Toor Dal Fry| Dhaba Style Dal Fry

Dal Fry refers to a lentil gravy that is very popular in Indian restaurants, especially the dhabas of North India. It is an absolutely delicious dish, full of brilliant flavours, and makes for a beautiful accompaniment to rotis and rice alike. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Dhaba Style Dal Fry.

Dhaba Style Dal Fry

What goes into Dal Fry?

The principal component of Dal Fry is mostly toor dal, while there may be other lentils added in at some times. The dish gets its name from the sauteed onions and tomatoes (‘fried’ in common parlance) that go into it – though there is really no deep-frying involved here.

Dal Fry is usually mildly spiced, with a bit of garam masala, lemon juice and kasoori methi greatly adding to it. However, it is the special tempering added to it that elevates the Dal Fry to a whole new level – mustard, cumin, garlic, curry leaves and a few other aromatics sizzled in ghee.

What is the difference between Dal Tadka and Dal Fry?

Both Dal Tadka and Dal Fry are popular dishes in Indian restaurants. The major components of both dishes are the same, but there is a difference in the way they are cooked, due to which the taste of both is completely different.

In Dal Tadka, the lentils are cooked along with the tomatoes and onions, after which it is salted, spiced and tempered. In Dal Fry, the tomatoes and onions are cooked separately and then mixed with the cooked lentils.

Different types of dal

I am a huge fan of different varieties of dal, and keep experimenting with various types at home. You might want to check out this Dal Moradabadi, Hyderabadi Khatti Dal, Maharashtrian Drumstick Dal, Gujarati Khatti Meethi Dal, Parikkai Pitla (a Tamilnadu version of sambar or dal), and Dal Dhokli.

Next up on my list is this Panch Phoron Dal that my fellow blogger Sujata ji has shared. Sujata ji‘s blog, Batter Up With Sujata, is a treasure house of unique baked goodies and Bengali recipes. I love the deep-red colour of this dal that Sujata ji has prepared with masoor dal and the Bengali five-spice mix called Panch Phoron.

How to make Dhaba Style Dal Fry

Making Dhaba Style Dal Fry at home is not very difficult. I have been fortunate enough to learn some dhaba-special dishes from a wonderfully talented cook in Delhi, such as this Aloo Matar Sabzi and Pakodewali Kadhi. This Dal Fry too I learnt from her, years ago, and have made countless times myself.

Here is how I go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup toor dal
  2. 1 medium-sized tomato
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Red chilli powder to taste
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  11. 1/2 teaspoon jaggery powder
  12. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  13. 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  14. 3/4 tablespoon kasoori methi

For tempering:

  1. 3/4 tablespoon ghee
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  7. 2 dry red chillies

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Step 5

1. Wash the toor dal well under running water. Drain out all the water. Place the washed and drained toor dal in a wide vessel.

2. Add in enough water to cover the toor dal completely. Keep the water about 1/2 inch above the dal. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 7-8 whistles or till the dal is completely cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Chop the tomato finely. Peel the ginger and onion, and chop them finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

4. Peel the garlic cloves. Pound them roughly using a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down fully, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash the cooked dal thoroughly. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Step 6, Below top right and bottom right: Step 7, Bottom left: Step 8

6. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the finely chopped onion and ginger and the slit green chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the onions start browning.

7. At this stage, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Also add in a bit of salt and a little water. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the tomatoes turn mushy.

8. Still keeping the flame at medium, add the cooked toor dal to the pan. Also add in about 3/4 cup water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the Dal Fry.

Top left: Step 9, Top right and below: Step 10, Above bottom right: Step 11, Bottom right: Step 12, Bottom left: Step 13

9. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, as well as the turmeric powder. Keep the flame at medium. Mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes.

10. Now, add the garam masala to the pan, along with the jaggery powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture starts thickening. Switch off gas when the mixture is still a bit runny, as it will thicken further with time.

11. Add in the finely chopped coriander at this stage. Rub the kasoori methi roughly between the palms of your hands and add it to the pan too.

12. Add in the lemon juice too. Mix well.

13. Lastly, we will do the tempering for the dal. Heat the ghee in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now, turn the flame down to medium and add in the cumin seeds, asafoetida, pounded garlic, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Let the ingredients stay in for a few seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn. When the garlic browns, switch off gas and add the tempering to the dal in the pan. Immediately cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, to seal the flavours of the tempering into the dal. Your Dal Fry is ready to serve after 15 minutes of keeping it closed. Serve it hot with rotis, parathas, naan or rice.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian, but it is not vegan (plant-based) due to the use of ghee. Using a plant-based oil instead of ghee in the tempering would make it vegan.

