Paneer or cottage cheese is a widely consumed dairy product worldwide, especially in India. Paneer is used to make curries and recipes of various kinds and is loved by most people. It is made by using curdling hot milk with vinegar, citric acid, lime, or yoghurt. When you order paneer recipes in a restaurant, you often order one of the two famous ones; Paneer Lababdaar or Paneer Butter Masala.
One of these is an entourage of flavors and aromas, and the other one is a lovely creamy mouth-melting recipe. Lababdaar is a faintly sweet dish that uses cashew nuts and sugar to give it a nice flavor. The absence of other dry fruits and the use of onions and tomatoes make it more of a Punjabi dish than a Mughlai one. Sometimes tasting two curries like that can be confusing.
Paneer butter Masala, on the other hand, is very similar but so different from Lababdaar. It is soft creamy recipe that has big raw cubes of paneer added into a blended smooth gravy made of again; tomatoes and cashew nuts. It uses a lot of dairy products like ghee and white butter to give it the taste. So let’s have a look at the difference between these recipes.
- To start the process, add a cup of diced tomatoes, 10-15 cashew nuts, some ginger, some cloves of garlic, and a pod of cardamom to half a cup of water. Put all of this in a small pan. Try to use tomatoes that are not too tangy or sour, as it could affect the entire flavor profile of the recipe.
- Start reducing this mixture on a simmered flame. Cook until the tomatoes are softened. Add water as required if it dries up. Make sure to cook evenly and until the point all the water is evaporated.
- Allow the mixture to cool down for a while, and then put the contents into a mixer grinder. Grind the contents into a smooth paste, ensuring there are no lumps or pieces left of the tomatoes of cashews.
- In a frying pan, use the fat of your choice. Best results are achieved when ghee or butter is used. Our suggestion is the use of ghee since it has a vibrant flavor that doesn’t go away when liquefied, unlike butter. Add a bay leaf for aroma.
- Once your pan is prepared, add a cup of finely chopped onions to it. Stir well on medium flame until they’re golden brown.
- This is where you add the tomato cashew paste to the pan. When you add the paste, and it has a little bit of water in it, it might sputter and spit. Stir occasionally and make sure that the mixture is well cooked. When it is, it will release the fat from the sides. Even the mixture will start becoming glossy.
- When this is done, add water and adjust the consistency according to your liking. Add half a teaspoon of sugar ½ tablespoons each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, and powdered coriander.
- The gravy is done! All you need to do now is add paneer cubes to the gravy and garnish with Kasuri methi, garam Masala, and a generous scoop of whipped fresh cream.
Paneer Butter Masala
The funny thing is, the recipes are not significantly different in terms of process and ingredients. What really separates the two is the process of making the initial pastes. When you combine the cashew nuts and tomatoes, the paste becomes more unified and gives a different flavor. For making Paneer butter Masala, however, you must complete the tomato paste separate from the cashew paste and cook the tomatoes independently.
Also, to make Paneer butter Masala, you must use only white unsalted butter as your fat. Use whole dry spices in the butter before you pour in the tomato paste. One more distinction is the lack of onions in this recipe. This part is entirely optional, but onions can be compromised to get the rich and smooth texture and taste. Once you’ve reduced and cooked the tomato paste, add in the cashew paste, shallow fry paneer cubes, and top it all with Kasuri methi, garam Masala, and cream!
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