( approximately 10 minutes)
  9. Add the paneer and simmer for another few minutes till the sauce has thickened and is bubbly.
  10. Add the garam masala powder, season with salt, and simmer for another minute.
  11. Remove from heat, garnish with the chopped coriander.
  12. Serve hot with rotis or naans or as a side dish with rice.

The whole process may seem to be quite long when broken down, it’s not so in reality.We had our’s with some rotis and a fresh salad and it was heavenly indeed. The sauce, with the paneer was really gorgeous …fit to indulge for a leisurely weekend lunch .

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sunita September 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm

latha, you’re most welcome… I’m so glad you and your family liked it…isn’t the sauce lovely?


2 Sandeepa September 22, 2007 at 3:24 am

Hey made this today…came out superb. The ghee would do good I feel so am going to add a little tomorrow. Thank You :)


3 sunita September 22, 2007 at 9:14 am

sandeepa, you tried it too! Glad you liked it…and yes, the ghee does elevate it a bit higher, so go on and use it :)


4 Rachel October 26, 2007 at 5:13 pm

decided to try your recipe out..because it seemed different from the usual ones..turned out good….oh and there was a lot of sputtering!! Thanks for the warning though :)


5 delhibelle May 13, 2008 at 6:26 pm

this one needs to be bookmarked asap..Thanks !


6 Kay August 28, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Sunitha, We tried it out last weekend. I had it on my to-try out list for sometime..and we had a potluck – Punjabi/North Indian food was the theme. I was going to make it, but a dear friend asked me a north Indian recipe to try and I gave her this. Oh boy! It was amazing!

Thanks very much! :) It’s a keeper!


7 Anu November 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Tried this, and It turned out good. Separated half the tomato gravy and tried with firm tofu as well. It came out good as well. BTW, was the paneer meant to be fried before adding?
A big thanks!


8 Sunita November 21, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Anu, glad you liked it. And no, I did not fry the paneer; you can, if you want to, it’s just that I do not prefer it.


9 Lakshmi December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

This was on my to-do recipe list for a long time and finally made it yday. It turned out awesome! I dont make panner dishes often but this truly a keeper.


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