This Dal Fry is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a greater or lesser extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. To make this dish completely gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Also, do ensure that the garam masala you are using is gluten-free too.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure the toor dal is completely cooked, soft and mushy before proceeding to make the Dal Fry. There’s no need to soak the toor dal before cooking it, but you may if you want to.

2. I have used home-made garam masala here. You may use a store-bought version instead, too.

3. You may add some coriander powder to the Dal Fry, along with the garam masala. I usually skip this.

4. You may skip adding the jaggery if you don’t prefer it. Personally, I would definitely suggest using it, as it rounds off the other flavours nicely.

5. I have used ghee here in the tempering, which adds a beautiful taste to the Dal Fry. You may use oil instead, if you so prefer. Make sure none of the ingredients burn while doing the tempering.

6. Don’t forget to keep the Dal Fry closed for some time, after the tempering is done. This is very important to infuse the flavours of the tempering beautifully into the Dal Fry.

7. Adjust the amount of salt, red chilli powder, garam masala, green chillies, jaggery and lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.

8. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Dal Fry you require. The ideal consistency is thick, but not too thick, and definitely not watery.

9. I have used only toor dal to make the Dal Fry. You may mix in some masoor dal and/or moong dal too.

10. Some also add cinnamon and cloves to the tempering, along with the other ingredients mentioned above. I don’t.

11. If you want to keep the Dal Fry really mild or are, maybe, serving it to kids, you could skip the red chilli powder. The green chillies would add a mild heat to the dal in this case.

12. Some use the ‘dhungar‘ method with charcoal to infuse the Dal Fry with a smoky flavour. However, I avoid this.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Dabeli| Gujarati Dabeli Recipe

It is no secret that I adore Gujarati cuisine, the beautiful balance of mild heat, slight sweetness and perfect tartness that it manages to achieve. Dabeli ranks right up there in my list of most favourite dishes from the Gujarati cuisine. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Gujarati Dabeli, the way I make it.

What is Dabeli?

Dabeli is a sort of sandwich, if I may, with an absolutely delicious potato filling in between a ladi pav or bun. The filling, when made right, bursts with flavours, making the Dabeli a veritable treat to the tastebuds.

It is believed to have been invented by a certain Keshavji Gabha Chudasama of Mandvi in Kutch, Gujarat, in the 1960s. The Dabeli quickly became popular and, today, it is a famous street food that is available everywhere in Gujarat. Dabeli from Kutch – called Kutchi Dabeli – still manages to retain pride of place in the Indian culinary world. I grew up eating wonderfully delicious Dabeli off the streets of Ahmedabad.

There are many different components of Dabeli, which can be prepared well in advance. Once you have these components prepped and ready, assembling the Dabeli is a very simple affair.

The components of Dabeli

– A good Dabeli must have a very flavourful potato filling, as I was saying earlier. Traditionally, a freshly ground spice mix called Dabeli Masala is used in the filling – made using spices like coriander seeds, cinnamon, cumin and fennel, this masala is honestly the soul of the dish that makes all the difference to it. However, I have found that a mix of garam masala, chaat masala and amchoor powder works just as beautifully. If you want the real deal, make the Dabeli Masala at home (I’ll share the recipe shortly) or buy a brand like Badshah or a small home-grown one like Chandubhai Bhanushali online.

Soft ladi pav or buns constitute the outer covering of the Dabeli, the shell within which the potato filling is contained. Small-sized buns with a sweetish tinge to them are ideal, however don’t choose ones with tutti frutti, dried fruit or nuts in them. Slices of bread work in a pinch too, but using buns or pav is highly recommended.

Pomegranate seeds are absolutely crucial in Dabeli – for me, Dabeli cannot be Dabeli without them. The beautiful pink pearls not only add visual appeal to the dish, but also provide a crunch factor and elevate it by several notches with their sweet-sour taste.

Masala peanuts are another thing without which I simply cannot imagine Dabeli. To make masala peanuts, roast raw peanuts in some oil till crisp, then toss with salt and red chilli powder. Congress Kadlekai, widely available in shops in Bangalore, works just as well.

