Paneer Tawa Masala Recipe: Authentic Indian Street Food Delight

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Craving a quick and flavorful dish that packs a punch? Meet Paneer Tawa Masala, an irresistible dry curry that’s a staple of Indian street food. Prepared on a tawa (a flat griddle), this dish combines the creamy goodness of paneer with the robust flavors of pav bhaji masala, creating a spicy delight you can whip up in minutes.

Unlike traditional rich and creamy paneer curries, Paneer Tawa Masala offers a unique texture and taste profile. It’s often served as an appetizer or side dish but pairs perfectly with roti or naan for a satisfying meal. Whether you’re hosting guests or just want to treat yourself to something special, this recipe promises simplicity without compromising on flavor.

Ingredients

Gathering all the essential ingredients beforehand will make your cooking process smooth and efficient. Below, you’ll find detailed lists for each component of this delicious Paneer Tawa Masala recipe.

Paneer Preparation

  • 200 grams paneer (cottage cheese), cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons thick yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

Spice Blend

  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • A pinch of mace
  • 3 cloves
  • A pinch of dagad phool (stone flower)

Base Masala

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Ginger-garlic paste (made from a one-inch piece of ginger and two garlic cloves)
  • Green chili paste (from two green chilies)
  • Turmeric powder: a pinch for sautéing onions and spices.
  • Red chili powder: Adjust to taste.
  • Coriander powder: Adjust to taste.
  • Sabzi masala: Adjust to taste.
  • Kasoori methi for gravy mix.
  • Tomato puree made from two medium tomatoes or store-bought equivalent.
  • Cashew nut paste made from soaking cashews in warm water then blending them until smooth.

Equipment Needed

To create the perfect Paneer Tawa Masala, having the right equipment can make your cooking process smooth and efficient. Here’s what you’ll need:

Heavy-bottomed Pan

A heavy-bottomed pan ensures even heat distribution, preventing your spices from burning and helping in achieving a well-cooked masala base.

Tongs or Spatula

You will need tongs or a spatula to handle the paneer cubes while frying. These tools help in evenly browning the paneer without breaking it.

Knife and Cutting Board

Chopping onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and other vegetables requires a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board. Ensuring uniform pieces helps in even cooking.

Measuring Spoons and Cups

Accurate measurements are crucial for balancing flavors. Use measuring spoons for spices like turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, and kasoori methi.

Mixing Bowls

Having mixing bowls on hand is essential for marinating the paneer with curd and spices before frying.

Ladle

A ladle is useful for stirring the ingredients as they cook to prevent sticking or burning at the bottom of your pan.

Preparing these pieces of equipment beforehand, you set yourself up for an organized and enjoyable cooking experience.

Preparation

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare Paneer Tawa Masala, ensuring each component is perfectly prepped for an unforgettable dish.

Cutting and Marinating Paneer

  1. Cut the Paneer: Begin by cutting 2 cups of paneer into small cubes. If using store-bought paneer, soak it in warm water for 20 minutes to make it soft before patting dry and cutting.
  2. Prepare the Marinade: In a mixing bowl, add thick yogurt (or drained yogurt) until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, 1 teaspoon kasoori methi, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Marinate the Paneer: Add the paneer cubes to the marinade and mix gently until all pieces are coated evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Preparing the Vegetables

  1. Chop Onions: Finely chop 1½ cups of onions.
  2. Dice Capsicum: Dice ½ cup of capsicum into medium-sized pieces.
  3. Prepare Tomatoes: Chop ½ cup of tomatoes finely or blend them into a puree if you prefer a smoother consistency.
  4. Grind Pastes: Prepare green chili paste by grinding fresh green chilies, and ensure you have ginger-garlic paste ready—2 tablespoons needed.
  5. Measure Spices: Have your spices measured out: turmeric powder (½ tablespoon), red chili powder (1 tablespoon), coriander powder (1 tablespoon), sabzi masala (½ tablespoon), kasoori methi (1 tablespoon).

Cooking Process

In this section, you will learn how to bring together the ingredients to create a flavorful Paneer Tawa Masala. Follow these steps for a delicious and aromatic dish.

