Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Akbari Paneer

A silky smooth tomato and cream based gravy with shredded paneer. 
Akbari Paneer is a rich Mughlai inspired recipe that can be served with naan, parathas or rice!  

Bowl of shredded paneer curry, Akbari Paneer



Indian cuisine has so many interesting ingredients. From all of them, paneer is my favorite. It is super versatile and can be prepared in a lot of different ways. 

Whether making mains, sides or even appetizers; paneer is always super delicious. I make it quite often for weeknight meals. Making the curries as part of meal prep helps a lot.   

This recipe is not so popular at restaurants and we had it as part of a catering we ordered some time ago. Our caterer described what he would make as Akbari Paneer and we TOTALLY loved the idea! Since then, it appears on our dinner menu so often! 

Plus, Akbari Paneer is LOVED by my toddler. When served with some roti or naan it is a great meal for him. As the recipe is not very spicy, he does enjoy it a lot. 

What is Akbari Paneer?

An easy to make main dish using Paneer, Akbari Paneer is made with shredded paneer and colored peppers in a delicious onion tomato based creamy curry. 

The curry can be served with naan, parathas, roti or any kind of rice. It is delicious, creamy and super easy to make.

A variation from other paneer recipes that use fried or cubed paneer, Akbari Paneer is made using shredded paneer. Here the paneer blends well with the sauce and creates a delicious curry that has paneer in every bite!

The signature orange colored sauce base for this recipe comes from a blend of cream and tomato. Together they also give the curry a creamy texture. 

Bowl of shredded paneer curry, Akbari Paneer

Watch full video recipe 

     


Why we love this recipe

  • Perfect for weeknight dinner
  • It is nut-free and can be made Vegan using non dairy cream and butter

  • Tastes amazing with naan, roti or parathas

  • Freezes really well and works for meal planning

  • This recipe is different from the regular paneer recipes! 
I have made this recipe for a few friends and they have loved the recipe as much as we do! 

Another thing is that any paneer will work for this recipe; even something that is slightly hard and does not work in the cubed version.

The curry can also be used to make delicious paneer pizza or sandwiches. It has the right consistency to stay put on the bread and not make everything too soggy.

Handi full of shredded paneer curry, Akbari Paneer

Ingredients

The recipe needs paneer along with some other ingredients. Not all are essential and some can be substituted or removed too.

Akbari Paneer uses pantry staples like onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, salt and sugar. Plus, it needs these ingredients:

Paneer: The key ingredient for the curry, shredded paneer is used here. Shred the paneer just before making the recipe or keep the shredded paneer covered at all times if shredding prior. 

From store bought paneer to frozen or freshly made ; any kind of paneer works. If you are unable to shred it, just crumble it and use. 

Peppers: Adding a lot of texture to the otherwise smooth gravy are these colorful peppers. Cube them to use.

Oil and Butter: We use both oil and butter here. Butter gives the curry the silky texture and flavor. It can be substituted with oil or non-dairy based butter.

Tomato Paste: A great way to get a bright color and tang of tomatoes in Indian curries is to use Tomato Paste. A teaspoon of this concentrated paste goes a long way! 

If you do not have it, add one more tomato to the recipe along with some lime juice.

Akbari Paneer ingredients


Cream: Whipping cream is required to blend with the tomato base and get an orange gravy along with some silkiness. I would strongly recommend using it for the recipe.

Whole and Ground Spices: The recipe calls for a mix of whole and ground spices. These are required to get the warm flavors. 

Cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves are used whole. Turmeric powder, Garam masala and red chili powder are used ground. 

Garam Masala is a flavorful blend of Indian spices and is used in several Indian recipes. Having some store bought blend helps make all these recipes quickly. It can be made at home using this recipe too.

Indian Thali-naan, paneer akbari, rice, salad and raita

Steps to make Akbari Paneer

1- Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, ginger and green chili. Sauté till the raw flavor vanishes. 

2- Add onions and cook them for 5-6 minutes, till soft. 

Akbari Paneer-Steps 1

3- Add diced tomatoes and mix well. Let them soften for a few minutes.

Akbari Paneer-Steps 2

4- Now add red chili powder, ground turmeric and garam masala. Mix well.

5- Cook for 6-7 minutes till the tomatoes become mushy. 

Akbari Paneer-Steps 3

6- Add water and season with salt and sugar. Mix well and bring to a boil. 

Akbari Paneer-Steps 4

7- Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Blend till smooth. 

8- Transfer to a bowl using a fine mesh colander. Discard the seeds and peels.

Akbari Paneer-Steps 5

9- In a pan heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. 

10- Add cumin seeds and the whole spices. Sauté till fragrant. 

Akbari Paneer-Steps 6

11- Add some butter and add the colored peppers. Sauté till slightly soft but not mushy.

Akbari Paneer-Steps 7

12- Transfer all the prepared sauce and stir well. Bring to a boil.

13- Add tomato paste and mix it in.

Akbari Paneer-Steps 8

14- Add cream and shredded paneer. Also add kasoori methi and stir everything well.

Akbari Paneer-Steps 9

15- Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately with naan, roti or parathas.