– There are three different types of chutneys that go into a typical Dabeli – 1. a spicy green chutney made using mint, coriander and green chillies, 2. a sweet chutney made using dates and tamarind, and 3. a pungent red chutney made using garlic. I do away with the red chutney altogether, as I use a generous amount of garlic in my green chutney itself. Also, I make my sweet chutney using tamarind and jaggery, minus the dates.

Fresh coriander, finely chopped onion and fine sev or omapodi (preferably the very thin variety that is also referred to as ‘nylon sev‘) are important toppings in a Dabeli. Try looking for the Garden brand of nylon sev – available in a few stores in Bangalore and online too, this is very fine sev that’s really brilliant in something like Dabeli.

– I have seen coconut being used in Dabeli, either freshly grated or the dried, powdered version. I often do away with the coconut entirely.

– Last, but not the least, good-quality salted butter is crucial, to toast the pav or buns used in making Dabeli. You may use a bit of oil instead too, but butter is what is really recommended. I use Amul or Akshayakalpa butter.

Gujarati Dabeli recipe

As you can see above, I have substituted a few ingredients traditionally used in Dabeli with different ones, to make my life easier. Hence, I do not insist that mine is a completely authentic recipe for Dabeli. However, I can definitely assure you that it tastes fabulous and is very, very close to the real deal from Gujarat.

Here is how I make the Dabeli.

Ingredients (for 6 dabeli):

For the filling:

1. 4 medium-sized potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)

2. 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds

3. 1/2 tablespoon oil

4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera)

5. Salt to taste

6. 3/4 teaspoon of garam masala

7. 1 teaspoon of amchoor powder

8. 1 teaspoon of chaat masala

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. Red chilli powder to taste

11. 2 tablespoons of sweet chutney or as needed

12. 2-3 tablespoons of masala peanuts or Congress kadlekai

13. 1 small onion, finely chopped

14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

For garnishing and serving:

1. Finely chopped onion, as required

2. Masala peanuts or Congress kadlekai, as required

3. Finely chopped coriander, as required

4. Pomegranate arils, as required

5. Sweet chutney, as required

6. Spicy green chutney, as required

7. Fine sev, as required

8. 6 ladi pav or small buns

9. Oil or butter, as needed to toast the pav or buns

Method:

1. We will start by preparing the filling for the Dabeli. Wash the potatoes clean, ensuring that no mud remains on them. Then cut all the potatoes into halves and place in a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover the potatoes fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and allow 4 whistles on a high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Once the pressure from the cooker goes down completely, get the cooked potatoes out. Drain out all the water from them – you may reserve this water for later use. Allow the cooked potatoes to cool down completely, then mash them.

3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Turn the flame down to low, and add in the mashed potatoes. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, chaat masala and amchoor powder. Mix well. Cook for a minute.

5. Now, add 2 tablespoons of sweet chutney to the pan or as needed. Still keeping the flame low, mix well. Then switch off gas. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Step 5

6. At this stage, add the finely chopped onion to the pan, along with the pomegranate seeds, masala peanuts and finely chopped coriander (as mentioned in the ingredients list above under ‘For the filling’). Mix everything well together, but gently. The potato filling for making the Dabeli is ready.

7. Now, we will start assembling the Dabeli. Toast the ladi pav or buns using some butter – if using buns, cut them into two from the middle, horizontally.

8. Spread a generous amount of the potato filling on the bottom part of one of the toasted pav/buns. Place some chopped onion, coriander, masala peanuts and pomegranate arils on top of the filling. Drizzle some spicy green chutney and sweet chutney on top of this. Close using the other half of the pav/bun. The Dabeli is ready. Serve immediately.

9. Use all the potato filling and pav/buns to prepare Dabeli in a similar manner.

Top left and right: Step 6, Centre left: Step 7, Centre right, Bottom left and right: Step 8

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich

Sandwiches are a huge favourite in India, a popular choice for breakfast, a working lunch, a tea-time snack or a light dinner. It is a common street-side food as well. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich, one of my most favourites. It is just the perfect weather for the rainy, overcast weather we are having here in Bangalore at the moment.

Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich

Can a Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich be healthy?

I believe sandwiches often wrongly get the rap for being junk food and unhealthy. Well, they can be healthy too, if you use the right sort of ingredients! Use a whole wheat bread (without added sugar if you please), loads of vegetables, non-processed butter and cheese, and a preservative-free (or home-made tomato ketchup), and they become relatively (if not completely) guilt-free.

