Understanding Paneer Pasanda
Paneer Pasanda, translating to ‘Favorite Paneer,’ is a revered North Indian dish celebrated for its distinctive flavor and indulgent gravy. The dish showcases soft paneer sandwiches, intricately stuffed with a blend of nuts, spices, khoya (milk solids), paneer, and herbs. Fried to a crisp perfection, these sandwiches are then served in a luscious orange-hued gravy, setting Paneer Pasanda apart from its fellow paneer-based counterparts like Butter Masala, Paneer Makhani, or Shahi Paneer. Ideally paired with fluffy Basmati Rice, Butter Naan, Tandoori Roti, or plain Parathas, this dish is a culinary delight that caters to diverse palates.
Origins of Paneer Pasanda
The origins of Paneer Pasanda are somewhat unclear, with possibilities rooted in Mughal kitchens or evolving from existing Indian cooking traditions. The term ‘Pasanda’ was traditionally associated with prime cuts of meat served during the Mughal era. With a significant vegetarian population in India, Paneer Pasanda emerged as a vegetarian alternative. The ingenious adaptation involves creating thin strips of paneer filled with a mix of nuts, spices, khoya, and herbs. The restaurant version often includes dipping these paneer slices in a corn flour batter before pan-frying, although a simplified method is presented here for ease.
Crafting Paneer Pasanda at Home
Paneer Sandwich Preparation
The key to elevating Paneer Pasanda lies in the flavorful stuffing. Utilizing Coriander chutney or Green chutney in the filling is pivotal, acting as the heart of this dish. The addition of this chutney transforms the sandwich fillings, making Paneer Pasanda truly special. The sandwiches, comprising two thin slices of paneer filled with the stuffing, are pan-fried in ghee for a delectable result.
Rich and Heavy Gravy
The accompanying rich and heavy gravy distinguishes Paneer Pasanda from other paneer-based dishes. Comprising ingredients like paneer, cashews, tomatoes, yogurt, and spices, the gravy serves as a luxurious accompaniment. This flavorful component makes Paneer Pasanda an ideal choice for special occasions such as weekend dinners, festive meals like Diwali, or celebratory gatherings.
Step-by-Step Guide to Paneer Pasanda
- Begin by finely chopping or processing onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and soaking cashews.
- Saute onions, ginger, and garlic until fragrant, then add tomatoes and continue cooking until soft.
- Introduce soaked cashews, yogurt, and spice powders, saute until the mixture thickens and oil separates.
- Cool and blend this mixture into a smooth paste.
- In a pan, heat ghee, saute bay leaf, cinnamon, and cardamom, then add the blended mixture.
- Stir well, add salt and sugar, and cook until the gravy thickens and oil separates.
- Introduce paneer cubes and cook briefly.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice, naan, or roti.
Paneer Pasanda is a culinary masterpiece that captures the essence of North Indian flavors. With its aromatic stuffing, delectable sandwiches, and a rich gravy, this dish stands as a testament to the diverse and vibrant world of Indian cuisine. I hope this exploration of Paneer Pasanda inspires you to embark on a delightful culinary journey in your own kitchen.