Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Like most people, I love a good butter chicken (murgh makhani), and I also love paneer AND am trying to eat less meat, so this is the perfect marriage for me. This is not particularly authentic but it is absolutely beautiful - it's based on Annabel Langbein's 'Butter Haloumi' recipe, and I've given it a hint of smokiness to evoke the flavour of the chicken straight from the tandoor. I love this recipe - it's so easy and is likely to become, as it has for many, a family staple. It also reminds me of the curd steaks from my favourite Hare Krishna restaurant, Higher Taste in Wellington, New Zealand. I'm sure you could use tofu and coconut milk too, if you'd like to make it vegan.
2 Tbsp neutral oil - groundnut, sunflower or grapeseed etc.
3 tbsp tomato paste (NZ)/purée (UK)
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 heaped tsp garam masala
½ tsp mild chilli powder (you can leave this out if you're catering for children too. It's still beautiful and the ginger provides some heat)
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
½ tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
200g paneer (or haloumi), cut into 2cm chunks
250g spinach leaves
150g crème fraîche, sour cream or greek yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander to garnish
Heat the oil in a medium-large pot over a low-medium heat and gently fry the tomato paste/purée, grated ginger, garlic and spices for 1 to 2 minutes, until just aromatic.
Add the tinned tomatoes, vegetable stock, salt, pepper and sugar and simmer over a low heat for 8-10 minutes.
With a stick blender, process the sauce in the pot until smooth (optional - I just prefer it).
Add the paneer and spinach and cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.
Give the crème fraîche/sour cream/yoghurt a stir, then add it all to the sauce and stir it through until it's all incorporated in to the sauce.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with rice (particularly good with the fragrant rice pilau) and any flatbread, heated.
You can make the sauce for this in advance (steps 1-3) - double/triple the recipe, pop it in the freezer in meal-sized portions and hey presto! A really easy, beautiful sauce ready to go.