That is exactly what I have done here, except for the cheese. I have used slices of DLecta’s Melto cheese here, which are processed, but super melt-y. Can you see it oozing out of the sandwich in the picture above? They are specially designed for easy melting, which makes them perfect for use in things like burgers and sandwiches. #NotSponsored

There are a few bakeries making preservative-free, whole wheat bread in Bangalore, and I used the one from Lluvia Bakery. I have used salted butter from Akshayakalpa and preservative-free tomato ketchup from Heinz. #NotSponsored

How to make Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich

Here is how I make the sandwich. It’s so easy to put together!

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches):

1. 8 slices of bread

2. Salted butter, as needed

3. Green chutney, as needed

4. 1 small onion

5. 1 small tomato

6. 1 small capsicum

7. 1 small seedless cucumber

8. 4 cheese slices

9. Tomato ketchup, as needed

10. Chaat masala, as needed, for garnishing

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

1. Peel the onion and chop into thin slices. Chop the tomato and cucumber into thin slices too. Remove stem, seeds and core from the capsicum and chop into thin slices too. Keep ready.

2. Spread butter on one slice of bread and green chutney on another.

3. Place a few slices of capsicum on top of the bread slice with chutney on it, keeping the chutney side up. Place a slice of onion on it, and a couple of slices of tomato on top of this. Arrange a few cucumber slices evenly on top of the other veggies.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom right and left: Steps 6 and 7

4. Place a cheese slice on top of the veggies.

5. Drizzle some tomato ketchup on top of the cheese slice, and some chaat masala on top of this.

6. Now, cover the sandwich using the slice of bread that is buttered, butter side down.

7. Grill the sandwich on a pan, till the tops turn brown and crisp. Take care to ensure that the sandwich does not burn. You could also use a sandwich maker to do so. Your Cheese Vegetable Grilled Sandwich is ready – serve it hot.

8. Use all the bread slices to prepare sandwiches in the same manner.

Other sandwich recipes I’m fond of

We are a sandwich-loving family, and I make many different types at home. There is a plethora of sandwich recipes on my blog, too. Take for example this Bombay Sandwich, this Cheese And Curried Babycorn Sandwich, this Subway-Style Veggie Delight Sandwich, these Bun Sandwiches made in 4 different ways, and this Hot & Sweet Sandwich.

While we are on the subject of sandwiches, I so want to try out this Chocolate Sandwich With Peanut Butter from Sasmita’s blog, First Timer Cook. I’m a huge fan of the chocolate sandwiches we get at Hari Super Sandwich in Bangalore, and this sounds quite similar!

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used whole wheat bread here. You can use any type of bread you prefer.

2. I have used slices of DLecta’s Melto cheese, but you may use any other variety instead too. You can use grated cheese instead of the slices I have used here, too.

3. Cucumber, onion, tomato and capsicum are the only vegetables I use in this sandwich. You may use boiled beetroot and/or potato, steamed sweet corn and olives too.

4. I have used home-made green chutney here. Head to this post for the recipe.

5. For sandwiches, I prefer using English/European cucumber – what is locally called ‘seedless cucumber’. This variety has very few or no seeds, is crisp and tasty and suits perfectly in a sandwich.

6. This recipe is completely vegetarian, but not vegan (plant-based). It is not gluten-free either.

7. I don’t cut off the edges of the bread slices, while making sandwiches. You may do so if you prefer.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Kathrikkai Podi Potta Curry| Brinjal Stir-Fry With Freshly Ground Spices

Kathrikkai Podi Potta Curry, a heritage dish from Tamilnadu, is what we are going to talk about in today’s post.

What is Kathrikkai Podi Potta Curry?

It refers to an eggplant stir-fry made using a freshly ground spice mix. The eggplants aka brinjals (‘kathrikkai in Tamil) are first sauteed in sesame oil, after which a few spices are roasted, ground (the ‘podi’) and added in – this takes the fragrance and flavour of the curry to new heights! I am not a huge fan of eggplant in curries, but this one is one of my eternal favourites! ❤️

Just how pretty do these long purple eggplants look?!

This curry is a big favourite at my place, with rice and sambar or rasam. My mom is an expert at making Kathrikkai Podi Potta Curry and, today, I am sharing her way of making this dish. Trust me, this is a real beauty – you must try it out.

#SideKaKamaal at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #SideKaKamaal, wherein the group members are showcasing different types of side dishes for rotis and/or rice.

