Ultimate Paneer Angara Recipe: How to Master the Smoky Delight

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine sitting in a cozy Indian restaurant, the air filled with tantalizing aromas, and a dish arrives at your table enveloped in a smoky haze. That’s Paneer Angara for you—a dish as dramatic in its presentation as it is in flavor. Originating from the vibrant culinary landscapes of India, this dish is a favorite among those who adore a smoky twist to their meals.

Paneer Angara is where the robustness of spices meets the mildness of paneer, a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. The paneer is marinated, grilled, and then cooked in a rich tomato-based gravy infused with a smoky flavor achieved by a special technique involving charcoal. It’s this unique preparation that gives Paneer Angara its name, translating to ‘coal’ in Hindi, hinting at the fiery essence captured in the dish.

Perfect for a festive occasion or a special weekend dinner, Paneer Angara brings a piece of culinary theater right to your table. Get ready to impress your guests with a dish that’s as visually appealing as it is deliciously satisfying.

Ingredients

To create the exquisitely smoky Paneer Angara, you’ll need to prepare both a spicy marinade for the paneer and a deeply flavorful gravy. Additionally, the signature smoky infusion is achieved through the Dhungar method.

For the Paneer Marinade

  • 200 grams of Paneer, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons Plain Yogurt, whisked until smooth
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil (for an authentic flavor)

For the Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 2 Green Chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Puree
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 cup Water, or as needed
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi), crushed
  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped, for garnish

For the Other Ingredients

  • 1 piece of Charcoal
  • A few drops of Ghee (to create smoke)
  • A small bowl and foil (to hold the charcoal and capture the smoke)

Tools and Equipment Needed

To create the smoky, flavorful Paneer Angara at home, you’ll need some specific tools and equipment. Here’s everything you need to set yourself up for cooking success:

Essential Cookware

  1. Heavy Bottom Pan: Choose a heavy bottom pan or skillet to cook the paneer and spices evenly without burning.
  2. Saucepan: A medium saucepan is ideal for preparing the gravy that complements the paneer.

Marinating and Mixing

  1. Mixing Bowls: You will need a couple of large mixing bowls for marinating the paneer and mixing the gravy ingredients.
  2. Whisk or Spoon: Essential for stirring the marinade and the gravy to ensure all ingredients are well combined and smooth.

Smoky Flavor Infusion

  1. Small Bowl or Steel Cup: This will hold the burning charcoal for the Dhungar method, which imparts the signature smoky flavor to the dish.
  2. Tongs: Necessary to handle hot pieces of charcoal safely.
  3. Foil: Use foil to cover the bowl or cup containing the charcoal to trap the smoke inside and infuse it into the paneer.

Other Tools

  1. Knife and Chopping Board: Needed for finely chopping onions, tomatoes, and other herbs that go into the marinade and gravy.
  2. Measuring Cups and Spoons: To measure all your ingredients accurately, ensure you have a set of measuring cups and spoons.
  3. Blender: A blender is useful for pureeing the tomatoes to a smooth consistency for the gravy.

Gathering these tools and equipment before you start cooking will streamline your preparation process and help achieve the best results. Plus, it ensures that the Paneer Angara you cook will captivate everyone with its delightful aroma and taste.

Prep Work

Before diving into the actual cooking, it’s crucial to prepare your ingredients and marinade. This ensures a seamless cooking experience and a flavorful dish.

Marinating the Paneer

  1. Cut the paneer into 1-inch cubes. Ensure they are uniform for even cooking and marination.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of thick yogurt, 1 teaspoon of red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, and 1 tablespoon of mustard oil. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and well-combined.
  3. Add the paneer cubes to the marinade. Gently toss them to ensure each piece is well-coated with the marinade.
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. For deeper flavors, you can marinate the paneer overnight.

Preparing the Gravy

  1. Finely chop 1 large onion, 2 medium tomatoes, and 3 cloves of garlic. These ingredients will form the base of your gravy.
  2. Grate a 1-inch piece of ginger and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, hydrate 2 tablespoons of cashews in warm water for 15 minutes, then drain and blend into a smooth paste.
  4. Prepare your spices: measure out 1 teaspoon each of coriander powder, cumin powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder. Keep these ready as they will be added quickly during the cooking phase.

Cooking Instructions

Now that your paneer is marinated and your ingredients are prepped, follow these steps to cook a delicious Paneer Angara.

Cooking the Gravy

  1. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add your chopped onions. Saute them until they turn translucent and slightly golden, about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the minced garlic and saute for another minute until its fragrance blooms — careful not to let it burn.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt, stirring frequently until the tomatoes break down and become pulpy, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Introduce the ground spices — kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, and coriander — into the skillet. Stir them well to mix with the onion-tomato mixture.
  5. Blend the skillet’s contents along with the soaked and drained cashews until smooth. Return this blend to the skillet and cook for another 4-5 minutes. If the gravy is too thick, you can add a bit of water or cream to reach your desired consistency.
  6. Let the gravy simmer gently while you prepare the smoky element that goes into it next.

Adding the Smoky Flavor

  1. Light a piece of coal until it’s red hot. Use heat-resistant tongs to handle it safely.
  2. Place the hot coal in a small metal bowl and quickly put it in the center of the skillet with the gravy.
  3. Drizzle a teaspoon of mustard oil over the coal and cover the skillet immediately. This will trap the smoke and infuse the gravy with a deep, smoky flavor. Allow this to sit for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and carefully discard the coal and bowl from the skillet. Stir the gravy well to ensure the smoky aroma is evenly distributed.

Garnishing and Serving

  1. Add the marinated paneer cubes to the smoky gravy. Gently fold the paneer into the gravy to avoid breaking the cubes while ensuring each piece is well-coated.
  2. Allow the dish to cook over low heat for about 5-7 minutes to let the flavors meld. The paneer should be soft and completely warmed through.
  3. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice for an extra burst of freshness.
  4. Serve hot with naan or rice, making sure to scoop up lots of that rich, smoky gravy.

Serving Suggestions

Paneer Angara, with its smoky and rich flavor, can be a standout dish at any meal. Here’s how to create the perfect plate that complements its tastes:

Accompaniments

Pair your Paneer Angara with warm, buttery naan or a plate of fragrant basmati rice. Both options absorb the creamy sauce well and balance the smokiness of the paneer delicately.

Side Dishes

Consider pairing with a side of cooling cucumber raita or a tangy mint chutney. These sides help cut through the richness and add a fresh element to your meal.

Beverage Pairings

A glass of chilled lassi or a warm cup of masala chai makes excellent drink options that resonate well with the spicy and smoky notes of the Paneer Angara.

Presentation Tips

Serve the dish in a traditional copper handi or a ceramic bowl to enhance the authenticity of your Indian dining experience. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro or a few strips of ginger for an added burst of freshness just before serving.

Embrace these suggestions to turn your Paneer Angara into a memorable feast that celebrates the essence of Indian cuisine.

Conclusion

Ready to impress your guests with a sensational Indian dish? Paneer Angara is your go-to recipe that promises a delightful mix of creamy texture and smoky flavor. Whether you’re serving it up with warm naan or fluffy basmati rice, this dish is sure to be a showstopper. Don’t forget to add a side of cucumber raita or mint chutney and a refreshing lassi to perfectly complement the spices. Embrace the beauty of Indian cuisine by presenting your Paneer Angara in a traditional copper handi or a charming ceramic bowl, and watch the magic unfold at your dining table. Enjoy the flavors and the praises that are sure to come your way!

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