Festivals, vacations and family gatherings call for memorable dinner parties. Dinner party planning include entertainment, music, decorations, venue et al. And one thing that is bound to take center stage is the dinner menu. Loads of pre-planning has already begun. Menu should of course be such that it can be prepared easily in larger quantities and does not need too many last minute assembling. For the host needs to enjoy the party with family and friends too, right? Paneer is one ingredient that will most of the time be present at the buffet table and is always the most sought out one! Paneer Makhni, koftas, tikka masala, pasanda, kadai are some of the popular paneer gravies at dinner parties.
Makhni, as the name says, has the aroma of butter and is a tomato based gravy. For a tikka masala, paneer tikkas are immersed into spicy & hot onion-tomato gravy. Koftas are dumplings of paneer in a rich and creamy gravy. ‘Pasande’ meaning ‘the favorite one’ is yet another royal dish where thin slabs of paneer are fried after coating in a marination. They are then immersed into a rich mughlai style gravy consisting almonds, coconut milk, cream.
For today, its `karahi` or `kadai` paneer. A kadai/ karahi is a deep, thick, circular cooking pot with a rounded bottom similar to a wok. Traditionally kadai made of cast iron were used but today they are even made of stainless steel.
The `kadai` is used for deep frying. Some gravy based dishes are also made in a kadai. And the paneer kadai is one such dish.
Paneer kadai has soft chunks of paneer immersed in a spicy tomato-onion based masala. They are usually semi dry but variations can be made as per taste. The dominant spices in a kadai gravy is coriander and dry red chillies. They are both lightly roasted and pounded in a mortar and pestle or a mixer coarsely and added to gravy. Capsicum is another ingredient that is a must in a kadai gravy.
While there are days I make a kadai gravy with freshly ground tomato paste, I sometimes rely on this simplified version for equally satisfying results. Here you may pound the the coriander-red chillies and add or if short of time opt for chilli powder and coriander powder straight from your spice rack. This dry kadai masala of coriander and chillies can be made in larger quantities and stored for few days and use when required.
And not to forget, this dish is perfect for your buffet table!