Priya Vijaykrishnan of Sweet Spicy Tasty suggested the theme for this week. Her blog is a treasure house of heritage recipes from Tamilnadu, kid-friendly foods, and various dishes from international cuisines. I’m loving the look of the Chou Chou Kadalai Paruppu Kootu she has presented for the theme, a traditional Tamilnadu-style curry made using chayote and lentils. On my list of things to try out!

 

Here is how we make it. It is a simple recipe, prepared on the lines of the Vazhakkai Podi Potta Curry that I had shared some time ago.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 8-9 long eggplants
2. 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons oil
3. 3/4 tablespoon coriander seeds
4. 3-4 dry red chillies
5. 3/4 tablespoon urad dal
6. 1-1/2 tablespoons chana dal
7.A small piece of tamarind
8.1 teaspoon mustard seeds
9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
10. 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
11. Salt to taste
12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top left: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 4 and 5

1. Remove the tops from the brinjals. Chop them into small pieces.

2. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 15-20 minutes.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the coriander seeds, dry red chillies, urad dal and chana dal. Roast on medium flame till the ingredients turn fragrant and the dal starts changing colour. This should take about 2 minutes. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow the roasted ingredients to cool down fully.


4. When the soaked tamarind has softened, extract a thick paste from it.

5. Once the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, grind them together to a fine powder in a small mixer jar. Do not add any water.

Top left and right: Steps 6 and 7, Centre left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 10 and 11

6. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Now, add in the curry leaves and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the chopped brinjal to the pan.  Now, add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium.

8. Cook covered on medium flame for 4-5 minutes, or till the brinjal is completely cooked. Uncover in between to stir, and sprinkle very little water if required.

9. When the brinjal is cooked through, add the tamarind paste. Keep the flame medium. Mix well.

10. Now, add the spice powder we ground earlier, stirring constantly so that all of the brinjal is evenly coated with the powder.

11. Cook uncovered on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes, stirring intermittently. Your Kathrikkai Podi Potta Curry is ready – serve warm or at room temperature with rice and sambar or rasam.

Is this recipe vegan and gluten-free?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. However, it is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida (as most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, to a greater or lesser extent). If you want to make this curry gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use good, fresh and firm brinjals without any holes in them.

2. Adjust the number of dry red chillies you use depending upon how spicy you want the curry to be. Here, I have used a mix of the very spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies.

3. Sesame oil works best in this curry. However, in case you don’t have it, you may use coconut oil or any other oil of your preference.

4. Make sure the lentils and dry red chillies are well-roasted and have completely cooled down before grinding them. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn while roasting.

5. Make sure the brinjals are well cooked before adding in the freshly ground powder.

6. The tamarind is added to balance the slight bitterness that brinjals sometimes possess. Make sure the tamarind extract is thick and not watery.

7. I have used long, purple eggplants here. However, you may use any other variety you prefer.

8. Make sure all the pieces of eggplant are evenly coated with the spice powder.

9. You can grind the spice powder as fine or coarse as you prefer. We keep it mostly fine, with just a little bit of coarseness.

10. For best results, make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to make this curry.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

No-Cream Methi Malai Paneer| Methi Paneer

Methi Paneer or Methi Malai Paneer is a delicious North Indian-style gravy, a lovely accompaniment for rotis, naan, parathas and the like. Cottage cheese (paneer) is cooked in a flavourful, rich and creamy gravy with fenugreek greens (methi) in it. In today’s post, allow me to take you through the way I make Methi Paneer.

Methi Paneer or Methi Malai Paneer

A closer look at the Methi Paneer I make

Like most of my recipes, this Methi Paneer recipe too is simple at heart and doesn’t use very fancy ingredients – everything that goes in is commonly found in a typical Indian kitchen. I have tried to keep processed ingredients to a minimum, in an endeavour to keep it healthier. This gravy turns out creamy and delicious, in spite of the fact that I have not used any fresh cream in it. I have used minimal oil in it, too.

This recipe is completely vegetarian and gluten-free, but NOT vegan (plant-based). I have used home-made garam masala and chana masala here, both of which are gluten-free. In case you are using store-bought spice blends, do check the list of ingredients and make sure they align with your dietary requirements.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is run by a group of passionate food bloggers. Every month, the group members share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The participants are paired up, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, which are then used to prepare a dish that fits into the theme for the month.

The theme this month is ‘Fear Not The Bitter’, suggested by Seema of Mildly Indian. Participants need to showcase recipes made using bitter-tasting ingredients like coffee, bitter gourd, fenugreek leaves and seeds. You guys should absolutely check out the amazing Karele Ka Bharta that Seema has made for the theme!

