Friday, May 15, 2009

Paneer Koftas in Malai Gravy(Cottage Cheese in Creamy Sauce)

Did I win any cash prize? Did I get a salary hike? Is there any special occasion? Are guests coming? No, No, No. Then why on earth I need to cook such expensive dish at home? This is the inner feeling I get whenever I decide to prepare some North Indian gravies made out of cream, butter or cashews.

If you need to know the reason behind that, continue reading. During our college days, we used to literally crave for good food as most of us were staying away from parents. The cheap & best option that we found was the Bangalore-Mysore Highway dhabas. The not-so-clean, roadside dhabas served awesome food at unimaginably low price. We used get a dal tadka for 12 rupees, dal makhni for 20 or so. Normal tandoori roti was served at 2 rupees. We, a batch of 6-8 friends used to wait for the city bus running beween Mysore to Srirangapatna , stop at “Delhi Choice Dhaba” & start hogging. We used to share the expenses later. Hence, all used to keep a close watch on the menu card. We never used to order malai kofta, paneer kofta, paneer tikka & other dishes, as the price of the side dish used to be close to 30 rupees. We all were so stingy then :)

Nevertheless, when we got a chance to get treated for birthday, we used to order all such expensive dishes to increase the bill. Not only that, guys used to go for a walk in-between meal to ensure the food is digested. After their walk, they used to order some more dishes or desserts, phew!! Shameless people. Whatever it is, we all thoroughly enjoyed our graduation days to the maximum & they are cherished forever.

The price of the kofta curries is so much imbibed in my mind that even now I start thinking about the expenses involved in preparing this dish. These days in addition to the expenses I think of another number i.e. calories intake. Poor me!!

Translations:
Malai : Cream
Paneer : Indian Cottage Cheese
Gravy: Sauce

Ingredients:
For koftas:
1 cup paneer/cottage cheese grated
1 cup mashed & boiled potato
1/4th cup green peas (boiled)
1/4th cup grated carrot
4-5tbsp corn flour
1 tsp lemon/lime juice
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp chat masala
½ tsp cumin seed powder
1 bread slice
Salt according to taste
A pinch of sugar (optional)
Oil for deep frying

For gravy:
2 medium sized onions
3 tomatoes (blanched & pureed)
1 tsp garlic paste
3/4th cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 tsp kitchen king masala (Thanks to Sia of Monsoon Spice for this special ingredient)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander seeds powder
2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
½ tsp garam masala (optional)
8-10 cashew nuts soaked in water/milk
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:
For koftas:
  • Dip the bread slice in water for a second, squeeze out the water completely & mash it thoroughly.
  • Mix all the ingredients mentioned for koftas (except oil) along with the mashed bread slice in a large boil. Make lemon sized balls out of the mixture.
  • Heat oil in a broad pan, when oil is hot, deep fry the balls on a slow flame. Keep turning the koftas as it turns brown very fast.
  • When koftas turn golden brown, remove it from oil & drain excess oil by keeping them on an absorbent paper.

For creamy sauce: (Cooking time : 20-25mins)
  • Finely chop the onions & keep them aside.
  • Prepare a paste from the soaked cashew nuts & poppy seeds.
  • Heat oil in a broad pan, when oil is hot add finely chopped onions & saute it on a medium flame until it is completely soft & slightly brownish (takes around 5 minutes)
  • Add garlic paste & saute again. To this, add blanched tomato puree, kasuri methi & cook it on a slow flame for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add coriander seeds powder, salt, red chilli powder, kitchen king masala, cashew-poppy seeds paste & cook on a slow flame (2-3 minutes)
  • Finally add cream, garam masala & boil the sauce for another 5-7 minutes.
Serving:
  • On a serving dish, add the gravy prepared & place the koftas in the gravy.
  • Serve it hot with roti, naan or kulcha.

Note:
  • Deep fry the koftas on a very slow flame as it turns brown very fast.
  • While sauting the onions for gravy, cook on a medium flame until it becomes soft & ensure it doesn't turn brown. (If onions become brown or gets charred, the malai gravy becomes a little bitter & wont get that sweetness)
  • Tomato flavor shouldnot become prominent in this gravy, hence blanch the tomatoes before preparing the puree.This would remove the raw smell of tomatoes.