Bowl of shredded paneer curry, Akbari Paneer

Tips and Notes

  • Cook the paneer only for a couple of minutes. Over cooking it will result in chewy paneer. 

  • The whole spices can be left in the gravy or fished out before serving. 

  • Other vegetables like beans, carrots, peas and corn can be added along with peppers. 

  • Akbari Paneer can be refrigerated for 3 days in an airtight container. It can be frozen for upto 3 months. Reheat to serve. 
Bowl of shredded paneer curry, Akbari Paneer

Recipe Card
Yield: 3
Author: Smruti
Akbari Paneer

Akbari Paneer

A silky smooth tomato and cream based gravy with shredded paneer. Akbari Paneer is a rich Mughlai inspired recipe that can be served with naan, parathas or rice!
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 55 Min

Ingredients

  • Paneer 1 cup, shredded
  • Onion 1/2 cup, diced
  • Tomatoes 3/4 cup, quartered
  • Tricolored peppers 1 cup, cubed
  • Garlic 2 cloves, minced
  • Ginger 1/2 inch piece, minced
  • Green Chili 1 minced (optional)
  • Tomato Paste 1 tbsp
  • Bay Leaves 2-3
  • Cloves 3-4
  • Green and Black Cardamom 1 each
  • Cinnamon Stick 1
  • Mustard Seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
  • Salt 1 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar 1 tsp
  • Kasoori Methi 1 tsp
  • Oil 4 tbsp
  • Whipping Cream 2 tbsp

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add garlic, ginger and green chili. Sauté till the raw flavor vanishes.
  2. Add onions and cook them for 5-6 minutes, till soft.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and mix well. Let them soften for a few minutes.
  4. Now add red chili powder, ground turmeric and garam masala. Mix well.
  5. Cook for 6-7 minutes till the tomatoes become mushy.
  6. Add water and season with salt and sugar. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Blend till smooth.
  8. Transfer to a bowl using a fine mesh colander. Discard the seeds and peels.
  9. In a pan heat the remaining oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop.
  10. Add cumin seeds and the whole spices. Sauté till fragrant.
  11. Add some butter and add the colored peppers. Sauté till slightly soft but not mushy.
  12. Transfer all the prepared sauce and stir well. Bring to a boil.
  13. Add tomato paste and mix it in.
  14. Add cream and shredded paneer. Also add kasoori methi and stir everything well.
  15. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • Cook the paneer only for a couple of minutes. Over cooking it will result in chewy paneer. 
  • The whole spices can be left in the gravy or fished out before serving. 
  • Other vegetables like beans, carrots, peas and corn can be added along with peppers. 
  • Akbari Paneer can be refrigerated for 3 days in an airtight container. It can be frozen for upto 3 months. Reheat to serve. 


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Instant Pot Masale Bhaat

An easy one pot meal using rice, vegetables and a special spice blend called Goda masala. 

This recipe for Masale Bhaat comes together perfectly in the Instant Pot and is best enjoyed with some yogurt on the side. 

Bowl of Maharashtrian Masale Bhaat, a mix vegetable and rice preparation.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

One pot meals are such great saviors on busy days. May it be weeknight meals or weekend lunch, these recipes are always handy.

Rice is an ingredient that fits so many requirements. It is easy to make, can be made using one pot and can be served in SO many different ways. 

From pulao or biryani to simple recipes like lemon rice or fried rice all have the same core ingredient but taste so varied. Rice is easy to make in the instant pot, pressure cooker or even a pan. This versatility of the grain is my favorite. 

Masale Bhaat is one such recipe. It is a pulao or a mixed vegetable and rice preparation that is made with a special blend of spices. It comes together wonderfully in the instant pot and is totally customizable. 

What is Masale Bhaat?

A popular Maharashtrian dish made using rice, Masale Bhaat is often served at Maharashtrian weddings and other religious gatherings. It is also a recipe that is generally made on Ganesh Chaturthi.

It is a kind of a pulao made using rice, vegetables like eggplant, peas, potatoes and carrots along with a spice blend called goda masala. This spice blend adds a lot of taste and flavor to the rice. 

For a meal, this rice can be served with yogurt, raita or even kadhi. Add in some papadam and pickle and you have a complete meal!

While this recipe is popular at weddings; it is also a great tiffin meal or lunch box option. Super flavorful by itself, it does not need a lot sides making it easy to carry in a box.

Plate of mixed vegetables, rice and spices.

Ingredients

Rice: This recipe for Masale Bhaat can be made using either long basmati rice or short grain rice like ambe mor or kali jeera. 

While any kind of white rice works for the recipe, pick a variety that will not become very dry on cooking. That way the end result is moist and can be eaten without a need of a side. 

Plus, the water in this recipe is slightly more than a biryani recipe. This is because the grains need not be totally separate in this one. 

Vegetables: A mix of vegetables is generally used in the recipe. The MOST popular vegetables are eggplant, carrots, ivy gourd(tendli), peas, cauliflower and potatoes. 

Use a mix of all of these or pick your favorites. However, try not to skip the eggplants in this recipe. They give a lot of taste to the recipe. 

