Chana Paneer - A mixture of Chickpeas and cubes of Indian Paneer cheese with a blend of spices in a delicious flavoursome sauce.
Chana Paneer - Chickpea and Indian Cheese Curry
Whenever I eat out at an Indian recipe we always go for a selection of different dishes that we can place in the middle of the table and all dig in and enjoy a little bit of everything and without fail there has to be a dish with Paneer Cheese on the table, because I love it.
Usually, we go for Sag Paneer or Matar Paneer, but another equally yummy dish is Chana Paneer. I love the combination of Chickpeas and Paneer Cheese, so coming up with my own recipe at home was a must.
What is Paneer Cheese?
Paneer Cheese is a type of cheese popular in Indian cooking, it's made by curdling milk with some sort of acid like lemon or lime Juice etc. The final result is a soft cheese which holds it's shape in cooking, meaning it's great for curries.
The cheese itself doesn't really have a strong flavour, but it will take on all the flavours of the delicious spices you add into your dish and gets a beautiful browning/goldenness when pan-fried.
There really isn't any good substitute for it in Indian cooking and it's worth sourcing if you can find it.
What is Ghee?
You will notice I use ghee in this recipe and may be wondering what it is? Ghee is the name for clarified butter, it's not the same as a block of butter. Ghee is unsalted butter that is heated to remove the milk solids, the final result being a beautiful golden liquid that is a perfect cooking fat with a high smoke point.
It is commonly used in Indian cooking and will take your curries and Indian dishes to a whole other level that you just won't achieve with regular cooking oils.
If you struggle to find ghee, you can use another cooking oil of your choice in it's place, but I recommend sourcing some ghee if you can. It will last for ages and is great in all kinds of cooking.
Can I omit the Ghee or Oil in this recipe?
While it is possible to cook this dish with cooking oil spray, you will not get that same lovely caramelization of the paneer and amazing flavour that you get from cooking it in ghee. The paneer really needs real oil to cook it and you just don't get the same result with spray oils.
It's not a huge amount of points when you divide it into servings. Don't be put off using real ingredients in recipes.
Substitutes for Chickpeas?
Really it won't be Chana Paneer without using chickpeas, but if you are wondering what other things you could use in their place. Then lentils are a great alternative. Go for brown or green varieties that doing break down when cooking and hold their shape in a recipe. I don't recommend Red Lentils. You want that combination of texture with the Paneer Cheese.
Another unusual ingredient you might spot in this recipe is something called Deggi Mirch, which is basically a good quality chilli powder made from a variety of Indian Red Chillies (usually Kashmiri chilies and Red Peppers) it has a vibrant red colour that will add beautiful colour to your dishes.
It's a great ingredient to add to your spice collection if you enjoy Indian cooking, but any medium heat chilli powder will work in its place.
Sides for Chana Paneer
Wondering what sides to serve with this Chana Paneer? I like to keep it simple with some basmati rice and fresh coriander.
If you struggle to cook perfect rice, remember my simple method of 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice. So for example, for 1 cup of rice you want two cups of liquid. Rinse your rice first, add to a pan with the liquid, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is pretty much all absorbed, turned off the heat, add a lid and leave for about 12-15 minutes, you will have perfectly cooked rice every time. Just remember to not be tempted to stir the rice in the cooking time.
Want to turn this into an Indian Fakeaway Feast? Check out these recipes below from my Indian Fakeaway Recipes section
- Lamb Bhuna
- Onion Bhaji
- Tandoori Chicken
- Tarka Dhal
- Beef Dhansak
- Chicken Korma
- Butter Chicken
- Sweetcorn Pilau Rice
- Aloo Gobi
- Sweet Potato Naan/Flatbread
- Vegetable Pakora
- Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma)
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