Paneer Masala (Keto Friendly)

On my recent trip to India, we went to our favourite local restaurant that serves absolutely divine North Indian food. Our family has been patrons at the restaurant for almost a decade now; birthdays, casual dinner out or even milestone celebrations Shree Mithai remains our top pick.

Of the many things they serve there I have my firm favourites. I am a creature of habit and it is not uncommon for me to order my usual. This time around, I surprised myself and ordered a super popular paneer dish but a slightly overshadowed cousin of the Paneer Makhani and Kadhai Paneer, and it’s called Paneer Lababdaar.

It has a distinct flavour unlike any other paneer dish. The dish has a beautiful creamy texture with a bit of nuttiness; the taste blew me away.

This led me to reading up more about the dish and its origins. Google, surprisingly, gave no concrete leads. If anything, the varying answers left me even more confused than I was before. Some say the word ‘lababdaar’ means tasty and there is another team that says it means a strong desire. I tend to agree with both because it’s hella tasty and right now, I have a strong desire (or lababdaar should I say? LOL) for this absolutely delicious curry!           The origins will remain a mystery to me but if I know anything about this, I will most definitely keep you all posted.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, I enjoy recreating restaurant dishes at home. It was pretty obvious this one HAD to be made! How could I not? I am however not entirely convinced about calling my creation Paneer Lababdaar. I am going to simply name it Paneer Masala made in the lines of the mysterious yet tasty and desirable dish. *wink wink, nudge nudge*

Flavours. Textures. Richness. This curry has it all. Each morsel exquisite, the dish that has found a spot in meal plans and is high on rotation. Added bonus, this is keto and low-carb friendly!

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Ingredients:

To grind:

  • Tomatoes – 75g
  • Onion – 40g
  • Cashew – 50g
  • Cardamom – 2 pods, shelled
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Ginger – ½ inch piece, cleaned and peeled

For the curry:

  • Paneer – 300g, cubed
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons + some more to serve
  • Cloves – 2
  • Bay leaf – 2
  • Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 heaped tspn
  • Coriander powder – 1 tspn
  • Hot chilli powder – 1 tspn
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tblspn, chopped
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tspn
  • Cream – 75 ml + some more to add before serving
  • Kasoori methi – 2 tspn
  • Salt – To taste

Directions

Prep: Soak cashew in warm water for 30 minutes.

  1. Grind all the items listed under ‘To grind’ including the soaked cashews into a smooth paste.
  2. Heat butter in a pan.
  3. Add the cloves and bay leaves and stir until fragrant.
  4. Toss in the ground paste and mix well.
  5. Add the spice powders and salt. Mix to combine the ingredients.
  6. Cook until the fat separates from the sides.
  7. At this stage, pour some water to dilute the mixture to make into a curry base.
  8. Let the curry base simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Toss in the paneer cubes.
  10. Gently mix the paneer with the curry base.
  11. Crush some kasoori methi between your palms and sprinkle on the curry.
  12. Allow the curry to cook for another 5 minutes until the flavours have combined well and a rich curry is ready.
  13. Turn off the stove and add about a tablespoon of butter on the top.
  14. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve hot topped with cream.

Tips:

  1. These proportions are suited for ketogenic and low-carb lifestyles. Adjust the quantities to suit your dietary needs.
  2. Adjust water levels for grinding the paste depending on how thick you want the gravy. I like mine a bit thick and didn’t use a lot of water.
  3. Add more cream depending on your preference.
  4. Adjust the spice levels to suit your taste.
  5. Optionally, you can shallow fry the paneer cubes in ghee or butter to give it that added taste.
  6. If you have nut allergies, swap cashews for melon seeds to achieve the nutty taste.

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