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dishes made with paneer

35 Dishes Made With Paneer | The Super Indian Collection

In a world increasingly embracing vegetarian delights, Indian cuisine continues to tantalize taste buds with its vibrant flavours and textures. At the heart of many beloved Indian dishes lies paneer, a fresh, white cheese unlike any other. This delightful curd boasts a unique ability to soak up spices and transform into a culinary chameleon.

In this article dishes made with Paneer, we will embark on a delicious odyssey to explore the vast culinary potential of this versatile cheese. We’ll delve into its many forms, from melt-in-your-mouth curries to crispy street food delights, and uncover the secrets to creating restaurant-worthy paneer dishes at home.

Key Takeaways from this article: Dishes made with paneer

  1. Paneer: A Versatile Cheese: Paneer is a fresh, non-aged cheese that absorbs spices beautifully, making it a chameleon in the kitchen.
  2. Types of Paneer: The texture of paneer varies depending on pressing – soft (crumbly), medium-firm (most common), and firm (ideal for frying). Choose the right type for your dish.
  3. A World of Paneer Curries: From creamy delights like Butter Paneer and Palak Paneer to fiery Kadai Paneer and comforting Matar Paneer, paneer shines in curries.
  4. Beyond Curries: Paneer’s versatility extends to dry dishes like Paneer Tikka Masala (grilled paneer in gravy) and Chilli Paneer (Indo-Chinese delight), and even street food favourites like Paneer Pakoda (fritters).
  5. Regional Variations: Indian cuisine celebrates regional diversity. Explore North Indian favourites, South Indian coconut-based curries, and unique dishes from Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.
  6. Vegan Options: Craving paneer but following a plant-based diet? Firm tofu or seasoned TVP can be delicious substitutes in many paneer dishes.
  7. Endless Culinary Adventure: Paneer offers endless possibilities for creativity. Experiment with spices, regional variations, and plant-based alternatives to discover your own favourite paneer creations!

What is Paneer aka Cottage Cheese?

Paneer, a fresh, non-aged cheese, is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine. Unlike many Western cheeses, paneer doesn’t rely on rennet for curdling. Traditionally, it’s made by heating full-fat buffalo milk (or cow’s milk) and then adding an acidic element like lemon juice or vinegar. This causes the milk proteins to separate, forming soft curds.

Making paneer at home is surprisingly simple! After the curds separate, you strain them through cheesecloth, gently pressing out excess whey. The resulting cheese can be further pressed to achieve different textures:

  • Soft Paneer: This delicate variety has a fresh, milky taste and crumbles easily. It’s perfect for creamy dishes like Palak Paneer (spinach curry) where it absorbs the rich flavours.
  • Medium-Firm Paneer: This is the most common texture, offering a slightly firmer bite. It’s versatile and can be used in curries, stir-fries (like Paneer Bhurji), or even grilled dishes like Paneer Tikka.
  • Firm Paneer: This dense variety holds its shape well and is ideal for deep-frying or pan-frying. Dishes like Paneer Pakoda (fritters) or Chilli Paneer utilize this firmer texture.

The Alluring World of Dishes made with paneer

In Indian cuisine, there are a variety of dishes made with paneer. It is served as a snack, main course and even used in desserts. The list is deliciously extravagant and these dishes made with paneer form a crucial part of restaurant cuisines in India.

The Delicious Curries

  • Butter Paneer: The epitome of creamy comfort food, this dish features soft paneer cubes simmered in rich tomato and cashew-based gravy. A generous dollop of butter adds a touch of luxury and a decadent mouthfeel.
  • Palak Paneer: This vibrant green curry boasts a unique flavour profile. Fresh spinach forms the base, providing a subtle earthiness, while fragrant spices like cumin and coriander add warmth. Soft paneer cubes soak up the flavours, creating a delightful textural contrast.
  • Kadai Paneer: This fiery curry is a flavour explosion! Bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes are stir-fried with aromatic spices, creating a base for the tender paneer. The addition of chopped coriander leaves adds a burst of freshness, making it a perfect balance of heat and flavour.
  • Matar Paneer: A delightful combination of sweet green peas and pillowy paneer cubes, this curry offers a comforting and homey taste. The creamy tomato gravy is infused with warming spices like ginger and garam masala, making it perfect for a cosy meal.
  • Malai Kofta: These melt-in-your-mouth dumplings are a vegetarian’s delight. Minced paneer and vegetables are shaped into balls, deep-fried, and then simmered in a rich, creamy gravy flavoured with cashews and spices. Each bite is a burst of flavour and texture.

