So here it comes. The Friday afternoon. With all its charm and glory, luring me into going to home and cook something comforting, indulgent and yet fuss free. I just want to loosen up and spend most of the time till mid night, tucked in duvet sipping a cuppa. I am always looking for the recipes which fulfil the above criteria and yet doesn’t make my waistline scream. Paneer comes really handy in that case.
Its only this week, that I had posted the recipe for Tawa Paneer on the blog. This recipe for Paneer bhurji is another quick and indulgent paneer dish which is loved by everyone. It is present on every North Indian restaurant’s menu, each one serving their own recipe. This one is inspired from a roadside dhaba vendor, located nearby College. After the classes, me and friends used to visit the dhaba for a quick bite and often used to end up eating the whole meal. The owner was very generous and served in good quantities. His Paneer bhurji was my favourite, with lots of chopped onions and tomato bits added to it. And the way he used to do a special tadka with ghee, just before serving… was just out of this world. That mixed up with awesome taste, joyful ambience, and company of friends… has made this dish quite special for me.
I make this quite often, sometimes adding vegetables to it so I can feed them to my fussy husband. He can eat anything if I mix it with paneer. I am serious. That’s how I started giving him spinach. Making Palak paneer every week, gradually increasing the quantity so he develops the taste. He still doesn’t like spinach that much, but at least now eats it without much qualms.
S loves it with plain, hot Parathas for breakfast. But I can have it with simple phulka roti, with a dollop of ghee smeared on them. You may also add some raita on the platter to go with it or some simple dal to complete the meal. All this can be done in less than half an hour in kitchen if planed well=, and you are in for an awesome treat for dinner.
What do you do if the paneer is too hard to be mashed up by hands, and you don’t have the time to thaw it? I have even seen people chopping the paneer small to prepare Bhurji. But then that doesn’t make it bhruji, does it! If you face the same issue, here are some tips which would help you in getting the softest paneer dishes ever:
If you are taking paneer straight out of refrigerator and its still hard- Fill water in a large mixing bowl and microwave it on full power for 3-4 minutes. Keep paneer in that water for 5 more minutes, by the time you chop other vegetables for the curry. Paneer will be soft enough in 5 min to be cut by a standard knife. For better results, cut the brick into 3-4 pieces and then micro it.
So now you want to mash the paneer and its still a bit hard for that- Churn it in a blender. Yes! Pulse it in a chutney/smoothie jar 2-3 times and its coarsely pieced for your use. If you don’t have a blender handy, grate it using a vegetable grater. Never, ever make Paneer bhurji by chopping the paneer. Its just not bhurji!!
When cooking paneer (be it bhurji or any other dish), adding 2-3 tbsp of milk and cooking it covered will keep the paneer super soft. I mostly make paneer dishes in a small pressure cooker unless the recipe doesn’t allow me to do that. Keep it covered till you actually serve, and its always best to reheat it before serving.
What you need?
- 2 cups of paneer, mashed up, grated or churned in a blender ** see notes above (that would be about 350-400 gms paneer)
- 2 tomatoes, chopped small
- 2 large onions, chopped small
- A small piece of ginger, grated or chopped fine
- 2-3 green chilies, chopped small
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 1-2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp dry mango powder
- 1 ½ tsp Garam masala
- 1 ½ tsp salt OR to taste
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 handful of cilantro (coriander leaves), rinsed and chopped
- A small pinch of cardamom powder (optional)
- 2 tbsp oil
Heat oil in the wok/pan. Crackle cumin seeds, and once it splutter, add bay leaves. Fry for 10 seconds and then add grated ginger and green chili. Let it fry for 15 seconds and then add in chopped onion. Cook for about 5-7 minutes till they turn slightly golden pink
Add in tomatoes now, along with all the spices (except cardamom powder). Cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes till tomatoes get mushy and properly cooked.
Add in grated paneer and mix well, coating evenly with the masala paste. Cover and let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
Open, and add cardamom powder and milk. Stir well and cook further for 3-4 minutes. Turn off, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
Accomplishments – Plain paratha, raita , roti, vegetable rice etc.
I don’t add garlic to this dish since I want bhurji to be more about paneer and less garlic. Although I adore garlic and use it everything and anything else. You may take your pick.
Don’t get put off by the long list of spices. I usually just throw everything together in a small bowl and then mix it with the curry. No need to measure them and keep separately when we have to chuck everything in the curry together anyway.
You could puree the tomatoes instead, to get a smoother texture. I like the coarse bits coming in so I have left it chopped. Same goes with the ginger pieces, you could add paste instead of grated or chopped pieces.
Take care not to blend the paneer too much in the blender or it will get all lumpy. Just pulse it once or twice (only if it is hard). If the paneer is fresh and soft, simply crush it between your palms roughly or gently grate it.
Another one of my favourite Paneer dish which can be made under 20 minutes is this-