I love Paneer in all forms and what not to like about the Kashmiri cuisine. The culture of the region is so evident in their cuisine. Most of the curries in this cuisine uses minimal onion, garlic rather more hot spices like fennel, garlic owing to the cold temperatures there. This is one simple dish and is easy to be made and yes, can be made for fancy dinner events too.
Find the recipe below and definitely pair it with naan, parathas or simple jeera rice (cumin flavoured rice).
Kashmiri Paneer Masala
In a bowl, soak the paneer triangles in 500 ml warm water and set aside for atleast 15 minutes.
In a frying pan heat oil and fry the cubes of paneer in batches until golden brown. The heat needs to be on medium to avoid the paneer from spluttering. Drain on kitchen paper and add the fried paneer to the bowl of warm water. Let it soak while the curry is made. This helps the paneer to retain its moisture and stay soft.
In a pan add 2 tbsp oil and temper asafoetida and let it sizzle for few seconds. After 10 seconds on low flame, add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, bay leaves.
Fry the spices for a minute as they begin to splutter and release their flavour into the oil. Add the shahi jeera and fry for 2-3 seconds.
In the same pan, add finely chopped tomatoes and grated ginger. Saute them well and ensure that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Add the chilli powder and fennel powder. Stir and fry for 2 minutes as they blend with the paste.
Add half to a cup of water to the pan (depending on the thickness of the gravy preferred) and bring to a boil. Let it boil of 5 minutes before adding the soaked paneer to the pan. At this stage add some more water as the paneer will soak up all the curry. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes without the lid.
Crush 2-3 strands of saffron into the gravy and whisk in the yoghurt. You don’t really need to cook the paneer but just make sure the gravy coats the pieces well. Season to taste.
Garnish it with fresh coriander leaves and serve it hot with naan or jeera rice.