Methi Paneer (Cottage cheese with fenugreek leaves)

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I was looking for some new dishes to try out for a dinner I was hosting, when  I came across Methi Malai Paneer (Courtsey Veg Recipes of India).  I did not want to make the usual Paneer dishes and this looked different and tasty.  Paneer with a hint of bitterness from the fenugreek (methi) leaves in a mild and creamy gravy turned out to be delicious and a big hit at my party.  It tastes good paired with naan/roti or zeera rice/pulao.

What you need:

200 to 250 grams paneer/cottage cheese, cut in cubes or squares

1 cup tightly packed fresh methi leaves/fenugreek leaves or 2 tbsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chili powder

½ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp garam masala powder

1 cup water 

¼ cup fresh cream

2 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

salt to taste

For masala paste:

2 medium onions

1 small tomato

1 inch ginger, chopped 

5 to 6 small garlic cloves

1 tsp chopped green chili

2 tbsp cashews, chopped

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp oil

How to make:

1.  Cut and chop methi leaves finely and rinse well.  Keep aside.
2.  For masala paste:
 – Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds.
 – Once the seeds start spluttering, add the chopped onions and stir well.  
–  When the onions become light brown, add ginger, garlic, green chillies and cashewnuts.  Stir well for about 2-3 minutes.
 – Now add the tomatoes and mix well.  Saute till the tomatoes soften.
 – Keep aside till this mixture cools down. Then grind this masala adding just enough water to make a smooth paste.
3.  Now add 2 tbsp oil to the same pan.  Once hot, add the methi leaves and saute well.
4.  Add the dry spices one by one – haldi, red chili powder and coriander powder.  Stir the spices well with the methi leaves.
5.  Add the ground masala paste to this and mix well.  Saute this for 7-8 mins on low flame, stirring from time to time. When  you see the oil releasing from the sides, add 1 cup of water.  Mix well and add the salt.
6.  Simmer on low flame for 3-4 minutes and then add the cream (low fat is also good).  Stir the cream well with the methi masala.
7.  Add the paneer cubes and garam masala.  You can add 1/2 tsp sugar if you want the gravy to be slightly sweet.
Simmer on low flame for a couple of minutes.
8.  Serve hot with roti or naan.  The creamy gravy also goes well with zeera rice or pulao.
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