Peel and rinse the onions. Rinse the tomatoes. Halve or quarter the onions.
You can also use pearl or button onions instead of regular onions
Blanch halved or quartered onions and tomatoes in hot water. For this method, first boil water in a pan till the water begins to boil.
Add the onions and tomatoes and let them cook for a minute or two. Then switch off the flame.
Cover the pan and let the onions and tomatoes blanch in the hot water for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain and once the onions are cooled, separate each onion layers and set aside. If the onion layers are large, then chop them in halves.
Sautéing blanched onions
Heat butter in a pan.
Add the onion layers and sauté until they are lightly browned from the edges. Set aside.
Chopping fresh onions and blanched tomatoes
Peel the skin from the blanched tomatoes and chop them finely.
Also peel, rinse and finely chop two small to medium onions. You will need ½ to ⅔ cup of finely chopped onions.
Sautéing spices and onions
Heat oil in the same pan. Lower the heat and add all the whole spices - cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, mace, bay leaf and dry red chilies. Mix and sauté the spices for some seconds until aromatic. Take care not to burn them.
Add the chopped onions. Stir and sauté the onions until they become golden.
Add the blanched and finely chopped tomatoes. Mix well.
Then add ginger-garlic paste. Mix and stir the masala mixture very well and sauté on a low to medium-low heat until the oil begins to release from the sides.
The tomatoes should soften and be completely cooked.
Keep heat to a low and add ground spices - coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, nutmeg powder and garam masala powder.
You can also add red chili powder if you prefer. Add about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of red chili powder depending on your taste.
Stir and mix the ground spices very well on low heat.
Making paneer do pyaza
Then add the blanched and sautéed onion layers. Mix and sauté for 2 minutes on low heat.
Add the paneer cubes.
Season with salt and stir everything well.
Add the light cream or low-fat cream. Mix gently and cook for about thirty seconds to a minute. If you have whipped cream, then add 2 tablespoons of it.
You can also add kasuri methi at this step. Add about ½ teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves).
Garnish with coriander leaves, ginger julienne or grated paneer.
Serve paneer do pyaza hot or warm with Indian flatbreads like chapati, roti or naan.
Onions: You can make paneer do pyaza with any type of onions - red, white or yellow. Small button onions and even pearl onions or shallots are good enough for the recipe. But do not use scallions or green onions.
Paneer: For best results, I suggest to make the do pyaza recipe with homemade paneer. If using packaged paneer, then malai paneer is great to include. For frozen paneer, follow the instructions on the package prior to adding them to the gravy.
Vegan options: If you are allergic to dairy or vegan, then make this recipe with tofu, oil and cashew cream or coconut cream.
Tomatoes: If you are out of stock with fresh tomatoes, then use canned tomatoes or tomato puree. But do not blanch the canned tomatoes - simply chop or crush them and add while cooking. You can add about ½ cup crushed canned tomatoes or ⅓ cup tomato puree.
Kasuri Methi: For more restaurant style flavors, I suggest to add about ½ teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi that gives a lovely aroma to the dish.
Cream: I have used packaged cream. You can use malai which is clotted cream (that floats on the top of a heated milk). But you will need to whip malai in a small blender until it become smooth before you add it.
Additional veggies: Bell pepper (red or yellow or capsicum) makes this dish taste more flavorful. For a meaty texture and more protein, you can sauté or stir-fry or roast some button or cremini mushrooms separately. Add them when you add the paneer.
Pan: It is best to make this dish in a heavy skillet or frying pan, so that the sautéed onion-tomato masala does not stick or get burnt on the surface of the pan.
Consistency: This is a semi-dry dish. If you prefer a slight gravy consistency, add ¼ to ⅓ cup water and simmer before you add sautéed onions layers and paneer.
Pan frying paneer: If you like some crispy texture in your paneer, then pan fry them in some oil until light golden or golden.