Intro to Butter Paneer
Butter Paneer is a rich, creamy, cashew-based curry that’s hearty and satisfying! Paneer is a common ingredient in Indian dishes and is a firm cottage cheese that doesn’t melt upon heating like other cheeses. The texture resides somewhere between a block of firm cheese and tofu.
How to Get the Perfect Creamy Texture:
The key to the perfect butter paneer is mastering the creamy texture which comes primarily from the cashews in this dish. To ensure that the cashews add the right texture, it’s important to let the cashews simmer in the dish for 25-30 minutes. This will help them soften up so when we blend the sauce/curry with our immersion blender, the cashews will emulsify a lot easier. You also have the option to let the cashews soak overnight to make this process even easier.
QUICK TIP: If you don’t have an immersion blender, feel free to use a regular blender instead. However, make sure the mixture has completely cooled down before popping it into your blender!
QUICK TIP: After blending your mixture, ensure that you strain the mixture through a sieve. Don’t skip this step even though it may seem tedious! You will get the perfect restaurant-quality texture after doing this simple step.
Place the mixture into the sieve and scrape it through with a metal or wooden spoon until only the cashew pulp is left; you’ll be left with a perfectly creamy texture.
Alternatives to Cream:
Another key component to making butter paneer is adding the cream. I like to add some during the cooking process and also on top before serving. However, if you don’t like using cream, you can substitute cream with canned coconut milk. It’s important to use canned coconut milk (preferably full fat) to add the right thick creaminess to this dish. Using the type of coconut milk that comes in a boxed container just won’t taste right in my experience.
QUICK TIP: Shake your canned coconut milk to combine the coconut cream and milk in the can that often separates. Usually the thick cream naturally separates and floats to the top of the can. So, it’s important to shake it up so you’re not just left with watery coconut milk at the bottom.
Veganize this Dish:
You can also veganize this dish if you’d like! The coconut cream that I mentioned earlier will be the perfect vegan substitute for regular cream; and, paneer can be substituted with baked tofu. I usually bake my tofu at 350 degrees for 30 minutes when I use it in a dish like this. Just chop the tofu into cubes and spread apart on parchment paper before placing into the oven.
- 3 tbsp Butter (I used vegan earth balance butter)
- 1 c Onions Finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Ginger Crushed/finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Garlic Finely chopped
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1.5 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 1 1/4 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Fenugreek Leaves
- Salt (To taste)
- 1 c Pureed Canned Tomatoes
- 25 Cashews
- 1/2 c Cream (Use coconut cream for vegan version)
- 300 grams Paneer (Approximately)
- 1 tsp Sugar (Optional)
- 1 c Water
- Start by sautéing your onions in the butter until they they turn translucent. Make sure to keep your heat on medium.
- Add in your chopped garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so.
- Add in your garam masala, chili powder, cumin powder, fenugreek leaves, and turmeric and cook for another minute. You may want to turn the heat slightly down to make sure the spices don't burn. Cook until aromatic.
- Add in canned tomatoes, salt, and cashews. Let simmer for for 5-7 minutes.
- Add in water, bring to simmer, cover your mixture with a lid, and let cook for 25-30 minutes. Make sure to keep checking on the mixture every 5 minutes or so to give it a stir and ensure it doesn't stick/burn.
- Wait for the mixture to cool down, and then mix with an immersion blender, or pop into a regular blender. Do not pour a hot mixture into your blender!! It has to be fully cooled.
- Strain your blended mixture through a sieve to remove all excess cashew pulp.
- Add in your cream, paneer, and sugar, and extra water if needed.
- Let mixture simmer for another 10 minutes until paneer is nice and soft.
- Garnish with cilantro and more cream.