Here's an easy recipe for the perfect restaurant style paneer butter masala for all you paneer (cottage cheese) lovers! I love serving this with parathas and jeera rice. It's always a hit with family and guests!
In a large pan or kadhai, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil.
Add red chillies, ginger, garlic paste and all the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns). Alternatively, you can also wrap the spices in a muslin cloth and add them to the pan (take this out after the tomatoes are cooked down). Saute for a minute or two and add cashew nuts, poppy seeds (if using) and onions. Once the onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes. Mix well.
Cover and cook till the tomatoes start breaking down and the mixture starts leaving oil at the edges. Switch off the flame and set aside to cool.
Once cool enough to handle, fish out as many whole spices as possible, and blend the mixture to a smooth paste in a food processor or blender.
In the same pan or kadhai, heat the remaining butter and add the blended paste prepared in step #4. Add garam masala powder, chili powder, turmeric, ketchup, salt along with 1/2 cup water. Bring this to a boil.
Once the curry comes to a boil, simmer and cook for 30 minutes, till the oil separates slightly. Cut the paneer into bite sized pieces, add it to the gravy and mix gently.
In another pan, dry roast the kasuri methi and grind it to a fine powder. Mix kasuri methi and fresh cream in the curry and switch off the flame. Serve hot.
Paneer: If you'd like to try and make paneer at home, you can check out this recipe
Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes work best for paneer butter masala because they are not as sour as the local varieties