How to Make Authentic Dhaba Style Paneer: Recipe, Tips, and Serving Suggestions

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine the aroma of sizzling spices wafting through a bustling roadside eatery in India. That’s the essence of Dhaba Style Paneer, a dish that captures the heart and soul of traditional Punjabi cuisine. This hearty, flavorful recipe brings the authentic taste of Indian dhabas straight to your kitchen.

Ingredients

To achieve the authentic taste of Dhaba Style Paneer, gather all ingredients before you start cooking. This ensures a smooth and enjoyable cooking experience.

For the Paneer Marinade

  • 200 grams paneer (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (whisked)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

For the Gravy

  • 3 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 medium tomatoes (pureed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed

For Garnishing

  • Fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • A dash of fresh cream

Required Equipment

Preparing Dhaba Style Paneer requires a few key pieces of equipment to ensure the cooking process is smooth and efficient. Here’s what you need:

  • Large Mixing Bowl: Essential for marinating the paneer with yogurt and spices.
  • Sharp Knife: For dicing onions, tomatoes, and chopping cilantro leaves.
  • Cutting Board: To safely chop all your vegetables and herbs.
  • Heavy-Bottomed Pan or Kadai: Ideal for sautéing onions and cooking the gravy evenly without burning.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: Useful for stirring the ingredients while they cook to prevent sticking.
  • Blender or Food Processor (optional): Handy if you prefer a smoother gravy by blending cooked onions and tomatoes before adding paneer.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are crucial for maintaining the authentic flavor profile.

Ensure you have these tools ready before starting to make your culinary experience seamless.

Preparation

Transforming simple ingredients into a delectable Dhaba Style Paneer requires careful preparation. Follow these steps to ensure your dish turns out perfectly.

Cutting and Marinating Paneer

  1. Cutting the Paneer:
  • Take 400 grams of paneer.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the paneer into 1-inch cubes.
  1. Marinating the Paneer:
  • In a large mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala, and salt to taste.
  • Mix well until all spices are evenly combined with the yogurt.
  • Add the paneer cubes to this mixture.
  • Gently coat each cube with the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Onions and Tomatoes:

  • Finely chop 3 medium onions using a sharp knife on a cutting board.
  • Puree 4 medium tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Spices:

Measure out your spices:

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Garnish

  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves:
  • Wash and finely chop a small bunch of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Prepping these ingredients ahead of time, you will have everything ready when you start cooking your Dhaba Style Paneer.

Cooking Process

This section takes you through the step-by-step method of cooking Dhaba Style Paneer. Follow these detailed instructions to achieve an authentic, flavorful dish.

Cooking the Paneer

  1. Heat Oil: In a heavy-bottomed pan or kadai, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Sear Paneer: Add marinated paneer cubes to the hot oil in batches. Sear them until golden brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per batch. Use tongs to turn the pieces for even browning.
  3. Remove and Set Aside: Once done, remove paneer from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Adding Vegetables and Spices

  1. Heat Oil: In the same pan, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil if needed.
  2. Cook Onions: Add finely chopped onions (2 large) and sauté until they turn golden brown, stirring occasionally for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add Ginger-Garlic Paste: Mix in 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Spice Mixture: Add spices—1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon red chili powder, and 1 teaspoon cumin powder—and stir well for another minute.
  5. Tomato Puree: Pour in pureed tomatoes (from 4 large tomatoes) and cook until the mixture thickens and starts releasing oil from the sides of the pan, approximately 10-12 minutes.
  6. Combine Paneer with Gravy: Gently add seared paneer cubes back into the gravy mixture.
  7. Simmer with Water/Cream: Pour in half a cup of water or cream depending on your preference for consistency; stir gently to combine everything well.
  8. Cook Through: Let it simmer on low heat for another 5-7 minutes allowing flavors to meld together beautifully.

Assembly

Now that you have prepared the flavorful gravy and perfectly seared paneer, it’s time to bring everything together for a delicious Dhaba Style Paneer.

Combining Paneer and Gravy

  1. Add Paneer To Gravy: Gently add the seared paneer pieces into the simmering gravy.
  2. Mix Well: Stir carefully to ensure all paneer cubes are well coated with the rich, spiced gravy.
  3. Simmer Together: Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes, letting the flavors meld beautifully.

Final Touches

  1. Check Seasoning: Taste the dish and adjust salt or spices as needed.
  2. Garnish: Finish by garnishing with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.
  3. Serve Hot: Serve your Dhaba Style Paneer hot with naan, roti, or steamed rice for an authentic experience.

Serving Suggestions

When your Dhaba Style Paneer is ready, it’s time to think about the best ways to enjoy this delicious dish. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your dining experience:

Accompaniments

  1. Naan: Soft and buttery naan complements the rich flavors of the paneer gravy perfectly. Warm naan in a skillet or oven before serving.
  2. Roti: For a lighter option, serve with freshly made roti or chapati. The slightly crisp texture pairs well with the creamy sauce.
  3. Basmati Rice: Fluffy basmati rice can balance out the spice and richness of the paneer dish.

Side Dishes

  1. Raita: A cooling cucumber or boondi raita can provide a refreshing contrast to the spicy paneer.
  2. Salad: Serve with a simple salad of sliced onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a squeeze of lemon for added freshness.
  3. Pickles: Indian pickles (achar) like mango or lime pickle add an extra burst of flavor.

Serving

  1. Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro over the top for a burst of color and freshness.
  2. Lemon Wedges: Serve lemon wedges on the side so guests can add a hint of acidity if desired.

Conclusion

Crafting Dhaba Style Paneer at home allows you to bring the rich, authentic flavors of Indian roadside eateries right into your kitchen. This dish isn’t just about a meal; it’s an experience that combines aromatic spices and creamy textures. Pairing it with naan, roti, or basmati rice transforms it into a feast fit for any occasion.

Don’t forget the accompaniments like raita, salad, pickles, fresh herbs, and lemon wedges to elevate your dining experience even further. Whether you’re cooking for family or friends this recipe is sure to impress and delight everyone at the table. Enjoy the burst of flavors and make every bite memorable!

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