Sauteing Aromatics

  1. Heat a pan and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Add 2 bay leaves, 1-inch cinnamon stick, 10-12 black peppercorns, 1 star anise, 2 black cardamoms, 4 green cardamoms, mace (a pinch), cloves (3-4), and dagad phool (a small piece).
  3. Allow the spices to crackle and release their aroma.
  4. Add chopped onions (approximately 1 cup) and a pinch of salt.
  5. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown.
  6. Add ginger-garlic paste (1 tablespoon) and green chili paste (1 teaspoon). Sauté for another minute or until fragrant.

Cooking Vegetables and Spices

  1. Mix in turmeric powder (½ teaspoon), red chili powder (½ teaspoon), and coriander powder (1 teaspoon). Sauté until the spices are fragrant.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes (about 2 medium-sized) and cook until they become mushy.
  3. Stir in sabzi masala (1 teaspoon), kasoori methi (¼ teaspoon), and tomato puree (½ cup).
  4. Cook this mixture for about 5 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the masala.
  5. Pour in water as needed along with cashew nut paste made from grinding soaked cashews into a smooth consistency—cook for another 3-4 minutes to prepare the gravy.

Adding Paneer and Finishing Touches

  1. Once the gravy reaches the desired consistency, add paneer cubes (about 250 grams) and mix gently to coat them with the masala.
  2. Cook on low heat for another 5-7 minutes to allow the paneer to absorb the flavors. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and a dash of garam masala.
  3. Serve hot with naan, roti, or rice for a mouth-watering meal that captures the essence of traditional Indian cuisine.

Enjoy your Paneer Tawa Masala!

Assembling the Dish

  1. Combine Sautéed Paneer and Gravy: After preparing the flavorful gravy, add it to the sautéed paneer mixture on the tawa. Ensure that all paneer cubes are evenly coated with the rich, aromatic gravy.
  2. Simmer Together: Allow the paneer and gravy mixture to simmer on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. This step helps infuse the paneer with all the spices and flavors from the gravy.
  3. Add Fresh Ingredients: Incorporate diced tomatoes into the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes until they soften but still retain their shape, adding a fresh texture to your dish.
  4. Final Garnish: Sprinkle chopped coriander over the dish for a burst of color and freshness. Then, grate some extra paneer on top for added richness and visual appeal.
  5. Serve Hot: Serve your Paneer Tawa Masala hot with naan or rice, ensuring each serving is generously topped with sauce and garnished beautifully.

Following these steps meticulously, you can create a delicious Paneer Tawa Masala that captures all its authentic flavors perfectly.

Serving Suggestions

Paneer Tawa Masala is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in multiple ways. Here are some serving suggestions to enhance your dining experience:

With Indian Breads

Paneer Tawa Masala pairs wonderfully with various types of Indian breads. Serve it hot with:

  • Roti: Soft, whole wheat flatbreads.
  • Paratha: Layered, flaky bread that’s perfect for soaking up the flavors.
  • Naan: A popular choice, naan’s soft and slightly chewy texture complements the semi-dry curry well.

As A Starter

If you’re looking to serve Paneer Tawa Masala as an appetizer, simply place the paneer cubes on a serving platter. Add some fresh coriander leaves for garnish and pair it with:

  • Green Chutney: This tangy and spicy condiment enhances the flavors beautifully.
  • Tamarind Sauce: For a sweet and tangy twist, tamarind sauce offers a delightful contrast to the savory paneer.
  • Salad: A light, crunchy salad with cucumbers and tomatoes brings a refreshing balance.

As A Main Course

For a filling meal, serve Paneer Tawa Masala with:

  • Jeera Rice: Fragrant cumin rice that perfectly complements the rich flavors.
  • Mixed Veg Pulao: A colorful rice dish enriched with vegetables.

Avoiding Rice

Due to its semi-dry consistency, Paneer Tawa Masala isn’t recommended to be served with rice. The dish shines best when paired with something that can scoop up or complement its robust flavor profile.

Conclusion

Paneer Tawa Masala is a delightful fusion of rich spices and creamy paneer that brings the vibrant flavors of Indian street food right into your kitchen. By following the detailed steps and ensuring you have all essential ingredients at hand, you’ll master this dish in no time. The use of pav bhaji masala adds a unique twist, making it stand out from other paneer dishes.

Whether you’re serving it as a main course with naan or roti or as an appetizer with green chutney, Paneer Tawa Masala promises to be a hit. Its robust flavors and inviting aroma will surely make it a favorite at any meal. So go ahead, get cooking, and enjoy this culinary delight!

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