I’ll be honest. I haven’t tasted authentic Afghan food. I have never owned an authentic Afghan cookbook either. So if you are from Afghanistan and have no clue how I named the recipe ‘Afghan Paneer’, I’ll tell you how. I saw a Youtube video of an Afghan Chicken side dish long back. I loved the flavors that went into making the gravy and wanted to ‘vegetarianize’ the same. So here’s my take on some of the flavors of Afghanistan!
I wouldn’t call this a quick recipe. But it really is simple. I grilled my Paneer pieces first and then added to the gravy which made it crunchy on the outside & soft inside. I loved the texture. If you’re not too keen on grilling or baking and would like the Paneer just soft, skip the grilling part. And by the way, my latest discovery – Poppy seeds! They are proving to be wonderful in gravies! You should try this recipe!
Here’s what you’re going to need –
Start by grinding poppy seeds, almonds & cumin to a fine powder.
To the curd / yogurt, add the ground mix, chilli paste, red chilli powder, salt & a pinch of sugar
Give it a good mix
Add in the Paneer (cottage cheese) cubes and mix well making sure you don’t break any of the cubes. Let that rest in the marinade for at least 20-30 minutes for the flavors to seep in. (Do the same if you’re using Chicken pieces too)
Arrange the paneer cubes one by one on a grill pan. If you don’t have the grill function in your microwave, you can bake or deep fry.
Grill for 20 minutes or until the outsides turn crispy.
Do not discard the Yogurt & spices mixture remaining. Mix in the milk with it and set aside.
Heat oil. Add cinnamon, onions, garam masala and mix well.
Fry till onions are golden brown
Add in the crushed tomatoes / tomato puree
Add water and mix well. Let that come to a boil and reduce by half
Add the milk mixture to the pan and mix. Taste the gravy & check for seasoning.
Add the grilled paneer pieces. Alternatively, if you aren’t grilling, just add the pieces directly at this stage after marinating.
Mix well & let the mixture come to a boil.
Garnish with Coriander (cilantro) or Parsley leaves
Serve hot with any kind of rice or bread.
- 2 cups Paneer Cubes (1 inch) (cottage cheese)*
- 1 cup chopped Onions
- 1 cup crushed Tomatoes / Tomato Puree
- ½ cup Plain Yogurt / Curd (or use cream)
- ¼ cup Milk
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Poppy seeds
- 5-8 Almonds
- 2 TBsp Green Chilli Paste (just run the chilli through food processor)
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- 2 TBsp Salt (to taste)
- a pinch of Sugar
- ½ cup Water
- Vegetable Oil as required
- In a food processor or grinder, add almonds, cumin seeds & poppy seeds. Grind to a coarse powder
- Add the powder to curd along with green chilli paste, Garam Masala, 1 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder & 1 TBsp Garam Masala powder. Mix well.
- Add paneer cubes to the curd mixture. Mix well making sure the paneer does not crumble and the curd mix coats all the paneer cubes. Let that rest / marinate for 20 - 30 minutes
- Arrange the cubes one by one on a grill pan & grill for 15 minutes r=or until the outside of the Paneer is golden brown. ALTERNATIVELY, if you don't have a grill pan, you can bake the same @ 200C for 15 minutes. Set aside. (You can skip this step if you don't want the crunchy texture of the Paneer)
- Don't discard the yogurt mixture leftover. Mix well with milk and set aside.
- Heat 2 tsp Oil and add cinnamon, onions and saute until the onions are golden brown
- Ad tomato puree, water and mix well. Let it boil and reduce to half.
- Add the milk mixture to the pan and mix well. Let that again come to a boil.
- Add the Paneer pieces to the gravy and mix well.
- Garnish with Coriander or Parsley Leaves and serve hot with Rice or Bread