Dishes made with Paneer: Dry Snacks & Appetizers

Paneer’s versatility extends beyond curries, offering a plethora of dry dishes that tantalize the taste buds. Here’s a glimpse into this exciting world:

  • Paneer Tikka Masala: This restaurant favourite features marinated paneer cubes grilled or pan-fried until golden brown. They’re then tossed in a vibrant tomato-based gravy infused with aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. The result is a symphony of textures and flavors, with a hint of smokiness.
  • Paneer Bhurji (Scrambled Paneer): This quick and flavorful dish is a vegetarian’s answer to scrambled eggs. Crumbled paneer is stir-fried with chopped onions, tomatoes, and a vibrant blend of spices like turmeric, chilli powder, and garam masala. The dish is often finished with fresh coriander leaves, adding a pop of colour and freshness.
  • Chilli Paneer: This Indo-Chinese fusion dish packs a flavorful punch. Tender paneer cubes are marinated in a blend of soy sauce, ginger-garlic paste, and chillies, then deep-fried until crispy. They’re tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, creating a delightful interplay of textures and tastes. The use of chillies and bold spices elevates this dish to a whole new level, making it a favourite among spice enthusiasts.

Dishes made with Paneer: Street Food Delights

  • Paneer Pakoda: Bite-sized pieces of paneer are dipped in a chickpea flour batter, seasoned with spices, and deep-fried until golden brown. These crispy fritters offer a delightful textural contrast between the soft paneer and the crunchy exterior.
  • Paneer Roll: A delicious on-the-go option, this dish features a soft paratha (flatbread) stuffed with pan-fried paneer cubes, onions, and a touch of chutney. The combination of textures and flavours makes it a satisfying and flavorful street food experience.

Dishes made with Paneer: Beyond main courses

  • Paneer Pulao: This fragrant rice dish features marinated paneer cubes cooked alongside basmati rice, vegetables, and aromatic spices. The result is a flavorful and comforting one-pot meal, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
  • Paneer Paratha: Similar to a Paneer Roll, this flatbread is stuffed with a spiced paneer mixture and cooked on a griddle until golden brown. Each bite offers a delightful combination of textures and flavours, making it a delicious vegetarian breakfast or snack option.

Dishes made with Paneer: Regional Variations

The beauty of Indian cuisine lies in its regional diversity. Paneer dishes are no exception, taking on unique flavours and characteristics across the country. Here’s a glimpse into some popular North Indian paneer specialities:

North India

  • Palak Paneer (Spinach Paneer): A staple across India, this dish finds its roots in North India, where spinach is readily available.
  • Paneer Tikka Masala: While often considered a restaurant invention, this dish likely draws inspiration from North Indian marinades and creamy tomato gravies.
  • Kadai Paneer: This fiery curry is particularly popular in the northern regions, where the use of bell peppers is more prominent.
  • Matar Paneer (Peas and Paneer): This comforting dish is enjoyed throughout India, but North Indian versions often feature a richer tomato base.
  • Paneer Bhurji (Scrambled Paneer): A quick and flavorful breakfast staple across North India, this dish offers endless variations depending on the added spices and vegetables.
  • Achari Paneer: This tangy and spicy dish is a North Indian speciality, featuring paneer cubes cooked in a unique gravy flavoured with pickling spices

South India

  • Chettinad Paneer Masala: Inspired by the robust flavours of Chettinad cuisine, this dish features paneer cubes marinated in a blend of spices like chillies, coriander, and fennel seeds. It’s then cooked in a rich coconut-based gravy, often with the addition of roasted cashews for extra creaminess.
  • Malabar Paneer Curry: This Keralan dish features a creamy coconut milk base infused with fragrant spices like cardamom and cloves. Tender paneer cubes are simmered in the gravy, creating a comforting and flavorful experience.
  • Udupi Paneer Fry: This dish from Karnataka showcases the simplicity and freshness of South Indian cooking. Pan-fried paneer cubes are tossed with a vibrant mix of bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and seasoned with basic spices like turmeric and chilli powder. The result is a light and flavorful dish perfect for a quick meal.
  • Andhra Paneer Fry: Andhra Pradesh brings its signature heat to this dish. Marinated paneer cubes are pan-fried until crispy and then tossed in a spicy tomato-based gravy flavoured with red chillies and Guntur chilli powder. This dish is a fiery delight for those who love a good kick.
  • Paneer Varuval: This dish, popular in Tamil Nadu, features deep-fried paneer cubes tossed in a dry masala mix. The masala typically includes spices like coriander, cumin, and chillies, along with shredded coconut for added texture. This dish offers a delightful combination of crispy paneer and flavorful spices.

