Paneer Lababdar is an easy-to-prepare, restaurant-style curry of paneer (cottage cheese cubes) in a creamy, mildly tangy and faintly sweet gravy. This vegetarian Paneer Lababdar recipe is also naturally gluten-free.
Take chopped tomatoes, cashews, chopped ginger and garlic, green cardamom, cloves and water in a small pan. Use tomatoes which are not too tangy or sour.
Switch on the flame and simmer this mixture on a low flame.
Cook until the tomatoes are softened. If the water dries up and the tomatoes are not softened, then add about 2 to 3 tablespoons water and continue to cook.
Allow this mixture to become warm or cool completely and add to a grinder or blender jar.
Grind to a smooth paste without any cahsews or tomato chunks or pieces. You may add some water if required while grinding. Keep this ground tomato-cashew-spices paste aside.
Sautéing onions and tomato-cashew paste
Heat butter in pan or kadai or wok. Add the tej patta and sauté for a couple of seconds.
Add finely chopped onions. Stir well.
Then continue to saute as well as stir and cook till the onions become light golden or golden.
Then add the tomato-cashew-spices paste. The mixture will splutter if there is water in it, so be careful. Stir very well.
Add cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder.
Stir and saute this masala. You will see the masala clumping and gathering around itself.
Saute till you see fat leaving the sides of the masala paste.
Making paneer lababdar
Then add water. Mix very well.
Add the slit green chilies.
Stir and allow the gravy to come to a simmer. Then season with salt and sugar.
Add paneer cubes and grated paneer.
Gently mix and combine.
Then sprinkle kasuri methi which has been crushed with the garam masala powder. Stir very well again.
Lastly add the low-fat cream or heavy whipping cream. Switch off the heat & combine very well. You can also add 1 tablespoon butter at this step. This is optional.
Garnish paneer lababdar with chopped coriander leaves and ginger julienne. Serve with chapati, tandoori roti or naan. It also goes well with cumin rice or veg pulao.
Tomatoes: In place of fresh tomatoes, use 1.5 cups of canned tomatoes while blending cashews. You do not need to cook the canned tomatoes with cashews. You can also use ¾ cup tomato puree and add it when sautéing with the cashew paste. You only need to make the cashew and spices paste if you are going to use tomato puree.
Kasuri Methi: Skip dried fenugreek leaves if you do not have them.
Paneer: Use extra firm or firm tofu in place of paneer.
Cream: You can skip cream or use coconut cream. Malai which is the clotted cream that collects on the top of boiled milk can also be added after it has been whipped to a smooth flowing consistency.
Without onion and garlic: Add 1 pinch of asafetida or hing (if you have it) as a substitute when sautéing the tomato-cashew paste.
Dhungar Method: Giving dhungar will make the paneer lababdar have a truly smoky restaurant style flavor.
Make ahead and storage: You can easily scale my paneer lababdar recipe. In the freezer, it keeps well for about a month. In the refrigerator, it stays good for a couple of days.
Vegan options: Add a neutral tasting oil instead of butter. Replace firm tofu, seitan, tempeh with paneer. Skip adding cream altogether or replace it with coconut cream.