The idea for this recipe came from a a combination of two very famous Indian recipes - Paneer Butter Masala and Butter Chicken. I marinated the cottage cheese cubes like in Butter Chicken where the chicken pieces are marinated and shallow fried and I followed basically the same steps (but not all the ingredients) of Paneer Butter Masala. For those who may be in the dark, Paneer is cottage cheese in Hindi.
As the names imply, both the dishes mentioned above requires generous amounts of butter and cream. I try to avoid butter, ghee (clarified butter) or cream in my daily cooking for obvious health reasons. I used regular Canola Oil and instead of cream, I only used cahewnuts to get the creamy texture. Cashews also gave a certain sweetness to this very yummy gravy dish.
If you don't have the time to make cottage cheese at home (yes, it can be made at home!), store bought cottage cheese cubes can be used and because they are rather tasteless, the marinating give a delicious infusion of the spice taste to the cubes.
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side dish)
3 tbsps Canola oil or any other good quality Veg oil (No palm oil please!)
300gm Cottage Cheese Cubes
1 and 1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp salt
2 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
12-14 cashew nuts, split
3 medium tomatoes, roughly cubed
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup water
Salt as required
Coriander leaves for garnish
1) Put all the marinating ingredients with the cottage cheese cubes into a bowl and mix well. I wore a disposable plastic glove and went right in to get a good mix.
2) Leave aside to marinate for 20mins.
3) After the 20 mins, start shallow frying the marinated cottage cheese cubes in canola oil and turn over frequently so that all the sides are equally fried.
4) Drain the oil on kitchen towel paper.
5) In the same pot with the remaining oil, start frying the roughly chopped onions.
6) After 2-3 mins on medium heat, add the 2 tsps of ginger garlic paste.
7) Then add all the spice powders, salt, roughly cubed tomatoes and cahew nuts. The mix will become pulpy after around 10 mins..
8) Blend this mix and return it to the pot.
9) Add the shallow fried marinated cottage cheese cubes into the pot, 1 cup water and cover. Let the gravy thicken over low heat for 5-10 mins.
10) Serve hot with Basmati Rice, Naans or Wholewheat Flatbreads (Chapathis). You can now enjoy a Skinny version of Paneer Butter Masala and the best part ? You can have it guilt -free!!