You made a big batch of paneer tikka, and now you wonder what to make of the left overs?
The answer is simple - make a paneer tikka masala gravy. Paneer tikka, the smoky Punjabi appetizer, (can also be eaten as one whole meal) easily slides into a creamy gravy and tastes best with some hot naans or rotis. I must warn that this is not one of those light-on-the-palette dishes. It's rich, savoury, and one serving may leave you feeling extremely full!
Post a barbecue, the vegetables, meat or paneer are well roasted and succulent. Tossing into a gravy helps in an easy utilization of leftovers, and I make sure no food goes waste. Having said that, I wouldn't say that paneer tikka masala is only the result of leftover paneer tikka. It's a coveted item on the menu of many Indian restaurants and grandly served in parties or weddings!
Paneer tikka masala should not be confused with paneer butter masala. Paneer tikka involves pre-cooking and grilling the marinated paneer before adding it to the gravy. Paneer butter masala is cooked in a different set of spices and does not involve pre-cooking of paneer. It's not as spice as paneer tikka, and tends on the slightly sweeter side of the flavour scale.
If you choose to make this dish as a fresh one, and not from leftover paneer tikkas, I must say that the procedure is longer and you may need to devote about one and a half to two hours!
Note: If you have pre-cooked tikkas, you can move to the ingredients for the gravy.
250-300 grams paneer cut into cubes
2-3 medium bell peppers cut into cubes
1 medium red onion cut into quarters
1 medium firm tomato (red or green) cut into quarters
1/2 cup yogurt (use vegan yogurt to make this dish vegan)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp kasoori methi
1 tsp roughly crushed ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tbsp mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp roasted besan (chickpea flour)
1 tbsp degi mirch (red chili powder) or paprika
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tsp lime juice if the yogurt is not sour
1 tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder (Kashmiri would be best)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tomato pureed
A small portion of the marination mixture
1/2 cup cashew paste
1 cup water
1 tsp kasoori methi
Note: If you have pre-cooked tikkas, you can move to the instructions under "make the gravy."
Marinate the veggies and paneer
In a bowl, add the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, 1/2 tsp kasoori methi and 1/2 tbsp oil, and mix well.
Next add crushed carom seeds, salt, roasted chickpea flour, turmeric and red chili powder, and mix again. You can add a few drops of lime juice if the yogurt is not sour.
Keep aside a small portion of this marination for the gravy.
Add the paneer and veggies into this marination mixture and coat them well. Skewer the vegetables and paneer and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
Grill or bake the paneer:
If using a grill pan:
Heat 1/2 tbsp oil on the pan and place the skewers on it.
Roast the paneer and veggies by turning them over once in a while to get a char on most sides. Set aside.
If using an oven:
Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F.
Place an aluminium foil on a baking dish or tray or keep a cooling rack on an oven safe pan, and set aside.
Brush the paneer and veggies with 1/2 tbsp oil.
Place the skewers on the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, turning once after every 5 minutes to cook all sides of the cubes.
After 15 minutes, switch on the broiler and broil the veggies and the paneer for 2-3 minutes to get a char on their surfaces. Remove carefully and set aside.
Make the gravy:
Add oil in a pan or wok on medium heat.
Add the bay leaf, and then the onions. Sauté till the onions turn pinkish.
Add the ginger-garlic paste, and sauté again. Next add the dry spices mentioned in the ingredients for gravy.
Once the onions, ginger garlic and spice mixture is fragrant and turns golden grown, add the tomato puree and then the cashew paste. Let the tomatoes and cashew paste cook slightly, and then add the leftover marination mixture. Mix everything well.
Add 1 cup of water and let it start boiling. Adjust the seasoning and consistency of the gravy at this stage.
Toss in the grilled/baked paneer and veggies into this mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for about 7 minutes, and then turn off the heat.
Open and sprinkle kasoori methi after coarsely crushing in between your palms!