If you make the same recipe with just eggplants, it will become the popular Vangi Bhaat recipe. And adding just ivy gourd you can make tendli Masale Bhaat. 

Goda masala: A special spice blend called Goda Masala is used in this Masale Bhaat recipe. This can be bought from the Indian store or Amazon or made at home. I have used the store bought masala in this recipe.  

Oil: Any neutral oil will work for this recipe. Making it in ghee is an option too. 

Spices and seasonings: The recipe for Masale Bhaat uses garlic, ginger, green chili and curry leaves for flavor. 

The seasonings include salt and turmeric powder. Most of the flavor is in the goda masala and so not too many things are added here. 

The rice is topped with shredded coconut and cilantro. It tastes BEST with these. Try not to skip the coconut. 

Using the Instant Pot for the recipe

The Instant Pot works wonderfully in the recipe. It helps make everything in one pot and under 30 minutes. 

I like to use it as I can add all the vegetables, rice and spices to it and cook them all together. No need to cook the rice and vegetables separate. 

However, the recipe can also be made in the regular pan. Cook the rice in a pan or pressure cooker and add it to the other ingredients after they have been cooked separate. This takes longer than the Instant Pot method but works fine. 

Masale bhaat in bowl with instant pot in background.

Tips and Notes

  • Use any long grain or short grain white rice for this Masale Bhaat recipe. Basmati, Ambe Mor or Kali Jeera works well. If using brown rice, adjust the cooking time to 22 minutes on the Instant Pot. 

  • To make this recipe in a jiffy, use any frozen vegetable mix you have at hand. Add some eggplants if you can. 

  • The Masale Bhaat is Vegan if made with oil. It can also be made with ghee but does not remain Vegan. 

  • Sauté all the spices in oil before adding any water to the instant pot. This ensures the spices become flavorful and result in a flavorful recipe. 

Method

1- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil in it. 


2- Once hot, add mustard seeds and asafetida. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop.

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- sauté spices.

3- Add ginger and garlic and sauté till the raw flavor vanishes. 

4- Next add slit green chili and curry leaves. Sauté for a couple of seconds.

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- ginger, garlic, chili, curry leaves


5- Add sliced onions and cook them for 5-6 minutes, till soft.

6- Next add in the Goda Masala and turmeric powder. Season with salt and sauté the masalas for a minute.

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- sauté onions, masalas


7- Now add the tomatoes and coo them for a few minutes till soft. 


8- Tip in the mixed vegetables. 

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- add veggies and tomatoes


9- The eggplants go in next. 


10- Add the rice and mix well. 

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- add rice


11- Now add the water and mix. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release for 5 minutes after and open the Instant Pot. 

Steps to make instant pot masale bhaat- add water and cook

12- Fluff the rice. Serve hot topped with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut. 

serve masale bhaat in plate topped with cilantro and coconut

Yield: 3
Author: Smruti
Instant Pot Masale Bhaat

Instant Pot Masale Bhaat

An easy one pot meal using rice, vegetables and a special spice blend called Goda masala. This recipe for Masale Bhaat comes together perfectly in the Instant Pot and is best enjoyed with some yogurt on the side.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 5 MinInactive time: 10 MinTotal time: 30 Min

Ingredients

  • White Rice 1 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Mixed Vegetables 1 cup (Potato, carrots, cauliflower, peas)
  • Diced Eggplant 1/2 cup
  • Sliced Onion 1/2 cup
  • Tomato 3/4 cup, diced
  • Ginger 1 inch piece, grated
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and diced
  • Curry Leaves 4-5
  • Green Chili 1 slit lengthwise
  • Mustard Seeds 1/4 tsp
  • Asafetida a pinch
  • Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
  • Goda masala 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt 1 1/2 tsp
  • Oil 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Water 2 1/4 cup
  • Cilantro to top
  • Shredded coconut 2-3 tbsp to top

Instructions

  1. Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil in it.
  2. Once hot, add mustard seeds and asafetida. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop.
  3. Add ginger and garlic and sauté till the raw flavor vanishes.
  4. Add slit green chili and curry leaves. Sauté for a couple of seconds.
  5. Add sliced onions and cook them for 5-6 minutes, till soft.
  6. Next add in the Goda Masala and turmeric powder. Season with salt and sauté the masalas for a minute.
  7. Now add the tomatoes and coo them for a few minutes till soft.
  8. Tip in the mixed vegetables.
  9. The eggplants go in next.
  10. Add the rice and mix well.
  11. Now add the water and mix. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release for 5 minutes after and open the Instant Pot. Fluff the rice.
  12. Serve hot topped with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut.

Notes:

  • Use any long grain or short grain white rice for this Masale Bhaat recipe. Basmati, Ambe Mor or Kali Jeera works well. If using brown rice, adjust the cooking time to 22 minutes on the Instant Pot. 
  • To make this recipe in a jiffy, use any frozen vegetable mix you have at hand. Add some eggplants if you can. 
  • The Masale Bhaat is Vegan if made with oil. It can also be made with ghee but does not remain Vegan. 
  • Sauté all the spices in oil before adding any water to the instant pot. This ensures the spices become flavorful and result in a flavorful recipe. 

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