With so many delicious recipes swirling around on the internet, how does one rise to the top? Paneer Pasanda had a moment in 2022. Once you meet this beautiful dish, you’ll understand why. This meal takes patience and (and just about every spice in your pantry) Here’s what makes it magic.
Paneer, the fresh soft cheese, known for its appearances in the beloved Paneer Butter Masala and Saag Paneer, just to name a few, gets a full makeover in Pasanda. Paneer literally means cheese and “Pasanda” translates from a Hindi-Urdu word to “favorite.”
Whether store-bought or homemade, the preparation of the Pasanda starts with slices of paneer lovingly stuffed with fresh coriander, mint, raisin, and cashew chutney. You can choose to make these tiny sandwiches (think tea-sandwich size) rectangular or triangular in shape. Once stuffed, you then gently dip each in a cornstarch slurry and lightly fry till golden brown hue the perfect lightly crisped bite. These can be assembled a day or two in advance and fried the day you want to serve. Delicious enough on their own, these are smothered in a decadent onion and tomato gravy that’s loaded with all our favorite spices, like turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and chili powder. The gravy can be made in advance, reheated, and poured onto a large platter for an impressive centerpiece when topped with the fried paneer sandwiches and fresh sprigs of coriander. The tiny sandwiches can easily be made vegan by substituting extra firm tofu in place of the paneer. Try this dish for yourself—you won’t be sorry.
Paneer Pasanda Recipe
1 block or round of paneer, about 500 grams of paneer
For the filling:
1 T golden raisins
1-2 green chilies, seeded
1 cup of fresh Coriander (a.k.a. Cilantro)
12 leaves of fresh mint
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
½ inch of fresh ginger, peeled, and rough chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
Trimmings of paneer, crumbled
Water as needed, to make a paste
For the slurry:
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
For the onion paste:
2 onions, peeled and quartered
¼ tsp turmeric
1 green chili, seeded
2 cups tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ inch cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
Water to cover
For the gravy:
1 T garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp Garam masala
2 T cream
Fresh coriander sprigs for serving
Trim the paneer to make as many rectangles or triangles as you can. Crumble the remaining paneer trimmings and add to a food processor with the raisins, cashews, chilies, coriander, mint, cumin, salt, and ginger. Pulse to combine adding a little water as needed to make a thick paste.
Spread the paste onto one side of the paneer and top with another to make small sandwiches. Continue until you have used all your slices.
To make the slurry: Combine the cornstarch and the water in a shallow dish. Dip all sides of each sandwich. In a large pan, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once heated, fry each sandwich to golden brown on both sides for about 2 minutes each side.
To make the onion paste: In a large pot add the onions, turmeric, tomatoes, cashews, cinnamon, cardamom, and water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are soft. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and discard. Place the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.
In that same pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring to cook for 1 minute. Add the onion tomato paste, sugar, chili powder, and chili powder and cook for five minutes. Add the garam masala and cream and cook for 2 more minutes. Adjust spices as needed.
Serve gravy with fried paneer sandwiches and fresh coriander.