There are some dishes which are very popular, so much so that they’re automatically identified with a particular cuisine or style of cooking. If you did a Food Blog Search (I’m not even talking about a net search) for one such recipe, you would probably end up with hundreds of matching results, from which you could take your pick.
Why, then, am I also doing a post with one such “much written recipe”? I am doing it for two reasons. The first being that my blog is a collection of recipes of the food I cook in my kitchen and so I would be documenting my effort. The second reason would be probably the reason why that recipe is there on so many food blogs; because that particular dish is so good that so many people have their versions online.
And then I believe that my version might offer a variation on the main theme, either in the ingredients or the way I cook that particular dish. Paneer butter masala is one such food preparation. There are so many recipes (some with video footage on cooking it) out there for this Punjabidish, one more recipe (mine) isn’t going to make too much of a difference!
There was a time when I hardly used to cook this at home even though we liked paneer butter masala. This was because almost every time we used to eat out and were ordering Punjabi food, our daughter would insist on paneer butter masala (a.k.a. PBM). It got to a point where we used to first extract a promise from her that she would not ask for PBM before we ventured out of the house to eat! Akshaya has long got over that PBM phase now, though she still enjoys this butter laden paneer dish. So nowadays I do cook paneer butter masala at home and almost always this butterless version.
Paneer butter masala, also known as “Paneer makhani” (makhan is the Hindi word for butter) is a preparation of fried paneer (an Indian cheese) in a spiced butter rich, creamy, onion and tomato based gravy. Traditionally, this dish is loaded with calories from lots of butter, cream and paneer. One can however, try and make this a little less fattening by making some changes and this is where my recipe for paneer butter (less) masala comes in.
I substitute oil for butter, and use much less of it. I also pan fry/ sauté the paneer instead of deep frying it. Paneer made from low-fat milk can also reduce the calories further. I do not use cream at all here, but use yogurt made from low-fat milk instead.
I do however use a bit of cashew paste to enrich the gravy, or else this dish would lose out on texture and taste quite a bit. That does not mean that all these changes make this dish tasteless. On the contrary, this makes for very tasty lower calorie dish which has earned a stamp of approval from my resident PBM expert and taster and that counts for a lot.