West Bengal

  • Chhena Dagga: This signature dish features soft, pillowy paneer dumplings simmered in a light, yoghurt-based gravy flavoured with mustard paste and panch phoron (five spice blend).
  • Aloo Posto with Paneer: A comforting combination of potatoes and paneer simmered in a rich poppy seed paste gravy. This dish is known for its earthy and nutty flavour profile.
  • Sondesh with Paneer: A delightful twist on the classic Bengali sweet, Sondesh. This version incorporates paneer for a unique texture and a subtle savoury note that complements the sweetness of the dish.

Odisha

  • Pakhala with Paneer Fry: A refreshing summer staple, Pakhala is a fermented rice dish. In Odisha, it’s often enjoyed with a side of crispy, pan-fried paneer cubes tossed in a simple yet flavorful spice mix.
  • Dahibara Aloo Chhena: This dish features dumplings made from a combination of lentil paste and crumbled paneer, simmered in a creamy yoghurt gravy with potatoes. The contrasting textures and tangy flavours make it a unique and delicious experience.
  • Chhena Poda: This baked cheesecake-like dessert is a true Odia speciality. Made with paneer, sugar, and a touch of cardamom, it offers a delightful balance of sweetness and a unique dense texture.

Bihar & Jharkhand

  • Litti Chokha with Paneer Bhurji: Litti, a stuffed flatbread typically filled with lentils or sattu (roasted gram flour), finds a delicious partner in Paneer Bhurji. The vibrant and flavorful scrambled paneer adds a delightful protein boost to this regional staple.
  • Paneer Pudina Curry: This unique curry features paneer cubes simmered in a gravy infused with fresh mint leaves. The mint adds a refreshing and cooling element, providing a delightful contrast to the richness of the paneer.

Maharashtra

  • Kolhapuri Paneer: This fiery dish hails from the Kolhapur region, known for its robust spice blends. Paneer cubes are marinated in a fiery “Kolhapuri Masala” paste, featuring red chillies, coriander seeds, and a unique blend of local spices. They’re then cooked in a rich gravy, offering a thrilling explosion of heat and flavour.
  • Paneer Pudina Usal: This dish showcases the vibrant flavours of Maharashtra. Fresh mint leaves take centre stage, providing a cooling contrast to the pan-fried paneer cubes. The gravy, infused with coconut and spices like turmeric and cumin, adds depth and complexity.

Gujarat

  • Surti Paneer: This creamy delight from Surat features soft paneer simmered in a rich gravy flavoured with peanuts and sesame seeds. The addition of a touch of jaggery adds a subtle sweetness, creating a unique and balanced flavour profile.
  • Paneer Thepla: Hailing from Gujarat, these savoury flatbreads are a delicious way to enjoy paneer. Grated paneer and spices are incorporated into the dough, resulting in flavorful pockets bursting with cheesy goodness.

Goa

  • Xacuti Paneer: This Goan dish features the region’s signature “Xacuti” masala, a vibrant blend of red chillies, coconut, and spices. Paneer cubes are marinated in this flavorful paste and then cooked in a creamy coconut milk-based gravy. The result is a dish that’s both rich and vibrant, showcasing the culinary influences of Goa.

Vegan Options 

  • Tofu: This versatile soy product can be a great substitute for paneer in many dishes. Firm tofu can be cubed, marinated, and cooked similarly to paneer, offering a similar texture and absorbing flavours well. Dishes like Palak Paneer or Matar Paneer can be easily adapted using seasoned and pan-fried tofu.
  • Beyond Meat or Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP): These plant-based options can be seasoned and cooked to create a satisfyingly meaty texture that mimics paneer in dishes like Paneer Bhurji or Chilli Paneer. Crumble or cube them, marinate them with your favourite spices, and stir-fry for a delicious vegan twist on these popular dishes.

Conclusion

From creamy curries to crispy street food delights, paneer’s versatility has taken us on a delicious journey through the culinary landscape of India. We’ve explored its ability to transform into melt-in-your-mouth delights in curries like Palak Paneer, its starring role in dry dishes like Paneer Tikka Masala, and even its unexpected presence in street food favourites like Paneer Pakoda.

But this is just the beginning! Paneer offers a blank canvas for endless culinary creativity. With a little exploration, you can unlock a world of flavour combinations and cooking techniques. Experiment with different spices, regional variations, and even plant-based alternatives to discover your own favourite paneer creations.

So, are you ready to embark on your own paneer adventure? We encourage you to explore the recipes mentioned here, experiment with your own flavour combinations, and share your favourite paneer recipes in the comments below! Let’s celebrate the endless possibilities this delightful cheese offers!

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