This is a really good paneer achari recipe. The robustness of the pickling spices or achari masala makes its presence felt without getting overpowered. The light sourness of the fresh curd complements the flavors of the spices. The taste of achari paneer is similar to that of Achari paneer tikka but what you get is soft paneer pieces in a smooth creamy gravy.
Pickling Spices For Paneer Achari
- ▢1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ▢1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ▢1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ▢½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
- ▢¼ teaspoon methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
Other Ingredients For Paneer Achari
- ▢200 to 250 grams Paneer chopped in cubes or squares (cottage cheese)
- ▢1 cup fresh whole milk curd (yogurt) or 240 grams curd
- ▢1.5 teaspoon ginger-green chili paste or ½ inch ginger + 1 or 2 green chilies
- ▢2 dry red chilies
- ▢1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- ▢1 medium tomato chopped, about 1/3 cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes, 75 to 80 grams of tomatoes
- ▢10 to 12 cashews or 2 tablespoon cashews or 2 tablespoon cashew powder
- ▢¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ▢½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ▢½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
- ▢¼ teaspoon cumin powder – optional
- ▢1 or 2 teaspoon of mango pickle masala (optional)
- ▢1 to 1.5 tablespoon besan (gram flour)
- ▢½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- ▢3 tablespoon low fat cream
- ▢2 tablespoon rice bran oil or sunflower oil or mustard oil or ghee
- ▢1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
- ▢1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
- ▢salt as required
Roasting Pickling Spices
- First take the achari or pickling spices in a pan – 1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf, 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera, 1 tsp mustard seeds/rai or sarson, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds/kalonji and 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds/methi dana.
- Heat the pan and on a low flame roast the spices till they are fragrant. Don’t brown them.
- Once cooled, add the spices in a small dry grinder or spice grinder and grind to a semi fine powder.
- Remove the achari masala powder and keep aside in a bowl.
Making Masala Base For Achari Paneer
- In the same grinder, add 10 to 12 cashews.
- Grind to a fine powder. If oil releases while grinding then its fine.
- In a bowl, take 1 cup fresh whole milk curd/yogurt and whisk it till smooth. Use fresh curd and not sour curd.
- Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil or sunflower oil or ghee in a pan.
- On a low flame, add 2 dry red chilies and a generous pinch of asafoetida. Saute for some seconds till the red chilies change color.
- Then add 1.5 tsp ginger-green chili paste – about 1/2 inch ginger + 1 or 2 green chilies crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle. Stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger goes away.
- Then add 1/3 cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes.
- Stir and add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and 1/4 tsp cumin powder (optional).
- Again stir very well and saute the tomatoes till the tomatoes soften completely and become pulpy. You should also see oil releasing from the sides.
- Now add the cashew powder. If using store brough cashew powder, then add 2 tbsp cashew powder. Do check the shelf life of store brought cashew powder before adding.
- On a low to medium flame, stir and saute the mixture for 2 minutes after adding cashew powder.
- Reserve 1 tsp of the ground achari masala and add the rest. Stir very well.
- Add 1 tbsp besan. We are adding besan so that the curd does not curdle.
- Stir the besan very well and incorporate it into the rest of the masala.
Making Paneer Achari Gravy
- Keep the flame on a low and add the beaten curd.
- As soon as you add the curd, begin to stir the mixture quickly and fast. Stirring quickly, incorporate the curd well into the rest of the masala.
- Add salt as per taste.
- Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.
- Add the paneer cubes. 200 or 250 grams paneer chopped in cubes.
- Cook the paneer cubes for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Then add 3 tbsp low fat fresh cream and 1/2 tsp kasuri methi, which has been crushed in the paneer achari gravy. Stir very well.
- Switch off the flame and add 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and 1 tsp chopped mint leave & stir again.
- While serving sprinkle the reserved achari masala from top and garnish with a coriander or mint sprig. Serve achari paneer masala with tandoori rotis, chapatis or naan.