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A Jewel from the Awadhi Collection : Paneer Kundan Kaliyan

Updated: Jun 10

Paneer Kundan Kaliyan
Paneer Kundan Kaliyan

In today’s post we will be exploring a recipe from the royal kitchens of the ancient kingdom of Awadh (or Oudh, as the British called it). Awadhi cuisine has evolved across hundreds of years and reflects numerous Persian and Mughal influences. The menu of the Nawabs of Awadh was largely non-vegetarian but there were certain amazing vegetarian delicacies that were as rich and flavoursome as their non-vegetarian counterparts.

The dish we will be making today is one such vegetarian dish. It is called Paneer Kundan Kaliyan, a preparation of Indian cottage cheese (Paneer) in rich, creamy and spicy gravy that is made with yogurt and fresh cream.

Here are the ingredients that you will require.

Ingredients for Paneer Kundan Kaliyan

  1. Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer): 400 grams

  2. Onions: 4

  3. Tomato: 1, medium-sized

  4. Yogurt (Dahi): 100 grams

  5. Fresh Cream: 50 millilitres

  6. P Mark Mustard Oil: 50 millilitres

  7. Cardamoms (Elaichi): 4

  8. Cloves (Laung): 6

  9. Cinnamon (Dalchini): 1 one-inch piece

  10. Bay Leaf (Tej Patta): 1

  11. Coriander (Dhania) Seeds: 1 teaspoon

  12. Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 1 tablespoon

  13. Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder: 1 tablespoon

  14. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 1 teaspoon

  15. Garam Masala: 1 teaspoon

  16. Dried Rose Petals: 2 tablespoons

  17. Salt: to taste

The quantities mentioned above are for preparing two servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.

One of the offbeat ingredients you may notice in the list above is dried rose petals. If you cannot find this ingredient, no problem – even without the rose petals the dish will taste great. However, if you are a believer in authenticity, then the dried rose petals are an integral part of the recipe. The use of this ingredient can be traced to Persian culinary influences. In Persia and other parts of Central Asia, rose petals were used not only for their aromatic value and their subtle sweet flavour – they also known to aid the process of digestion; this was an important consideration keeping in mind how heavy the meat-laden Awadhi meals were!

Preparation for Paneer Kundan Kaliyan

Cut the Paneer into small cubes and place the pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the Kashmiri red chilli powder and the turmeric powder. Use your hands to mix the spices well so that the Paneer pieces are evenly coated with the spices. Keep the bowl aside for around 15 minutes.

Whisk the yogurt.

Finely chop the onions.

Finely chop the tomato.

Coarsely chop the coriander leaves.

Method for Paneer Kundan Kaliyan

Heat two tablespoons of Mustard Oil in a pan. Fry the spice-coated Paneer cubes till they turn golden-brown in colour. Remove the fried Paneer pieces from the oil and keep aside.

Add the remaining Mustard Oil to the pan and heat it on a High flame till the oil reaches its smoking point. This will be indicated by streams of aromatic white smoke rising from the surface of the hot oil. When this happens, reduce the flame to Medium and continue cooking.

Add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and coriander seeds to the pan and sauté for around 30 seconds.

Next, add the onions and fry till the onion pieces take on a translucent texture.

Add the tomato and the dried rose petals. Sauté for a couple of minutes till the dried rose petals become soft.

Next, add the garam masala and stir to mix well.

Now slowly add the yogurt. Keep stirring the mixture gently to ensure that the yogurt does not curdle.

After a couple of minutes, add the fried Paneer pieces to the pan and then add the fresh cream. Keep stirring but make sure you do it gently so that the Paneer pieces do not break or crumble.

Add salt to taste and continue stirring for another minute or so. Then turn the flame off.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Your traditional Awadhi Paneer Kundan Kaliyan is now ready. Serve it hot. Traditionally, this dish is eaten with Pulao or rice. Let your taste buds revel in the rich flavour of this regal delicacy.

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