The idea of mixing cheese with Indian spices not only sounds incredulous, but hard to imagine. How can something soft and gooey, something you have with wine on sophisticated occasions or dripping teasingly from pizza/burger on “cheat” days be a part of Indian cuisine?
As difficult as it may be for some people to imagine, cottage cheese, or paneer, has been part of Indian cuisine for as long as Indians have cooked. The softness and blandness of the paneer blends perfectly with the spices. Imagine pieces of cheese rolling in thick curry or being roasted over a tandoor. It’s palatable and extremely pleasing.
I'll be honest, when I was a kid I absolutely detested cheese in any form. But thanks to the endless variety of cottage cheese dishes here, you will love at least one, if not all. That's how sneaky Paneer is. And the best part? Paneer can be made at home!
So here is a list of some of the delightful Paneer dishes in India, which will leave your tummy extremely satisfied and happy.
1. Paneer Makhani
Not only is this my personal favorite, but it's also one of the most famous Punjabi dishes and is very easy to make. These succulent cottage cheese cubes are mixed with a smooth sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and cream. For an added flavor, cashew paste is also added, which helps make the gravy smooth and thick as well. This is best served with roti and naan. But being a big fan of rice, I love to eat this gorgeously rich dish with basmati rice.
2. Paneer Manchurian
As the name probably suggests, it’s an Indo-Chinese dish comprising of the classic hint of sweet and sour taste. Delectable, lip smacking, and easy to make, this dish can be made as a gravy or dry, depending on your taste or mood. I mostly have it with gravy as I have a penchant for it. But that’s completely up to you.
3. Paneer Tikka
This is a very popular tandoor dish. Served as a starter (with mint chutney) these are marinated cottage cheese cubes arranged on skewers and grilled or baked. Due to the tandoor, it has a subtle smoky flavor. Not only is it the perfect started, but your tummy is pleased and ready for more.
4. Paneer Bhurji
This is the perfect breakfast dish to have with bread or roti and is basically a scrambled spiced paneer dish, a vegetarian replacement of scrambled eggs. A quick recipe, it's paneer mixed and sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and spices. Drink a cup of tea with Paneer bhurji and bread rolls while browsing through your newspaper or phone, and you are good to go.
5. Paneer Koft
Another North Indian dish that's perfect for starters or a main dish. It comes in two parts. First, you make the kofta, which is made by mixing grated paneer, potatoes, green chile, and lemon juice. Once all of these ingredients are mixed and made into a smooth mixture, they are divided into equal sized balls or oval shapes and then fried in heated oil.
Kofta alone can be eaten as a starter. But when these are mixed with a thick gravy, it is then served as a main dish. Very filling, very scrumptious, and you feel like a queen (or a king) after eating this stuffed dish.
The list of paneer dishes are endless and growing every day, thanks to all the cooking enthusiasts who concoct some new recipe every other day. Hopefully, not only has this list made you hungry for some Paneer, but it's also made you want to search for more interesting food combinations. Like we've said before, Indian foods aren’t all just about curry.