I wondered what the most Googled recipe was in 2022 (as I type this it’s 2023 and the data isn’t fully there yet!). The most Googled recipe of 2022 is a meat free dish called a paneer pasanda – yep, it’s got some paneer cheese in there which gets really enhanced and is cooked (or even dunked) in quite the custom creamy tomato sauce with lots of herbs, spices and nuts. I had to make some tweaks along the way to the recipes that I found and have made my own notes but you end up with this super delicious, pasanda that does not have heat but a real depth of flavour from all those spices, it is surprisingly mild so I’ll leave it up to you to enhance the strength if you want! I think looking back I would probably also load the paneer triangles with even more stuffing and maybe add some zing of citrus juice, so have added this to the notes. Also worth noting the original recipe suggested that I do not remove the cinnamon stick, but I really think you should!
How to make a paneer pasanda
First up, lets make the tomato paste, which for me is more like a sauce so don’t expect it to be too thick. Get a saucepan and add the water, cashew nuts, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, cloves, peppercorns, mace and nutmeg. Over a medium heat bring the pan up to a simmer stirring from time to time to soften the tomatoes, about 15 mins or so. Do this with a lid on the pan and then allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the cinnamon stick, add the mixture to your blender / food processor and whizz up into a fine mixture, this is the ‘paste’, leave to one side.
For the onion paste, again in a blender add the onions and water and whizz away until smooth, you may want to add more water, perhaps another tablespoon or so. Pour this through a sieve to drive out a bit and leave to one side also.
For the paneer sandwiches grab a bowl to make the stuffing. Add the grated paneer, coriander leaves, mint, cashews, raisins, green chilli and a pinch of salt to taste. Mix everything well to form a stuffing. I would personally consider adding some lemon zest here, but just my opinion!
Take the block of paneer and slice into even triangle sizes. You only want the thickness of the paneer to be half an inch or so if possible. So maybe halve it too. Take a triangular slice, place the filling inside the triangle – in the video I did this leaving a border, but I think you should load it up more, then top with another triangle to create a sandwich. Repeat with the other triangles.
Make a cornflour slurry by mixing the water and cornflour together until smooth, you may have to mix it every now and then to keep it smooth / stop firming up. Warm up a frying pan adding in the oil about an inch high for shallow frying, test with a small piece of paneer to see if it browns and adjust temperature until you are happy. Dunk the paneer sandwiches into the slurry mix before carefully shallow frying until golden brown all over, place on kitchen towel to rest and repeat. It’s ok to let them cool.
For the gravy where most of this stuff comes together, warm the oil and butter in a pan until melted, add in the cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon stick, frying together for a minute or so to get the seeds sizzling. Add in the ginger paste and stir through carefully for a minute or 2. Keeping the heat on a medium low add in the curry leaves, turmeric, chili powder, coriander and cumin powder. Mix together over the heat for a couple of minutes, if you need to add a little water to prevent burning a tbsp at a time. Tip in the blended onions and stir through to cook for 2 minutes, then follow up with the tomato paste, bring this up to a simmer stirring from time to time for 5 minutes, add in the cream, gram masala and sugar, mix well for a few more minutes. Fish out the cinnamon stick, then place in the paneer sandwiches, coating them in the sauce fully all over, warming through for a few moments.
Remove from the heat and pour over some more cream and coriander to serve straight from the pan. Dunking in a naan bread would be nice. I would definitely consider adding a little lemon juice to the final dish in my opinion, but the flavour complexity was amazing!