Paneer Kalimirch (Paneer Cheese with a Coconut Milk, Onion and Cashew Gravy with Black Pepper and Spices)

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Paneer Kalimirch

Although many of my main meals are vegan, I can never resist the allure of succulent paneer cheese for too long. The cheese does not have a whole lot of flavor on its own — although I do enjoy snacking on little bites of it while I prep a dish — but paneer is a wonderful vehicle for taking on the spices and seasonings present in a dish. It has a texture much like firm tofu, but it's real cheese without the soya. There really is no substitute, but if you want to make it vegan, then use cubes of firm tofu instead.

Traditionally, this dish of paneer cheese simmered in a thick flavorful onion and cashew gravy is made with cream or yogurt, but as there was already cheese in the dish, I decided to mix things up and use coconut milk instead to cut down on the richness. The coconut milk still resulted in a creamy gravy and it was just as delicious as dairy alternatives. It's such an easy dish to prepare and pan-frying paneer ahead of adding it to the dish is unnecessary in this instance. Just cube it and add it to the spicy gravy. As for the spice component, it on the lower side of the spectrum in terms of heat, but as always, most Indian dishes are forgiving, so adjust the spicing to suit your preference and add more onion to the paste if that is to your taste.

Paneer Cheese with a Coconut Milk Gravy

Paneer Kalimirch (Paneer Cheese with a Coconut Milk, Onion and Cashew Gravy with Black Pepper and Spices)Paneer Kalimirch (Paneer Cheese with a Coconut Milk, Onion and Cashew Gravy with Black Pepper and Spices)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on June 15, 2015

Tender pieces of paneer cheese simmered in a creamy and colorful coconut milk, onion and cashew gravy

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Onion-cashew paste:
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 to 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water, or more as needed
  • 12 oz (350 g) paneer cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Soak the cashews in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain. Combine the cashews, onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and a little of the water in a small food processor or blender. Process until you have a fairly smooth paste, adding a little more water as needed to help blend the ingredients. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. When hot, add the cumin seeds and fry until they begin to darken a few shades.

  • Stir in the onion-cashew paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Now add the black pepper, turmeric, ground coriander and amchoor powder if using and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Stir in the paneer, peas and salt. Simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Add more water for desired consistency.

  • Remove from heat, stir in the garam masala, and let stand for 10 minutes or longer, covered, to allow the flavors to blend.

  • Refrigerate leftovers for 2 to 3 days. Reheat at a low temperature with added water.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Paneer Cheese with a Coconut Milk Gravy, Black Pepper and Spices

Other paneer dishes from Lisa's Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)
Indian-Style Macaroni and Paneer Cheese with Spinach
Massaman Curry with Paneer Cheese
Saag Paneer (Palak Paneer)

I'm sharing this with Jacqueline's Meat Free Mondays. Each week Monday, Jac highlights some of the submissions from the week before.

On the top of the reading stack: Vegan Everyday: 500 Delicious Recipes

Audio: sweet silence for a change


Eileen said...

Yes, please! This curry sounds so amazing. I need to get some paneer and give it a try!

Joanne said...

Paneer is one of my favorites! I've never seen it served with a coconut milk based sauce like this. Yum.

Kitchen Shaman said...

Your photos always make me hungry. This is one I really should try with the tofu. I can smell the spices rising from the pan as I read. Thanks for sharing.