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Paneer Dalna: A typical Bengali delicacy

Paneer Dalna: A typical Bengali delicacy

Paneer, or Indian Cottage Cheese, is a fresh and soft cheese. It doesn’t go by saying how much Indians love it. Paneer is found in almost all kinds of Indian cuisine. According to the Internet, the Portugese were the first ones to introduce paneer to India, via West Bengal. Bengalis were already using the non-pressed form of paneer, called “chhana“, since long. But Portugese introduced the technique of breaking milk with acid in the 17th century. That’s when this beautiful cheese got it’s break. And after that, there’s no looking back!!

Bengali cuisine adores all of their ingredients. Therefore, it was the same for paneer too. Here’s a simple and classic recipe of Paneer Dalna. I made it at home and LOVED it. This is a recipe with onions and garlic. They are optional and you can easily skip them.

Preparation Time: 10-15 mins,  Cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients for the Paneer Dalna:

250 gms of paneer (cubed), 150 gms of diced potatoes (about 2-3 medium sized potatoes), 2 medium sized onions (1 sliced and 1 diced), 4-5 green chillies (add more, if you can BEAT THE HEAT), 1 inch ginger piece, 5-6 pieces of garlic, a small diced tomato, 1 teaspoon each of turmeric and red chilli powder, 2 bay leaves, a small piece of cinnamon, 2 pods of green cardamom, 2 cloves, 7 gms each of whole cumin and coriander seeds, 4-5 tablespoons of oil, 1\2 teaspoon of sugar, one and a half teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of water

Procedure:

  • The “Moshla” Paste:
  1. In a mixer/grinder, add in the chopped ginger and garlic. Grind it
  2. To this, add in the diced onions, green chillies and some water. Do not add too much water.
  3. Grind everything into a smooth paste and set aside.
  • The “Moshla” Powder:
  1. Take a dry pan and heat it well.
  2. Add in the cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds.
  3. Dry roast them until fragrant. This takes about 3 mins.
  4. Cool the spices and grind into a fine powder.

Cooking:

  1. Heat up the oil in a kadhai/pan.
  2. Add in the cubed paneer. Fry until they develop a bit of brown colour.
  3. Take them out and add the potatoes. Fry until they develop a golden film.
  4. If there’s no oil remaining after frying, add in a tablespoon of oil. Otherwise use the remnant oil.
  5. Temper the oil with bay leaves and the sugar. The sugar should brown a little. Do not burn it.
  6. Add in the sliced onions and sauté for some time. They should turn translucent or pinkish in colour.
  7. Add two tablespoons of the Moshla paste. Fry until oil separates.
  8. Put in the tomatoes and fry for some more time, until soft. Splash some water if the Moshla starts sticking to the pan.
  9. Add in the turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix well and add in a little water. Sauté until oil separates, or the raw smell of spices don’t come.
  10. Pour in the fried potatoes and mix well with “kosha moshla”. Add in the remaining of 2 cups of water. Simmer on a low flame until the potatoes are soft and cooked.
  11. After this, add in the fried paneer and a teaspoon of the Moshla powder. Mix well. Cover and cook for a minute. You’re done!!

Serve the Paneer Dalna hot, with steamed rice. You can also enjoy it with Basanti or any kind of pulao. For a richer take, add a dollop of ghee while serving. Bon appetite!!

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