Achari paneer masala


Ingredients (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
pickling spices:
1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp mustard seeds/rai or sarson
½ tsp nigella seeds/kalonji
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds/methi dana
other ingredients:
200 to 250 grams paneer, choppped in cubes or squares
1 cup fresh whole milk curd, 240 grams
1.5 tsp ginger-green chili paste or ½ inch ginger + 1 or 2 green chilies
2 dry red chilies
a generous pinch of asafoetida/hing
1 medium tomato, chopped about ⅓ cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes, 75 to 80 grams of tomatoes
10 to 12 cashews or 2 tbsp cashews or 2 tbsp cashew powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp cumin powder (optional)
1 or 2 tsp of mango pickle masala (optional)
1 to 1.5 tbsp besan
½ tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves
3 tbsp low fat cream
2 tbsp rice bran oil or sunflower oil or mustard oil or ghee
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp chopped mint leaves
salt as required

How to make the recipe:
roasting pickling spices:
first take the achari or pickling spices in a pan – 1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf, 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera, 1 tsp mustard seeds/rai or sarson, ½ tsp nigella seeds/kalonji and ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds/methi dana.
heat the pan and on a low flame roast the spices till they are fragrant. don't brown them.
once cooled, add the spices in a small dry grinder or spice grinder and grind to a semi fine powder.
remove the achari masala powder and keep aside in a bowl.
rest of the preparation:
in the same grinder, add 10 to 12 cashews.
grind to a fine powder. if oil releases while grinding then its fine.
in a bowl, take 1 cup fresh whole milk curd/yogurt and whisk it till smooth. use fresh curd and not sour curd.
heat 2 tbsp mustard oil or sunflower oil or ghee in a pan.
on a low flame, add 2 dry red chilies and a generous pinch of asafoetida. saute for some seconds till the red chilies change color.
then add 1.5 tsp ginger-green chili paste – about ½ inch ginger + 1 or 2 green chilies crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle. stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger goes away.
then add ⅓ cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes.
stir and add ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp coriander powder and ¼ tsp cumin powder (optional).
again stir very well and saute the tomatoes till the tomatoes soften completely and become pulpy. you should also see oil releasing from the sides.
now add the cashew powder. if using store brough cashew powder, then add 2 tbsp cashew powder. do check the shelf life of store brought cashew powder before adding.
on a low to medium flame, stir and saute the mixture for 2 minutes after adding cashew powder.
reserve 1 tsp of the ground achari masala and add the rest. stir very well.
add 1 tbsp besan. we are adding besan so that the curd does not curdle.
stir the besan very well and incorporate it into the rest of the masala.
keep the flame on a low and add the beaten curd.
as soon as you add the curd, begin to stir the mixture quickly and fast. stirring quickly, incorporate the curd well into the rest of the masala.
add salt as per taste.
simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.
add the paneer cubes. 200 or 250 grams paneer chopped in cubes.
cook the paneer cubes for about 1 to 2 minutes.
then add 3 tbsp low fat fresh cream and ½ tsp kasuri methi, which has been crushed. stir very well.
switch off the flame and add 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and 1 tsp chopped mint leave & stir again.
while serving sprinkle the reserved achari masala from top and garnish with a coriander or mint sprig. serve achari paneer masala with tandoori rotis, chapatis or naan.