Paneer Bhurji…seems like forever that I have posted a paneer dish…sacrilege!! Paneer dishes in restaurants most of the time are overcooked, over-fried and laden with heavy sauces with an extra double dose of oil/butter…the Bhurji made at home on the other hand is minimally spiced and barely cooked for a couple of minutes. The secret to making a good Paneer Bhurji is using fresh homemade paneer…let me say it again – Homemade AND Fresh. You can grate and use shop bought paneer but that melt-in-the-mouth feel goes missing...it will still be nice but you will end up wondering what in God’s name was I raving about…so do make the effort...And you know when it is me endorsing to do something, it will not really require too much effort J
Paneer Bhurji (Scrambled Indian Cottage Cheese cooked with onions and tomatoes)
If using Fresh Homemade Paneer:
- Whole milk, 1 litre
- Fresh ‘live’ yogurt, around 3 tbsp and Lemon juice, around 2 tsp
- Lemon Juice, around 2 tbsp
If using Store-bought Paneer:
- Paneer, grated using a box grater, around 200 gms
- Cumin seeds, ½ tsp
- Onion, finely chopped, 1 medium
- Tomato, finely chopped, 2 medium
- Green chilies, 1-2 (optional, or remove the seeds)
- Kashmiri Red Chili powder/Paprika, ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder, ¼ tsp
- Salt, to taste
- Butter, 1 tsp (or more J)
- Oil, 2 tsp (and again…or more!!)
- Fresh Coriander leaves, finely chopped, a few
Heat milk in a heavy-based pan till it comes to boil. Once the milk starts to boil and rise up, lower the heat and stir in the yogurt and the lemon juice.
Stir gently to mix and help the milk curdle. It should take about 30 seconds or so (if it doesn’t, add some more yogurt/lemon juice and keep stirring).
Once you see the curds coagulate and greenish watery whey separate, remove the pan from heat.
Strain the mixture through a muslin/ cheesecloth in a strainer. (Save the whey and refer to notes section) Run some cold water through the paneer.
Wrap the paneer in the muslin and hang from the kitchen tap over the sink for about 10-15 minutes to let the excess water drain off. Remove in a bowl and keep aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan. Once the butter melts, add in the cumin seeds. When they start spluttering, add in the onions. Sauté till the onions turn translucent.
Add in the green chilies, coriander leaves, Kashmiri red chili powder and turmeric. Mix and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Add in the chopped tomatoes and salt. Stir well, lower the heat and let the masala cook till tomatoes go mushy and the oil separates.
Now stir in the paneer into the onion and tomato masala and let everything cook together for a minute of two. Don’t overcook as it will go dry. And Done!
Serve with rotis, paranthas, bread or as a sandwich filler...at breakfast, lunch or dinner J
- Do use whole milk for this dish. Using skimmed or semi skimmed milk doesn’t help much in reducing the fat content but it reduces the amount of paneer you get out of the milk quite significantly. It also results in a slightly drier paneer as well.
- A mix of yogurt and lemon juice results in a softer paneer and also results in more paneer when compared to only using lemon juice or vinegar.
- I should have taken a picture of the process but…L… so here is what the paneer looks like after the water has been drained out. There is no need to press the paneer or hang in the cloth for more than 10 minutes.
- If you can get hold of only shop bought frozen paneer, do thaw it first and immerse in hot water for 10-15 minutes to make it softer before grating.
- If you are using store bought paneer (whether fresh or frozen), add a couple of tablespoons of milk along with the paneer to the pan.
- You can add other vegetables if you like but remember paneer is the “hero” here, neither too many veggies nor too many contrasting flavours and textures....definitely not green bell pepper/capsicum but other colour bell peppers are good to go since they are sweeter..and peas ( small and tender ones)
- Use the whey leftover from the homemade paneer to knead dough, cook your dal and beans in, use it instead of water to make your stock, mix it in equal proportion with any fruit juice and drink up!