Heat a pan and dry roast all the whole spices first on a low flame - cinnamon, cloves, black peppers, coriander, cumin, stone flower, tej patta, nagkesar (cobra's saffron), red chilies, nutmeg powder, green cardamoms and black cardamom seeds.
Dry roast till the spices become fragrant on a low heat, stirring often.
Once the spices become fragrant, then add poppy seeds, sesame seeds and desiccated coconut.
Stir continuously non stop and dry roast till the coconut gets golden on low heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Also remove the dry ingredients in another plate or tray.
In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and add ¾ chopped onions.
Saute on low to medium heat stirring often till light brown or golden.
Then add chopped garlic and ginger. Sauté for a couple of seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away on low heat.
Then add coriander leaves. Mix very well and saute for half a minute. Then switch off the flame. Let this onion mixture cool down.
Take the roasted whole spices and sautéed onion mixture in a grinder jar.
Add ½ to ¾ cup water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
making paneer kolhapuri
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same pan.
Then add finely chopped tomatoes.
Stir and saute till the tomatoes turn pulpy and soft. Oil should release from the sautéed tomatoes.
Now add the spice powders - ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder and a pinch of asafoetida.
Mix the spice powders very well with the tomatoes.
Now add the kolhapuri masala.
Mix very well with the tomatoes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat.
Add 1 to 1.25 cups water. Instead of adding water directly to the pan, add some water in the grinder jar and rinse it very well, so that the remaining masala gets mixed with water. Then add this masala mixed water in the pan.
Season with salt as required. Salt in this recipe has to be right. If less salt is added, you do not get the flavor of the spices.
Bring the gravy to a simmer on a low to medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. In between do stir, so that the masala does not stick to the base of the pan.
You should see some specks of oil floating on the gravy. This means the gravy is done. Then add paneer cubes (200 grams).
Mix and switch off the heat.
Serve this spicy paneer kolhapuri with chapatis or phulkas or bhakri. Garnish with some coriander leaves while serving. Accompany it with some sliced onions and lemon wedges.
You can add less or more red chilies as per your preferences. If using lavangi chilies, then add 2 or 3 chilies.
Depending on the type of chilies used, the color of the gravy will vary.
Skip poppy seed, nagkesar and stone flower if you do not have them