Posted in Indian Curries, Kitchen 101, Recipes

Paneer Bhurji – Soft creamy paneer scrambled with spices!

For me, there are two kinds of Paneer, the one I make routinely, dryish not so spicy or indulgent. And then there is another Bhurji which is a rare phenomenon, once in a while Bhurji Pav occasion of celebration. I know that most people associate rainy nights with Fried food, Bhajiya and Bajjis and the sorts. But on the kind of nights when it rains as if there will be no tomorrow, when the pitter…patter…drippp…droop.. glupp symphony is accompanied by an occasional thunder, something reminds of this Paneer Bhurji. When street creatures huddle – half wet, half dry and fully miserable – under whatever they can find, I crave this. Those souls, for whom the streets are both their workplace and the place they crash in after a long day, use tarp to shelter themselves, the kind ones cuddle their street pets with them. The unlucky strays crouch under whatever dry shelter they can manage. On nights like these, you groan at your smartphone because, either the Ola Uber and their ilk have very few cabs running on the roads. Or because Swiggy tells you that due to bad weather conditions, their executives cannot service your area. But if you go back to times before Ola, Uber and Swiggy made us to painfully dependent and stripped us of the small joys of life, every street corner in the Metros had a Bhurji cart dimg brisk business. It was mostly Egg Bhurji, but one particular cart I knew also served Paneer Bhurji, as concession to those who are “Vegetarian in Tuesdays and Fridays” and their kin. In any case, the assembly, apparatus and ambience remained the same. A huge iron tava perched atop a kerosene stove, continously heating, has almost hypnotic powers. The troika of sight, smell and sound work harmoniously to warm your insides and draw you closer to the cart. Pretty much every Bhurji that takes birth on that Tava looks similar. Beautiful ruby red colour, a free flowing smooth consistency and the broth speckled with scrambled eggs, or scambled paneer. It is deftly swiped with a flat spatula on a plate, two fluffy pav are swirled around in some butter and leftover masala and placed next to the pooled Bhurji, almost taking a dip into the pool. Some sliced onions, a miserable wedge of a lemon but who is complaining. I am already won over by the aroma. Recipe for the Bhurji is now up on the blog! 💕

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

Recipe:

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

Ingredients:

    • 200 gms of paneer, (details of grating in method ),
    • 2 tbsp of Ghee ( recommended, but substitute with oil if you like ),
    • 1 tsp of cumin seeds, (optional, I sometimes skip it),
    • 2 green chillies (medium hot), finely chopped,
    • 1″ piece of ginger + 3-4 large cloves of garlic, grated,
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped or minced,
    • 1 medium capsicum, finely chopped,
    • 1/2 each of a red and yellow capsicum, finely chopped ( completely optional, use a smaller green capsicum or use half to compensate for the quantity added by coloured capsicums),
  • Salt, to taste,
  • 1 tsp of sugar (optional, but highly recommended if you are using the storebought paste to balance the acidity ),
    • 1 large tomato, finely chopped or grated, + 1/4th cup of store bought tomato puree, ( If I were to be honest, I personally find that the results with 1/2 a cup is store bought / concentrated tomato puree is the best. But it is upto you. I would recommend using a mix of the two atleast to get the optimally red shade of bhurji, but if you are averse to using store bought puree. You can replace with 2 large tomatoes, cores removed, blanched, peeled and then ground to a smooth paste. The seeds and the peel interfere a bit with the texture so I recommend the blanching, peeling and deseeding ),
  • 1 tbsp of Kasoori Methi ( dried Fenugreek leaves ), crushed between your palms to a finer texture, ( would recommend not skipping this ),
  • 1 tsp of cumin coriander powder, ( optional )
  • 1/4th tsp or a light sprinkle of turmeric powder, (optional),
  • 1 tsp ( or more as needed ), of Kashmiri/Bydagi chilli powder or any chilli powder which is mildy hot,
  • Juice of half a lemon OR 1/2 tsp ( or less as needed ) of Amchoor powder ( dried Mango powder ) ( skip this if using store bought puree, add if using freshly ground tomatoes to balance the acidity ),
  • 2 tbsp to 4 tbsp of milk, as needed, to adjust the consistency, especially if you are looking for a flowing consistency to be mopped up with buttered Pav, not essential but I like the creaminess it lends to the bhurji. So I add even more than the mentioned amount sometimes. ( Use WARM or room temperature milk , instead of extremely cold, straight from the fridge cold milk),
  • Finely chopped coriander, to garnish,
  • A sprinkle of garam masala to finish, ( I almost always skip it, but if you have to use garam masala then add it at the end ).

Method:

  1. Grate paneer as coarsely as possible. Use the largest size of grater on your box grater. Refer to the mise en place image for reference. If you are using home made paneer, try to crumble it with hands coarsely. The reason I emphasise on coarse grating is because paneer shrinks on heating. If you are looking for a good scramble/texture and not a complete mush, begin with larger particle size. Set it aside before you start.
  2. Place a Kadai/thick bottomed pan over medium heat and add the Ghee. Once hot, add the cumin seeds of using and let them crackle. Then add the ginger garlic and green chilli over medium heat until they no longer smell raw. Add the onion to it and cook until translucent. Then sprinkle some salt and add in the capsicum ( or a mix of coloured capsicums) to it. Mix and cook until completely wilted.
  3. Season with salt, sugar if using, Add the tomatoes in whatever form you are using. Mix well and patiently cook it down till the oil separates on the sides.
  4. Season with Kasoori Methi, cumin coriander powder if using, turmeric powder if using and red chilli powder. Adjust salt, and check sourness, adjust with Amchoor powder if needed. If using lemon juice, add it at the end after taking it off the heat. I prefer Amchoor powder because it reduces the chances of split milk when using milk to adjust the consistency. Add cook until the oil droplets form on the sides of the pan.
  5. Add the paneer that is grated and kept aside. Mix it well with the seasoning, and once it has warmed up enough by cooking for a minute or two, add the milk if you are using. Do not cook the paneer a lot or for very long as it will lose moisture, shrink and also turn into a slightly rubbery unpleasant texture. If you have cooked the tomatoes and spices until the oil droplets form, the milk won’t split. Also, as long as you don’t add extremely cold milk to an extremely hot pan, it won’t split, so please bring the milk to room temperature before using.
  6. Do not cook on a very high heat after adding the milk. Bring it to a gentle bubble and the take it off the heat. Finish with chopped coriander and garam masala. Serve hot with a flat bread of your choice or hot, buttered Pav or toasted bread slices.

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