I was paired with Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen for the month, and gave the two secret ingredients of ‘tamarind’ and ‘jaggery’. She used them to make this wonderful, wonderful Kakarakaya Pulusu or Andhra-Style Bitter Gourd Gravy! Aruna gave me ‘turmeric’ and ‘fenugreek leaves’ as my secret ingredients, which I went on to use in this Methi Paneer recipe.


Other paneer dishes on my blog

You might also be interested in some other paneer recipes on my blog:

Paneer Butter Masala

Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Beetroot And Paneer Cutlets

Paneer Masala Dosa

Shahi Paneer Matar

Matar Paneer

Paneer Paratha

Palak Paneer

No-Fry Paneer Kofta

Mixed Vegetable And Paneer Dosa

Baked Mango Cheesecake

Orange-Infused Sweet Paneer

How To Make Methi Paneer

Here’s how I go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. A small bunch of fenugreek (methi), about 1 cup when finely chopped

2. 3 medium-sized tomatoes

3. 1 small onion

4. 10-12 almonds

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 7-8 garlic cloves

7. 200 grams paneer

8. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

9. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

10. Salt to taste

11. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

12. Red chilli powder to taste

13. 1 cup milk or as needed

14. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder

15. 2 pinches of garam masala

16. 3/4 teaspoon chana masala

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left: Step 3, Above bottom right and bottom right: Step 4

1. Wash the methi leaves thoroughly under running water, to remove any traces of mud from them. Place them in a colander and let all the water drain out. Then, chop up the leaves finely.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the finely chopped methi. Saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the leaves wilt and are cooked through. If needed, sprinkle very little water when the leaves are cooking. Take off heat and keep aside when done.

3. Chop the paneer into cubes. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger, garlic cloves and onion. Chop roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly too. Take the chopped ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes in a mixer jar and add in the almonds. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, without adding any water. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Centre left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom left and right: Steps 9

5. Now, we will start preparing the Methi Paneer. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the tomato-onion puree we prepared earlier to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the puree goes away completely. Stir intermittently. The puree would have thickened up by this time.

7. At this stage, add in the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

8. Add in the jaggery powder.

9. Still keeping the flame at medium, add the milk at this stage, along with about 1/2 cup of water. Add the garam masala and chana masala. Taste the gravy and adjust salt and red chilli powder if needed. Mix well and cook on medium flame for about a minute.

Top left and right: Steps 10 and 11, Bottom right: Step 11, Bottom left: The Methi Paneer, ready to serve

10. Now, add in the cooked methi leaves. Keep the flame at medium. Adjust water if needed. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 2 minutes.

11. Now add in the paneer cubes. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas when all the ingredients are well integrated together, but the gravy is still a bit on the runny side. Your Methi Paneer is ready – it will thicken further in a few minutes. Serve hot with rotis or parathas.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use soft, good-quality paneer and very fresh methi, for best results. I usually use the paneer from Akshayakalpa or Milky Mist (not sponsored). I’m guessing kasoori methi can be used in place of the fresh greens I have used here, but I have never tried that.

2. Do not use more than the specified amount of fenugreek greens, otherwise the gravy might turn bitter.

3. I have used boiled and cooled full-fat milk from Nandini, here. I haven’t tried making this with vegan milk, and am not sure if it would work.

4. I have used almonds here, to thicken the gravy and make it creamy. You may use cashewnuts instead, or a mix of cashewnuts and almonds.

5. I like adding a bit of jaggery to my gravies, to give it a light hint of sweetness and round off the other flavours beautifully. I would not suggest skipping it.

6. I have used a mix of garam masala and chana masala here – I love the flavour this combination imparts to North Indian gravies. You may use either one of these spice blends instead, too. Since home-made masala is quite strong, you need to use very little – just a couple of pinches of garam masala and about 3/4 teaspoon of chana masala is enough. If you are using store-bought spice blends, you might need to use a little more.

7. I do not blanch the tomatoes or saute them with the onions, before pureeing them.

8. I add the paneer cubes directly into the gravy, without deep-frying them. You may fry them if you prefer.

9. Do not cook the gravy for too long after adding in the paneer – 3-4 minutes is good. Overcooking may cause the paneer to become hard and rubbery.

10. The Methi Paneer gravy thickens up in a few minutes after it is made. Remember to switch off the gas when the gravy is well-cooked but it is still a bit on the runnier side.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!