Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

This is actually one of my boyfriend’s recipes, but it’s one of my favorite things he cooks for me (the other is Karahi Steak which I hope to post soon) so I wanted to share it with you.  I am a very lucky girl to have a boyfriend who cooks such great food for me.  The recipe is adapted from a little cookbook titled Indian that I found on a shopping trip to TJ Maxx.

Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

Fair warning, this is not a quick and simple dish.  This is a dinner to serve when you’re in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen.  You’ll be making your own cheese, but don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds.  Making the cheese is actually pretty simple, you just need to plan ahead because it’s best if the cheese is made the day before.  Trust me, it’s WELL worth the work.  This dish is SO DELICIOUS you’re sure to love it!!!

Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

Prep Time: 10 minutes for dish

Cook Time: 60 minutes for paneer, ~40 minutes for dish

Serves: 2


1/2 gallon Whole Milk
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 tbsp. Canola Oil
4 Green Cardamom Pods
2 Bay Leaves
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. Garlic Paste (often found in the Italian ethnic section)
2 tsp. Ginger Paste (often found near the fresh herbs)
2 tsp. Coriander
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
3/4 tsp. Extra-hot Chili Powder
5 1/2 oz. Canned San Marzano Tomatoes, diced
2 c. + 2 tbsp. warm Water
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 c Frozen Corn, defrosted
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
2 tbsp. Cream
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro

1.  First, you’re going to make the paneer.  It’s generally best to do this the day before you want to cook this dish.  Heat your milk in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  You want to bring the milk to a boil.

Note 1: It’s easiest to make cheese with unpasteurized milk.  If you can’t find it (trust me – it’s hard), try to use regular pasteurized milk over ultra-pasteurized milk.  Unfortunately, organic milk often comes only in ultra-pasteurized form.  It is possible to make with this type (it’s what we usually use), it’s just more difficult.

Note 2: If you have a non-stick pot, a skin will probably form on the bottom of the pot so you may not be able to tell the milk is boiling until you scrape the bottom of the pot.  If this is the case, make a small scrape in the middle of the pot, but leave the rest of the skin undisturbed.  If you scrape the entire bottom, you’ll get big chunks of scalded/burned milk in your cheese (not good).

Once the milk is boiling, add the lemon juice and remove from the heat.  Stir until curds begin to form (see below).  If you don’t see many curds stir in 1 tbsp. of lemon juice at a time until the milk curdles.  You shouldn’t need to exceed 4 tbsp. lemon juice total.

Curdle Milk

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let the curds form then strain through a double layer of cheesecloth.  Once the curds have cooled, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  Then press between two cutting boards weighted with a heavy object for 20-30 minutes.  The drier the cheese, the better it will cook later.

When the paneer is made, it should look something like this.  Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.  If you’re not making it the day before but hoping to make it the same day, make sure you allow the cheese to refrigerate a few hours.


2.  Cut paneer into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok over medium-low heat.  Once the oil is hot, brown the paneer cubes on each side.  Be careful, it may spatter – especially if the cheese is particularly moist.  It should look golden and delicious like this.

Brown Paneer

3.  Once the paneer is browned, drain it on paper towels leaving the oil in the wok.  Your most important task at this point is to try not to eat all that delicious cheese before you finish the dish (I always sneak a couple pieces…)

4.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and increase the heat to medium-high.  Bruise the cardamom pods by lightly crushing them with the broad side of a knife.  The pod should crack, but the seeds shouldn’t spill out.  Add the cardamom pods and bay leaves to the oil, allowing them to sizzle for ~30 seconds.

5.  Add the onion to the wok and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook another 3 minutes, stirring.  The onions should become a light golden color.

Note: If you can’t find ginger and garlic paste (or ginger garlic paste), you can substitute equal amounts of minced garlic and grated ginger.

6.  Stir in the coriander, turmeric (Be careful, this yellow spice WILL STAIN!!), and chili powder.  Cook for an additional minute.

Note: If you’re using regular chili powder instead of extra-hot, you may need to increase the amount to give the dish a little heat.

Add Spices

7.  Add the tomatoes and cook 4 minutes.  Add 2 tbsp. water and cook 3 minutes until the oil begins to separate.  Add an additional 2 cups of water and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer for 7 minutes.

8.  Add the paneer and corn to the wok and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala, cream, and cilantro.

Note: The quality of your garam masala will affect the taste of this dish.  Our favorite brand is Badshah.  It can be found at Asian markets or online (it’s available from Amazon).

Stir in Cream and Cilantro

9.  Serve with warm Naan to dip in the broth.  For a heartier dish, serve with a side of jasmine or basmati rice to spoon the broth over.

Paneer Meal


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